Are you tickled when you see your friends sharing imaginative designs of plastic block scenes that your children have built themselves? Not only do those open-ended play scenes promote essential skills, such as childhood creativity, physical and social skills, and math skills in various ways, as in 1 benefits of block play by NAEYC, but this sharing also shows that their parents are proud of their children's accomplishments. Don't worry, you'll learn simple tips to support your child's play with plastic blocks for healthy childhood development.
Preparing yourself for the block-building activities
You are a supporter of kids toy blocks play.
To better assist the plastic building blocks play with your kids at home, it's important to understand that you are the background while your children are on the main stage. It is an art to be quiet and to observe. Then you will find out what 2stage of block play construction your child is in, what stages of block play your child has already gone through, and what may not be appropriate for the period of child development he is in but may encounter later. Being a reasonable observer, you will intuitively know from what you know about that child and your general experience with blocks when it is a good time to intervene.
Prepare your time for functional tasks.
In addition, kids' toy blocks are a game that requires a lot of time. A child needs enough time to understand and place the different types of blocks. As your child manipulates these other materials, he is improving his spatial awareness and hand-eye coordination and exploring what these materials can do. You need to set aside this time to participate in the block game actively and not slip away in the middle of it. Your half-heartedness may affect your child's attention span, which is unhealthy for their healthy development.
Preparing a positive block play condition at home
Provide enough space
It's better to ensure you've created a space where kids can safely engage in creative, experimental, and exploratory fun activities, so put some space in. Even better, if you can have an area where kids can put things away overnight because there's a sense of pride of ownership and investment in their work, and how you treat it when [it's] done will make them feel honored and respected. And a few days later, the kids can continue to revisit and expand this stack of blocks.
Provide a variety type of plastic blocks:
Be sure to give your child a stack of blocks to choose from. The more blocks you have to dig into the room, the better. If there is only one type of block, such as building bridges and fences, it may significantly reduce the enjoyment of play for children over 3-year-olds. This is because your child is past the play stage of a single type of block game, and he needs more types of blocks to explore and use his imagination. You can buy multiple block collections, especially 3 open-ended types, based on your observations of your child's needs during the block play stage.
Provide a functional block play condition：
"Mum! Dad! Come and play with me!" This is, after all, a minority of cases. To get children more involved in block play, the layout of the block area is critical to the children's experience. The more space and time children are given to interact openly with the blocks by placing them within their reach and allowing them to focus on and engage with the materials, the richer their experience will be and the more interested and impressed they will be to participate. If photos of children's block construction performance are saved and displayed in previous block games, the prouder they are of their accomplishments, the more impressed they will be.
Providing support in block play sessions
Immersing yourself in the block activities
It is important to get into your child's play and observe and record what they are building; the problems they encounter; the interest they show; and what modes of thinking they are. While at first, he may not be sure what scenario he wants to build, through experimental studies, he is able to prove that he can successfully make what he wants. Supporting but not taking over, not providing the child with a model with blocks, is like giving a steady hand to help them only when needed as they learn to walk. This is very important for healthy child development.
Asking open-ended questions
The language during block play is art too. As you sit on the floor and observe your child's build, you can ask, "What else do you want to put on it?" This suggests to the child that the game isn't over and can be expanded. For older children, ask, "What else can you do to keep the tower from falling?" Respond to your child openly and encouragingly, allowing them to respond to you again.
When you explain to your child, "When the pointed end is facing up, the cylinder in your hand will fall off the small triangle. If you put the triangle flat, you can add another block on top", the child in block play may be confused by your words. But if you let him try to place the small triangle with the pointed end facing upward, even if he fails, "Well, he'll learn. As an adult, it's hard not to take over when you feel you know the best way to do something. But don't lead the kids' games unless you're invited to expand their knowledge and help them make new connections.
Adults need to help children in block plays when needed, for example, when they are in a building rut, when children become irritable, when blocks are about to collapse and hurt them, or when 3 plastic blocks need to be cleaned. Please note that children in block play also need opportunities to independently practice problem-solving and conflict resolution and intervene only when necessary.
Level up the block plays with accessories
To maximize the value of the block game, accessories can expand children's experience. To diversify the play process and support the process of idea generation, you can use kinds of block play that you can find at home to encourage children further to use their imagination, for example, pictures of various vehicles, traffic signs, dollhouse furniture, buildings, bridges, cities, farms, etc.
Being proud of your child for block-building activities
Whatever they have built in their block play exploration, take pride in your child's block construction performance and take pictures of them. The more proud they are of their accomplishments, the more impressed they will be and the more they will gain.
Reviewing and planning for the next block game
Traveling ten thousand miles is better than reading ten thousand books.
If your child has misunderstood something, take them on a field trip or tell them the truth through a screen. For example, "Are there elephants in the hotel?" "Is the pirate ship in the pool?" Please understand that what is too profound for them, they can't understand yet. You can wait until they are a little older before you try to give it to them.
Finding your child's interests
By observing, talking, and listening to your child, you can learn about the purpose, effectiveness, and enjoyment of your child's play experiences and know what stage of block play they are in. This information can help you think about how to keep their game engaging and meaningful in the future.
Developing a plan
With all the information gathered from the play experience, you can plan the next steps based on your child's stage of healthy development to address any issues that build on your child's needs to improve their overall play experience and promote healthy growth.
Things should avoid during the play.
- Do not give commands about play or toys, such as, "Don't get out the blocks yet."
- Do not direct your child's play, such as, "You should put the triangle flat. Only then you can add another wooden block on top."
- Do not quiz your child. (e.g., "What color is that?" "Can you find a blue car?").
- Do not ask leading questions. "Don't you want to build a tower?" This can be a subtle way of taking control or teaching.
- Do not provide models for all kinds of block play or structured blocks. Otherwise, it will limit the child's creative skills or other executive function skills.
Summary of parents' support for plastic blocks
In this open-ended block play, they can play as much as they want while benefiting their developing minds, fostering creative skills and other essential skills, such as motor skills, mathematical skills, cognitive skills, eye-hand coordination skills, and social-emotional skills. I hope these 15 tips will help you better support your children's plastic block experience, increase their interest in playing with blocks, and better for child & family development.
2. stage of block play: The Art of Block Building, by Harriet Johnson, 1933
3. open-ended types： What are the open-ended play (inbound blogs)
4. plastic blocks need to be cleaned： How to clean plastic blocks (inbound blogs)
More materials on block play:
building stem skills: https://www.communityplaythings.com/resources/videos/building-stem-skills
the role of the teacher: https://www.communityplaythings.com/resources/videos/building-stem-skills
Frequently Asked Questions About Block Plays
Modern building blocks are safe, but antique building blocks are likely not. In the past, the dangers of lead paint were not known, and it left millions of children brain-damaged.
When kids are young, they explore their world in many different ways. One of the classic signs that the child is exploring is by touching, grabbing, or moving objects. Ever notice how babies tend to like putting things in their mouths? That tactile experience prevalent in a kid's hands is also in their mouth. But the blocks are a step up from more simple items. They can be stacked or arranged by size, color, or shape, providing toddlers with experiences that help them form and refine the hand-eye coordination we, as older people, take for granted. Building blocks are a safe, solid way for toddlers to explore their world.
From about age 8 months to a year old is when they will probably start, although they'll mostly knock it over at first. Also, the definition of building blocks will expand as they age.
As for when they stop, that's a different story.
Many adults, including myself sometimes, never got the memo that we are "supposed to stop," hence the amount of adult/teen-geared Lego sets on the market today.