It’s loved the world over, spanned generations and lauded as one of the most time-tested toys around, but LEGO is so much more than that. Did you know that playing with LEGO bricks brings proven education benefits, for kids of any age?
Fine motor skills
Connecting each LEGO brick and piece – regardless of its shape or size – is said to help improve dexterity, while also allowing children to practice using different amounts of pressure to complete different tasks. This is particularly helpful when it comes to handwriting, as they can learn how to control the pressure of their pen. It’s also very relevant to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
By using various shapes, colours and sizes of LEGO pieces to construct intricate designs – whether it’s a spaceship or a fire station – creativity and imagination is fostered, and children are free to build without limits. There is no right or wrong.
How frustrating is it when you discover you’ve skipped over a vital instruction, or build something only to have it fall apart before your very eyes? LEGO encourages children to press on – and even rebuild – when the going gets tough, and teaches them that they can improve their skills over time.
Working tirelessly to complete a build – whether that’s by following instructions or creating their own designs – and being happy with the end result is a great confidence booster, promising satisfaction and praise once completed. This has an immensely positive effect on a child’s self-esteem.
The very concept of following instructions is a key life skill made more enjoyable by building with LEGO pieces. Children will practice their focus and attention to details when building a box set, and can begin to grasp ideas of symmetry, balance, shapes and sizes as they go. LEGO plates and bricks are also great for learning fractions – observing how many small pieces fit onto a larger piece – and surface area.
Building LEGO sets with friends is a great way to relieve stress, but it’s also a platform to engage in meaningful conversations. Children can learn how to communicate instructions clearly, as well as the best ways to explain ideas, describe actions and verbalise any challenges they face.
Group LEGO building is also a great exercise in sharing and taking turns, as children must work together to complete the build without mistakes or arguments. Children have to agree on the general idea of their play – is it a castle, a boat or a spaceship? – and follow one another’s lead to keep the play moving forward. Learning how to negotiate roles and responsibilities is also essential for an enjoyable social experience.
Planning and lateral thinking
Following any instructions can be challenging, but it’s also a great way to learn how to forward-plan – and, when something doesn’t go quite right, think laterally. Children are forced to retrace their steps, consider alternatives and assess their work to find what needs fixing.
Watching a group of children build with LEGO pieces side-by-side proves beyond doubt that kids bond with each other over LEGO. For shy kids, building with LEGO bricks can be an ice-breaker and help them feel more confident in a social setting.
LEGO-Based Therapy was developed by Dr Daniel LeGoff in 2004, utilising LEGO pieces as a therapeutic medium to provide effective social skills intervention for children with ASD. Some of the therapy’s target skills include communication, joint attention, focus, turn-taking, sharing, and problem-solving. Other benefits for using LEGO as a therapeutic medium for children on the spectrum include improving fine motor skills, improving visual perceptual skills and expanding imaginative play skills.