Play is not only about having fun or to keep kids distracted, it is a crucial part of a child’s development. Children are building all kinds of skills during playtime. Giving them access to a variety of construction toys and creative products helps them build self-confidence and fosters independent learning. Fine and gross motor skills are developed, eye-hand coordination is honed, and by overcoming challenges they become adept problem solvers. Giving children time to explore and play with others helps them develop into more confident human beings.
For well-rounded development of a child, it is important they play with a variety of things. Natural materials, like sand and water, challenge different senses than do manufactured toys, like wooden blocks and construction materials. For example, playing in the sand involves scooping, patting and wriggling. Whereas playing with construction toys requires grasping, snapping, clicking and stacking, which fine-tunes eye-hand coordination.
Children will normally compare pieces before trying to connect or stack them, which will teach them depth perception and practice recognizing “same and different.” Older children must use math to count the pieces they will need, and reading skills when instructions are included to build more elaborate designs. Children with a learning disability especially benefit from the development of these skills. But toys only do half the job. Another crucial role of playing is the opportunity for children to explore friendships.
Studies have shown that children who have friends tend to be more socially competent and altruistic, and have higher self-esteem and self-confidence. Friendships enable children to learn more about themselves and develop their own identity. This begins paying off during their tumultuous teens, as friends are able to help them reduce stress and navigate challenging experiences.
Construction toys are perfect for sharing, making it easier to have a playmate nearby. Building together fosters teamwork and cooperation. Kids learn to take each other’s advice and take turns. Parents can also join in. While constructing objects, parents can ask their children how they made it, what components they needed to use, or ask for instructions on how to make another one. Not only does this encourage social skills, but it helps children give and understand directions and practice verbalization.