Toddlers Don’t Need Tablets
Many parents have been led to believe their child will be left behind if they don’t have access to a computer almost from infancy. Their worries are unfounded. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time at all for children age two and under, and no more than two hours a day for ages three through eighteen. Some of the adverse effects doctors see in young children who use tablets, smart phones, televisions to excess include: obesity, poor sleep, aggression, and school problems. Avoid these problems by enriching a preschooler’s environment with traditional toys such as blocks instead of flashing screens.
Educational And Developmental Benefits Of Block Play
Blocks are a fixture in most preschool classroom for a reason: young children learn many valuable skills while playing with blocks. For example, while children happily stack, sort, and build, they are creating the mental framework for future math success. From age three to five, children progress from simple constructions, such as enclosures for toy animals, to more complex structures. Along the way, they learn sorting, size and shape, symmetry, and problem solving.
As a child builds, he or she learns about many important concepts in physics, such as gravity, compression and tension, and balance. Learning to see things in three dimensions is an important skill for future engineers, designers, and artists, as well as a vital skill for future understanding of geometry. Children learn to build structures that are both stable and attractive. They also learn that sometimes a design does not work and some problem must be solved to build what they envisioned.
Vocabulary skills are enhanced if a parent plays with the child and uses words such as up, down, under, same, different, cube, triangle, etc. With any toys, parental involvement multiplies the fun and teaches valuable social skills such as carrying on a conversation and cooperating to solve a problem.
Choosing Blocks For The Home
Blocks are flexible toys that can be used in many ways. Provide different types of blocks for variety. A set of wooden blocks is one basic every child should have. Interlocking blocks such as Mega Bloks (in age-appropriate sizes) or Lincoln Logs provide another option and can be used together with basic wooden blocks to create a farm or a town. Accessories for a block play area may include toy vehicles, people, and animals.
To keep the play area neat and encourage good organizational habits, provide a rug that defines the block play area. Also provide storage cubes or baskets on shelves so children can put the blocks away neatly, with like kinds of blocks together.
While a tablet makes less of a mess than blocks do, blocks offer an opportunity to teach responsibility and show children they can build things all by themselves and clean up after themselves. They get to learn with their own hands in three dimensions instead of using one finger on a flat screen. The cognitive skills they develop while playing with traditional toys will ensure they can quickly get the knack of using a computer when they are older, so parents can put aside fears for their child’s future and buy some versatile and fun blocks as holiday or birthday gifts.