Why Block Play is So Important for Child Development

Sometimes, the simplest things in life are the best.  And when it comes to an activity that delivers all-round benefits for a child’s development, old-fashioned block play is hard to beat.

This open-ended form of play has been around for generations and it remains a favourite among young children and childcare professionals alike.  For little people, it’s fun and creative while from a developmental perspective, it provides valuable support for at least 9 vital areas of a child’s learning and development.

What is block play?

Block play involves playing with blocks of differing colours, shapes and sizes.  Children have fun building things, taking them apart (or knocking them over!), stacking the blocks, creating bridges and enclosed spaces or even building complex structures which have a purpose (eg a ‘zoo’ for little plastic animals). 

A child can play with blocks alone or interactively with others and they’re free to create, explore, imagine and have fun with these simple, yet oh-so engaging items.  It’s open-ended and the child is fully in control, so there’s no right or wrong way to do things.

Now we’ll delve a little deeper into why block play is so important for a child’s development and will cover the following key areas:

  • Social benefits
  • Physical benefits
  • Creative benefits
  • Cognitive and intellectual benefits

Here are 9 learning areas which benefit from block play:

Self-expression.  When playing with blocks, children learn to express themselves freely.  If they’re building in a group, they also learn to play interactively with others, becoming more comfortable with concepts like sharing and taking turns.

Self-esteem.  This is such a critical aspect of a child’s development and through block play, they learn to take risks and explore the consequences of their independent ideas.  When they manage to construct something that they set out to do or find joy in an unexpected and unique creation, they feel a sense of achievement and feel good about themselves and their place in the world.

Physical benefits.  Picking up blocks of different shapes and placing them carefully helps develop a child’s fine motor skills, improves their dexterity and their sense of balance.  It also strengthens their fingers, wrists and hands.

Spatial awareness.  Spatial awareness is a crucial skill and it relates to how aware a person is of their surroundings and their position relative to objects in the space around them.  Block play – especially when more complex structures are involved - helps a child develop their spatial awareness.   

Imagination and creativity.  Open-ended block play encourages children to explore and discover and to use their creative imaginations to create structures.

Problem-solving.  Block play is great for developing a child’s ability to find solutions.  They also learn by trial and error, discovering when something doesn’t work (ie their tower falls over or their roof collapses!).

Maths.  From counting, addition and subtraction to measurements, symmetry and comparison – children get exposed to lots of different mathematical concepts when they’re having fun playing with blocks.

Science.  Who would have thought that simple building blocks could illustrate scientific principles?  Well, when children experiment and explore, they’re introduced to concepts like balance, gravity, weight and scientific reasoning. 

Communication and literacy.  Interactive block play can help a child develop their communication skills and learn new words.  For example, they could describe the shapes, sizes and colours of the blocks and describe the different parts of their structure.  Their communication skills will also be boosted when they’re playing with others, and when they create and tell a story about their construction.

At first glance, block play just looks like a simple, fun activity for young children.  But like all of the games and activities that form part of daily life at our Treasured Tots childcare centres, it’s so much more than that.  There are wonderful and very necessary benefits to be gained from block play, whether it’s inspiring creative expression, encouraging problem-solving, building physical, intellectual and social skills or boosting a child’s self-esteem, and we just love seeing the children grow and blossom as they learn through playing.

If you are investigating early learning centres in Perth, we welcome you to get in touch with Treasured Tots.  We have four childcare centres in Mandurah,  Fremantle,  Bibra Lake and Piara Waters which provide high-quality childcare and kindergarten programmes for children between the ages of 0 and 5 and we’d love to show you around one of our ‘homes away from home’.  

Book a tour of any of our wonderful centres to ensure our management team are available to show you around and answer any questions.

If you found this article useful, you might also like "Benefits of Mud Play in Early Childhood" and "How Art Helps With Child Development".

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