Thinking about what to get for your toddler, preschooler or kindergarten child for Christmas or an upcoming birthday? How about blocks? Yes, those solid, wooden, indestructible blocks that we all loved to stack up and noisily knock down when we were young. According to an article in today’s New York Times, found here, blocks are having a resurgence in popularity in play-spaces and classrooms. Block play has been shown to help children absorb math concepts, help their fine motor skills, and engage in imaginative, creative play. Blocks also help children learn how to play in an unstructured environment, a skill that is fading as video screens become the playthings of choice for younger and younger children.
Parents can and should get down on the floor and participate in block play as well. The Times article describes parents crowding into a “Workshop on Block Building” (of course, this is New York City), but you can figure out all sorts of fun ways to play even without special training. Here are a few helpful hints: Follow your child’s leads and instructions, don’t ask a million questions or try to take over the project, take pictures of the masterpieces you’ve created, and then have a great time (when your son says it is time) knocking it all down!!
School supply companies are generally the best places to look for the wooden blocks we used as kids, which are still readily found in classrooms. Two companies which feature blocks are Becker’s School Supply (www.shopbecker.com) and Lakeshore (www.lakeshorelearning.com). As you will see on these sites, these blocks are not cheap, but they are a good investment in your son’s learning and development. More importantly, it’s a great way to have fun with your little one!