My 9-year-old daughter luckily is not a screen addict and this has led her to occupy herself in other ways. Over the last year she has developed an interest in Lego. Most of us grew up with it using colourful interlocking plastic bricks to construct various objects and buildings.
My daughter would ask for a small Lego set as a reward for good work or behaviour and would waste no time in completing it and putting her achievements on display in her room. Today she bubbles up with excitement at the thought of buying and assembling Lego sets no matter what size. A real treat is to take her into a toy shop and give her free reign to buy whatever she wants. Recently she asked the family to buy her Lego sets for her name day. She was given what she had asked for. Needless to say she completed them all in a matter of hours! Taking pride of place, the shelves in her room are filled with: the catamaran, the Grande Hotel, the Clinic, the caravan site… to name just a few. We’re going to need a storage room soon!
On the one hand watching a 4-year-old handle an i-pad better than an adult, growing up with technology, adapting to it and learning quicker than any other generation is genius. They have access to any information at their fingertips and know how to source it. On the other hand, they’re bombarded with the world of social media where selfies and short attention span seems to be the norm. They have become major screen addicts to the point where they see the world, communicate, socialise and entertain themselves through the screen in their hands. The adverse effect this is having on our children is huge. More and more children lack concentration, find it hard to engage socially and have weak motor skills. Even more pressing is the increasing amount of children being diagnosed with learning difficulties! I blame a large part of it on the screen and by screen, ironically, I don’t mean the T.V in fact the TV is innocuous in comparison.
Surrendering our i-pad to our young ones for some peace and quiet is bonkers. We need to encourage other activities to stimulate and improve their overall cognitive growth and development. Reading, puzzle making, Lego building, playing outdoors, engaging with grandparents and of course the pursuit of hobbies and sports go without saying. Unfortunately, my daughter is not a reader even though I’ve tried to cultivate it. She is more logical and mathematical in her way of thinking which may explain her love for Lego.
Lego promotes fine motor skills
Children practise dexterity as they connect Lego pieces of different sizes and shapes. This requires different amounts of pressure to assemble and becomes a wonderful exercise for little fingers which supports children in being able to control the pressure they apply while writing.
Lego encourages team work
Through playing with Lego children learn how to share and take turns. When working together on Lego construction, children have to agree on the general idea of their play – is it a castle, a boat or a spaceship? Children have to follow each other’s lead and begin to understand how different ideas can contribute and extend their play. Children also have to learn to negotiate roles and responsibilities in order to have an enjoyable social experience.
Lego improves creativity
Creativity is improved as children use various shapes, colours and sizes of Lego to construct intricate designs, be it a police station or a spacecraft traveling to the moon. Creativity and imagination is fostered when children have no limitations to what they can make. In this situation there is no right or wrong, so children can explore their creativity without the fear of failure.
Lego develops problem solving and mathematical thinking
Following instructions to assemble Lego also has a lot of benefits for children’s problem solving, focus and attention to detail. Ideas of symmetry, balance, shapes and sizes are explored during play with Lego. Children experience working with fractions when they observe how many small pieces can fit into a large piece and can begin to experiment with division.
Lego improves communication skills
Lego is a great way to relieve stress and engage in meaningful and joyful conversations. As children comment on their Lego creations, they develop important communication skills including the ability to explain ideas, describe their work, talk about the process and verbalise challenges that they had along the way.
Lego develops persistence
We’ve all watched a carefully constructed tower fall over. Lego teaches children the importance of persisting with a task to see your vision realised. Using Lego encourages children to have a go, take their time and to persevere. As fine motor skills improve, children can create more elaborate construction and follow complex designs.
Lego improves self-esteem
Connecting small pieces of Lego to create a final product that follows a child’s vision can be challenging. Achieving this task holds immense sense of satisfaction that is obvious in a child’s smile when they proudly show off their completed work. This has an immensely positive effect on a child’s self-esteem.
Lego developing lateral thinking and planning skills
Following Lego instructions can be challenging. However, it does help children to develop planning skills as well as lateral thinking. When faced with an assembly problem, children have to retrace their steps and analyse their work in order to find parts that need fixing.
( Taken from www.tsc.nsw.edu.au)