How LEGO supports Child Development

How LEGO supports Child Development
by Dr. Maryhan Baker

At my parenting seminars I am often asked about how much time school-aged children should have to play each day. The common issue seems to be afterschool activities and homework leave very little time for anything else. My answer is always the same…
I believe play is the single most important activity for children to engage in, each and every day, for at least one hour. The research evidence is overwhelming in documenting the power of play for children’s emotional wellbeing, social development and academic achievement.
With so many electronic and battery powered gadgetry on the market it can be hard to find toys which children find engaging yet stimulate creativity, promote intellectual and physical development more than good old fashioned LEGO.
Here are my top three reasons why LEGO should be in your child’s toy collection:

1. Promotes Fine Motor Skills
LEGO bricks come in a vast range of shapes and sizes, which smaller hands need learn how to assemble and take apart. These small twists and turns of their hands, fingers, and arms promote coordination and dexterity which children need for handwriting, crafts, and independent dressing.
Through their manipulation of LEGO bricks children learn about applying differential pressure; some bricks need small amounts of pressure when building, whilst others require a great deal. The benefits of this hands-on trial and error learning is far more valuable than anything we can say as parents to teach our children about applying the right amount of pencil pressure as they write.

2. Develops Creativity
Play is a child’s work and their way of trying out new skills, whilst perfecting others. Providing a box of random pieces of LEGO and unstructured time is essential to ignite their imagination and develop their creativity. These different sized pieces of LEGO are so exciting because they can become a pirate ship, a space rocket, a magical kingdom or the entrance to another world.
Through imaginative play children lose themselves in their fantasies. An anxious child loses all inhibitions when they are slaying dragons, teaching their pupils, caring for poorly animals, or saving the universe with their super powers.

3. Provides an opportunity to try new skills without fear of failure
When children play they are constantly learning new skills, which can then be generalised to other areas of their life. Playing with LEGO provides an understanding of spatial awareness, promotes a sense of creativity, and teaches mathematical concepts of symmetry, shape and geometry.
Children learn so much more through LEGO play because there is no fear of failure, LEGO creations fall down when you stack them too high, not all our creations quite work out as we planned, but we can always start again.

The possibilities for learning with LEGO are endless!