7 Important Skills Your Child Will Learn from Lego Play
By: Mandy Fredericks
As a parent, there may have been times you've found yourself screeching in pain from stepping on one, two or maybe even ten Lego pieces throughout the day.
You might even go as far as resenting the fact that you bought them in the first place. I felt that way too at one point. That is until I learned first-hand the amazing benefits of Lego bricks.
My son has always loved Legos, and still does. In fact, his nickname around the house is "Master Builder." I often find myself watching him in admiration as he constructs each masterpiece. What’s most interesting, however, is that Lego construction has the ability to capture his full attention for hours.
It's quite easy to overlook the benefits of Legos, particularly if we don't know what to look for in the first place. Although they may seem like simple building blocks, they are much more than that. So what important skills do children learn from Lego play anyway?
- Fine Motor Skills: Building with Legos requires grasping, manipulation, and twisting of the hands and fingers. This in turn strengthens coordination and promotes dexterity, which is necessary for activities such as handwriting and buttoning a shirt, for example.
- Creativity: Free Lego play allows children to let their imaginations run wild, where there are no mistakes or limitations. They can experiment while taking risks and set their own goals in a fun and meaningful way. They also have the freedom to create and explore without any pressure of fear or failure. Karl Goldstein from Bricks 4 Kidz also adds, "Taking time away to build with LEGO® frees them from an artificial world where their eyes are glued to a screen, to physically experience something they can play with and recreate over and over. While I subscribe to the critical importance of following step by step instructions required to complete a LEGO® model kit, it is equally important for children to use their imagination and construct something abstract out of a pile of free play LEGO®."
- Problem-Solving: Whether utilizing structured or unstructured Lego play, kids must analyze what they see, draw conclusions, and readjust if something isn't working out as they had planned when building their masterpiece.
- Three-Dimensional Thinking: Lego building requires children to think about objects in three dimensions. This encourages spatial reasoning, which is the ability to mentally manipulate objects. For example, a child with good spatial skills is able to picture an object rotated in the mind's eye. Spatial skills are also the key building blocks to STEM success, particularly when it comes to robotics. John Grater at Robotech Educational Services explains, "LEGO robotics entices children to create, problem solve, and follow directions at the same time they develop STEM awareness. The simple design of LEGO allows the young student to quickly see success and encourages them to want to learn more."
- Awareness of Structural Engineering and Architecture: Playing with Legos teaches children about structure and stability. If they build a tower only for it to quickly fall apart, they learn that their structure isn't quite stable enough. In that case, a few more bricks may be needed for added support. This is at the root of basic engineering and architecture.
- Following Directions: While free Lego play doesn't require following directions, achieving a specific design does. This encourages even the most eager builder to slow down and read the manual. Lego instructions also contain illustrations, which allow nonreaders to reap the benefits as well.
- Social Skills: Building Legos together with peers is a great opportunity to encourage teamwork, which fosters cooperative play and collaboration.
"Mandy Fredericks is a homeschooling mom who is very active in the community. She's also the founder of Compassionate Kids, a local group of families who perform community service projects monthly. If you'd like to participate, you may join her group on Facebook at Compassionate Kids."