This is the time of the year when you’re probably frantically searching for the perfect to gift the children in your life and what might be best for them. Your first instinct is to surprise them with the latest video game or the coolest gadget. After all, it would be the easiest way to become the child’s favorite, and electronic devices can help children learn new things too.
However, when we talk about children’s development, there is a gift that nothing else can compare to, and no, it isn’t a book, it’s something they can build and construct with. A consistent part of children’s play, which is not adequately valued for its educational qualities is blocks. Good building blocks help develop a wide range of skills and the earliest your child starts engaging with them, the better. And the best part? It can be as addictive as video games, without the added danger to your child’s eyesight.
1. Problem-Solving Skills
A bit on the obvious side, problem-solving skills are the most important of life hacks that a child develops through blocks. One has to learn how to stack the blocks, organize and reorganize and the principles behind balancing to build things in a certain way. Because the child thinks a lot about how to arrange the blocks to get he wants out of them, he quickly learns to think for himself. This planning and strategizing leads to persistence and resistance – a welcome bonus.
2. Spatial Reasoning
A lesser-known benefit of playing with blocks is spatial reasoning. Human beings are capable of creating images within their minds. For example, one can visualize certain places, distances from those places, objects and their positions within the given places and the area and the width of the places in their heads, in a way that they create exact replicas of the places in the real world without physically being present at the moment. This ability to create images and calculate certain things regarding those images to understand how it works in the real world is called spatial reasoning.
When children assemble blocks and do complex measurements in their minds, both their imagination and reasoning skills are put to good use. Studies show children with good mathematical skills tend to find jobs related to STEM subjects later in their adult life.
3. Spatial Language Skills
A day to day part of our language skills – most adults don’t even realize when they’re using spatial language. For children, it’s one of the things that helps their small existence confirm their physical existence a little more solidly in this world. Spatial language is the language used to help others understand where certain objects are in a given location and the position of your own body in relation to them. Words like above, around, near, inside and outside are some good examples of position indicators. To communicate how they want to place their blocks, the child’s brain scrambles to learn spatial language faster. Spatial language, in turn, helps them understand shapes, sizes and dimensions, which further develops their spatial reasoning skills. Studies prove that blocks, through spatial language, build children’s vocabularies more than any other form of play.
4. Emotional Growth
Blocks are engaging even when the person is playing alone, and in all honesty, you don’t have to be a child to play with blocks. You can be an adult and still find the act of stacking blocks to fit a certain image in your head a calming process. Regardless, it can’t be denied that the enjoyment from playing with blocks is much higher for children when they play with a friend or a loved one.
Building blocks with others teaches kids to share, to ask for permission before using parts that the other child might want to use and to be kind. It encourages feelings of community and makes room for conversation among children, which can further enhance their language skills. It also teaches them to be patient and increases their attention span. On the other hand, when parents play with their children, they can quickly answer their child’s questions when their curiosity takes over and thus, have meaningful bonding time.
Giving blocks a chance will help your child in the long run, even if your present won’t be on the cool side or score you brownie points with your child immediately. With time, it will become a decision that you will be proud of, as you begin to realize its contribution towards your child’s mental and character development.