6 Benefits of Blocks for Preschoolers
Why do classrooms always seem to have a block center? What is the reason behind it? Is it simply entertain the students or is there more to it? Find out the 6 unknown (and maybe surprising) benefits of the block center in a preschool classroom.
6 Unknown Benefits of Blocks
- STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math): Although it is probably one of the more obvious reasons, it is still critically important. STEM concepts are the foundation of so many different things in life and help truly build a strong foundation for learning. Blocks provide a simple, easy way for children to test the concepts of engineering and math. Think about it, how often do you see a child try to build the blocks as high as they can, only to have it fall on them? That is the child testing the concepts of engineering. Watch as they start to add more blocks to the bottom to help balance and be able to build their tower taller!
- Question Led Learning: Although it may go against the traditional way of preschool teaching, question lead learning is the new way to teach in a preschool classroom. Question Led Learning is simple, you prompt the children to develop their own questions or use questions to prompt children to discover the answer. By allowing the children to discover the answers to their questions, you are teaching them the important skill of finding out answers as well as developing a sense of learning. Along with these benefits, often the answer is better absorbed in this approach versus a more rote learning method.
- The Importance of Play: Often play is lost for the preschooler. Between the pressure to learn to read, write, and understand math concepts, teachers are pushing towards a more standard classroom which often leads to play time being cut. However, science shows that play needs to be the main component of a preschool classroom. Children need the chance to explore and develop critical thinking skills and imagination. These skills can simply not be taught by dictation from teachers and sitting in a chair. Allowing children to explore and play is so important for early child development.
- Gross Motor and Fine Motor Skills: Simply put, motor skills are important. The block center helps children practice by carrying large, heavy blocks and balancing smaller blocks on top of each other. They will also explore the different shapes and sizes. Fine motor skills lead to better handwriting, while gross motor skills help a child balance and run and walk.
- Collaboration and Cooperation: Social development is one of the, if not the, most important aspect of a preschool classroom. Learning to understand how other people are acting and feeling will help children as they become adults. Children are also learning to work together to complete a task, as the block center is often an area of collaboration. Learning to both take the lead, and allow others to lead is important. Adults are often faced with these challenges throughout their day, and it is important to know how to respond. These skills start off in the block center.
- Literacy: This may be the most surprising aspect of the block center, but literacy is an important part of the area. Oral language is the foundation for all other language, and the block center often requires children to develop their oral language to participate with the other children. Along with the social aspect, children get a chance to create what they are thinking and use words to explain it. I challenge you to ask a preschooler what they are building, I promise the response will not be what you expected.
These Benefits are Important! Encouraging Block Play
The world is continuing to change, and the preschool classroom is right there with it. As we learn more about how the young brain is developing and how to nurture the developmental process, we learn how important play and centers truly is in a classroom. Preschoolers are able to explore and learn through the blocks in ways we never dreamed of. The next time you have a group of students in the block area, sit down and learn with them. I promise they will teach you something new and great!