Truth is, early childhood educators have known for a long time that block play (PDF) is a simple, effective, and therefore indispensable, tool in the development of our kids. Playing with blocks starts kids learning basic math and science concepts (abstract) -- sorting, counting, size, shape, weight, spatial relationships -- and the imaginative story-telling that it stimulates improves language and reading skills. When you add in other kids and parents into the equation, your child develops social skills like cooperation, negotiation, and responsibility.
Worried about having to pick up the blocks after your little one is done? Make that part of the process and putting toys away can be a sorting game all on it's own.
Here's some good guidelines used in play-based classrooms:
- We build with blocks, not throw them.
- You may knock down only the tower you build.
- You may build as tall as you are.
- We keep the blocks on the carpet.
- We build away from shelves and other people and furniture.
- We take out only what we will use.