Toys are important. Not only are they fun and great for keeping your children busy while you handle all of your responsibilities, they have actually been linked to cognitive benefits for your children. Legos have been one of the best toys for children for decades, but what makes them so popular and why are they better for your children than other toys?
What kind of Toys Will Help My Children Learn?
When you’re looking for toys for your children, you usually see them split into two distinct categories: educational and fun. The educational toys are still fun and the fun toys can be educational, but the intent behind them is clear. Educational toys, specifically, have some distinct characteristics. For one, they usually make learning the goal. Leapfrog is a great example of this. Their entire brand is based on encouraging children to learn.
For infants, this is usually seen in the form of practicing and building their motor control. As they get older, communication becomes the focus and their toys have them speaking and listening. After that, they start focusing on reading and writing with reading games, learning activities, and writing games. These toys are based on the way students learn in a class. They progress linearly, making sure your children gain the skills necessary to move on to the next subject so they can continue learning. But what if I told you that that is not the only way to encourage your children to learn? What if I told you it’s actually not even the best way to learn?
Those “fun” toys often have the same cognitive benefits for your children that so-called “educational” toys have. In fact, to call a toy educational is redundant because all toys are inherently educational and inspire learning. Some toys simply help more. The best toys for learning are not the educational ones because the best toys don’t teach. The best toys for your children merely present an opportunity to learn. This is called learning through play, and studies suggest that it is the most natural form of learning.
What Is Learning Through Play?
As children play, they’re constantly picking up information and growing. What looks like a dumb game to an adult is actually an opportunity for a child to develop vital skills. The best type of play for learning is made up of three parts. First, it is engaging, meaning that the child is encouraged to interact and take part in it with their complete attention. Second, it is creative, such that your child holds the power to make decisions and the freedom to innovate. Finally, it has to be fun, so that your child is encouraged to continue playing until they have learned what they can from it.
Playing and having fun is crucial for children to develop their social, emotional, and intellectual skills. By playing in free and open environments, they build on their logic and creativity in ways that continue to help them through the rest of their lives. Play is so important to children, in fact, that the United Nations has even recognized play as a specific right for all children.
What Are Legos?
Speaking of toys, Legos are an excellent example of a toy that has seemingly little apparent educational value, and yet which contains a wealth of learning opportunities for any and all children. Legos are sets of mall building pieces that children can use to construct all kinds of different structures, vehicles, and buildings. They often come with instructions to make specific things out of the pieces included, but it is possible and even encouraged to make your own creations. The idea is so simple that it’s genius, and it works. Even many adults play with Legos. If you’re interested in learning more about the toys, or even the history and some helpful tips when looking for what to buy, check out Legoways.com. The author and creator of the blog knows more about Legos, their developmental benefits, and their history than anyone, maybe even more than the original inventor!
Why Are Legos Important?
One of the things that makes Legos great is the open-ended nature of the toy. There is no specific way to play with them, they require imagination, there are theoretically endless ways to combine them into different creations, and there’s nothing telling children how they should be playing with them. Your child can make and do whatever they want with Legos. This open-ended nature is precisely what makes Legos come alive for a child and its why they are so important.
Knowing the benefits of play, it’s both tragic and sad to see the way many children spend their time these days. Children whose days are hyper-structured with things like school, sports, music lessons, and all the myriad activities that look great on a college application, are actually missing out on the education they need to be getting from play now while they’re young. Children who are allowed to do whatever they want are in no better shape, as each year more children are choosing to spend terrifying amounts of time inside on their phones, computers, tablets, and video game systems.
Legos provide a chance for your child to create. They provide a world where your child makes the rules. They even foster cooperation when children play together because they have to work together to build things and problem-solve as a team. In a world where playing around is so often mistaken for a waste of time, it’s crucial that we provide open and creative environments for our children.
Next time you go shopping for toys, don’t be taken in by those ‘educational’ toys, use your own imagination and think of all the skills and abilities your child will get out of those ‘fun’ toys. And maybe pick up some Legos while you’re at it. Years from now, when you watch your child receive a college degree in engineering, architecture, art, or whatever they feel inspired to study, you might be happy you did.