What Children Learn
Children are always learning. One of the best ways they learn is through play. (Read our earlier article on the impact of play.) Playing with blocks can open the doors to the world of science, technology and mathematics, also known as STEM.
NAEYC (the National Association for the Education of Young Children) who accredits CEDARS Early Childhood Development Centers has cited research showing that children build number and math skills from a very early age. Children who are strong in math skills early on excel in math later. Research also shows that playing with blocks is related to later math competence and particular interest in STEM careers.
When children play with blocks they might encounter problem solving, creativity, imagination, counting, adding and subtracting as well as developing their fine motor skills.
Stages of Play
NAEYC suggests that there are eight stages of block play. An 18-month-old will play with blocks differently than a five-year-old. Children will develop skills and advance through the stages of play at their own rate.
Stage 1: Discovering Blocks
Stage 2: Stacking Blocks
Stage 3: Complex Stacking
Stage 4: Making Enclosures
Stage 5: Creating Bridges or Arches
Stage 6: Combining Enclosures and Bridges
Stage 7: Building with Patterns and Symmetry
Stage 8: Building Block Structures that Represent Objects for Pretend Play
When we play together, we create emotional bonds. We can be at the forefront of watching our child discover the world and her interest in STEM. As parents we might also gain STEM knowledge from this play as well. Maybe we forgot the intricacies of balancing a tower, the symmetry of a pyramid, or the structural engineering of a bridge. Together we can learn to take turns, listen and talk about what is being built, sort, problem solve, predict and observe outcomes, make patterns, compare, wonder and more. When you play together you harness social and emotional learning and growth in self-esteem.
Pull out that bin of blocks and start playing!