Block Play in Child Care: Spatial Reasoning Skills for Young Children

Today’s blog discusses some of the many benefits of block play in child care. These concepts are taken from our new course Block Play. 

Educators have long recognized that the block center is one of the most important learning centers in an early childhood setting. Among the many types of blocks to choose from, unit blocks are the most essential. In fact, unit blocks are universally accepted as one of the most important learning tools available for young children. Among many other benefits, block play can assist children with their spatial reasoning and awareness.

Spatial reasoning, also referred to as spatial awareness or spatial thinking, refers to the ability to think about objects in three dimensions—to be able to visualize objects in space, understand objects’ spatial relationships to each other, and mentally rotate or manipulate objects to form new spatial relationships. This includes a person’s awareness of how they interact with space. Research has indicated that spatial reasoning skills correlate with achievement in mathematics and strongly predict who will pursue STEM careers later in life.

As noted above, block play in child care settings can help children develop spatial awareness and spatial reasoning skills. As children place blocks in various positions, they experience various spatial concepts. For example, learning to build enclosed spaces and experiencing the concept of an enclosure helps children understand the abstract idea of space. Block play provides opportunities for children to experience and talk about concepts related to an object’s position in space and the spatial relationships of objects to each other—for example, above, under, beside, around, and through.

Playing with blocks further presents children with opportunities to address challenges and solve problems. When playing with blocks, children build structures over and over again as the structures fall and need to be adjusted and redesigned. Children discover that there are multiple ways to solve many problems. This process is closely related to real-world engineering tasks and provides children with a foundation of important practical skills.

Interested in learning more? Take our course Block Play and learn to recognize the many skills that block play promotes. The course covers the stages of block play, how block play encourages physical, social, and emotional development, and more. Click here to take the course. 

Looking for more free child care training content? Check out our blog on our recent course Child Abuse and Neglect: A Caregiver’s Guide to Adverse Childhood Experiences.

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