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The Learning and Development Powers of Lego on Children

Posted May 07 2013 6:40am

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Few toys have stood the test of time like Lego blocks. In the age of motion sensing video games, 3D movies, smartphones and smart glasses , it’s remarkable to see how these colourful plastic building blocks continue to entertain kids (and grown-ups, too!) for hours on end.

Legos are much more than just toys however–they enable kids to imagine, create, engineer, plan and execute and this is also the case for children with special needs. Here, we look at 5 ways that a trip to the LEGO store can help to develop your child’s physical and cognitive skills.
1. Fine Motor Skills
According to Dr. Gay Girolami, president of Neuro-Developmental Treatment Association (NDTA), stacking blocks not only involves picking up the blocks, but knowing what to do with them and making a plan of action. When children are asked to grasp, separate and even apply pressure to Legos, they are given the opportunity to develop fine motor skills. These blocks can be especially motivating for children who struggle with dexterity. Often, children have no idea that they are learning or developing a new skill; they merely think that they are playing.

2. Thinking, Planning, Organizing
When children follow the directions that come with their Lego set, they learn critical planning and organizational skills. For children with special needs, whom need practice and reinforcement with executive functioning skills, they can be given these blocks and asked to follow explicit directions to build something. This task helps children develop and practice cognitive skills such as planning, problem solving and time management.

3. Tactile Sensory Input
Manipulating Legos provides a range of tactile sensory experiences for children, from the matching of colours to the rewarding sound of snapping blocks. For children with attention deficit disorders and those with autism, a source of sensory input can help provide a sense of focus. Being able to hold onto and manipulate something when feeling anxious can also give these children a sense of calm.

4. Independent & Social Skills
Playing with Legos alone or in groups have their own sets of unique benefits. When kids play alone, they are doing a task independently, and they are completely engaged doing it. As one Wired magazine article puts it, this time alone “is a healthy departure from that socialization that is pressed so heavily upon children.” This is not to discount the importance of children developing their social skills early in life. Strong social skills give children a sense of belonging and acceptance that is important in building self-awareness and self-esteem. Encouraging children to play with Legos in groups of two or more, will help foster these social skills as the act of seeing a project through to completion can help promote cooperation and sharing.

5. Math Skills
Lego blocks can help to develop beginning math skills in toddlers. Young children can be taught about patterns, size, addition and subtraction all through the use of colored blocks. As a teacher, you can ask children to pick out a certain number of a particular color, hand you three blocks of the same shape or make a specific pattern using the blocks. The possibilities are endless when it comes to LEGOs and math.

While it’s no secret that LEGOs are a favorite toy among children, they’re also a fantastic learning tool that should be part of every kids’ toy box.

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