For many of us, toy blocks have helped us build some of our fondest childhood memories, literally. And it’s no wonder that we hold them so dear – these simple, wooden toys are in fact some of the first building blocks of learning. Not only do they keep babies and young children busy and entertained, but they also introduce them to a set of cognitive and motor skills which are very important for their development.
Of course, in today’s computer and smartphone obsessed world, any kind of wooden toy is better than letting your child stare at a screen all day long. However, blocks are one of the rare toys that have a positive effect on how young children think. Studies have shown that children’s wooden blocks toys help create unique conditions that encourage complex brain processes even at a very young age. Here are some of the reasons why block play is so stimulating and rewarding for children’s development.
Encourage Creativity and Problem-Solving Skills
Psychologists divide educational play into two basic groups: convergent and divergent play. A convergent play has only one determined end result, like for instance, a game of fishing with magnets. On the other hand, a divergent play has an endless amount of results and ways it can develop. This is the case with block play, where children can put together blocks in a variety of ways. As they come up with ways to combine blocks to get their desired result, kids need to use their imagination and think ahead of time. This helps prepare their young brains for other divergent problems they will encounter in the future.
Improve Motor Skills
Before kids can get the blocks into the desired shape, they need to use their motor skills. This requires them to put the blocks into a position where they won’t topple over. As a result, the child starts to understand how hand-eye coordination works. But even when the child is too young to understand what’s going on, just holding the blocks serves as good practice for gripping objects and helps them strengthen their hands and fingers.
Better Spatial Awareness
Building structures using children’s wooden blocks toys requires being able to mentally rotate the objects in the mind’s eye. This way, children learn the basics of being spatially aware. What’s more, some building blocks are designed in a way that they can’t fit everywhere. Through the process of trial and error, children gradually start to learn about the different shapes of objects. Over time, they develop an understanding of simple shapes like circles and rectangles until they instinctively start knowing which shape fits where.