Children learn things when they play, many things that we don’t even realise because we take them for granted. They learn about life and about their own abilities and limitations while playing games and playing with various toys.
While they are playing, they are also developing essential skills that will help them both at school and outside the classroom. Through physical activity they develop their muscles and muscle control, they play with balls and develop their coordination. When they play with more fiddly toys they develop what is called fine motor skills – the ability to hold and manipulate small objects.
Parents want the best for their children and we strive to do this by giving them a variety of toys and play options. All of these are important and help to in the child’s development, but I believe there is one type of toy that every child should have.
Every child should have building toys to help develop important functions of their intellect. This, in my opinion, is one of the most important types of toy that helps to develop a child’s intellectual abilities. There are many reports available that support this idea.
Building toys may help to develop abilities such as:
- Hand-eye coordination and motor skills
- Responsibility and discipline
- Creative and inventive thinking
- Spatial skills
- Teamwork and social skills
Hand-eye coordination and motor skills
Just like physical activity develops the larger muscles in the body, playing with certain types of toys may help develop the smaller muscles in the hands and fingers. It is quite easy to see the link between playing with building toys and developing hand-eye coordination and motor skills. The parts that the child is playing with are often small and need the child to pick them up, line them up in the place they must go and push them together. The more fiddly little blocks need the child to have good finger control. Then there are also the skills needed to pull them apart again.
Responsibility and discipline
Building sets have to be looked after if they are going to last and give repeated hours of play. This is an ideal opportunity to help a child to develop the discipline of packing away when they stop playing and to keep things organised. It is much easier to start a new building project if you know where all the pieces are and you don’t have to go searching for them. With some block sets you are unable to complete the model if there is even just one important piece missing.
Creative and inventive thinking
Many of the bigger block sets come with some instructions to build a variety of models using those blocks. As the children build these models they develop their own ideas about changing these models, or building completely different ones. They experiment with other designs and learn what works and what doesn’t. Soon they are inventing their own new creations and developing that essential skill of creative thinking. Once they have built some models they also find different ways to play with them. Sometimes this will be fantasy play or role play, all of which contribute to developing a healthy and active mind.
The models that children build are 3-dimensional and the instructions that they use are pictures on paper (2-dimensional). They have to visualise the picture in 3-D to be able to successfully build the model. Spatial ability is the capacity to visualise objects in three dimensions. These abilities are developed as they play and build.
Teamwork and Social Skills
When children work together to build models they have to learn to cooperate with one another to be able to successfully complete the project. They have to communicate with each other throughout the process. This helps to develop teamwork and communication skills that they will use elsewhere. Building sets have even been used in corporate training to develop teamwork skills and negotiation skills.
When a child successfully builds a model, this is an achievement for them. As they build more models they are developing their confidence in their abilities to build models following instructions and to build their own creations. Soon they have the confidence to tackle larger, more complex projects. These, in turn, boost their confidence more.
As you will see from the rather summarised list above, there are many benefits that a child gains from playing with building toys. This is why these are at the top of my list of good toys to buy for my kids. Not only does it help with their development, but it also gives them hours of playtime.
There are many different options available and I will be discussing these in different articles. Hopefully these will help you to choose the building toys or sets that are most suited to your child.
Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question below.