The Importance Of Block Play – Specific to Grade R

What is Block Play?

Block Play is when children engage, play and touch blocks. 

Why Is Play Important?

  • It helps children grow and learn
  • It is a way of taking part in everyday life
  • It is key to development and brain growth
  • Children explore and become creative

It is very important that you allow your child to engage with Block play as it aids their learning abilities when they start their journey into grade R (Grade 0) and start learning to read and write.

Grade R: Where to pay attention

During the foundation phase, three areas are paid attention to:

  1. Language – ensure your child develops age appropriate vocabulary – read to them on the regular
  2. Maths – use blocks, sweets and toys as subtraction and addition methods. This gets the children excited and engaged with you. 
  3. Life Skills – ensure you teach your child responsibility, independence and why routine is so important for them  

Language: Why it is important for the foundation phase

In the foundation phase, grade R to Grade 3, teachers will focus on the following areas with your child in terms of language development:

  • Listening and speaking – being able to listen, process and respond clearly, confidently and in the correct manner
  • Reading and Phonics – ensure that you read to your child at least three times a week
  • Writing – encourage your child to practice writing their name and your phone number. This is fantastic for development, memory and their writing skills

The importance of maths and why children need to continue it as a core subject

In Grade R, teachers will focus on the following to ensure that your child’s mathematics develops accordingly:

  • Numbers and number operations
  • Patterns
  • Space and Shapes
  • Measurement
  • Data Handling

Life Skills: and why children need to learn them in the correct way

This area focuses on your child’s all-round development. This includes your child’s social, emotional, intellectual, physical and person growth.

The focus areas are:

  • Personal and social wellbeing – learning how to interact with other children in a kind, sensitive and caring manner. This also includes learning how to share and play with
  • Creative Arts
  • Physical Education

Block Play: Grade R

The building blocks of learning maths

When children play with building blocks (Block Play), it opens up a valuable opportunity to introduce or practise some simple but important maths ideas. By getting involved in block play, you can help children learn colours, understand size, identify shapes and work out the position of different blocks.

Math concepts gained from block play:

  • Counting – “Let’s count how many blocks there are in the tower!”
  • Measuring – “Let’s use our hands to see how tall the tower is.”
  • Matching – “Can you build a tower that looks like mine?”
  • Position in space – “Let’s see what happens if you put that block on top.”
  • Shapes – “Can you make a tower using only triangle blocks?”
  • Colours – “What colours are you using?”
  • Size – “What happens if you start with a small block?”
  • Patterns and sequences – “Can you describe the pattern the blocks have made?”

Language, Language, Language:

It is important that you use the right words when engaging with your child. Not just in day to day activity but specifically to play.

  • Under, next to or on top describe where something is (position).
  • Longer, bigger or shortest explain size, while lighter or heaviest describe weight. These words allow the children to compare blocks (size and measurement).
Tip: Use open ended questions to prompt discussions with your child as you engage in play

Now, let’s go onto cognitive skills and how to build them.

Cognitive Skills:

How to build thinking skills during block play:

Learning how to solve problems, think critically and make decisions are an important part of a child’s development.

Children develop these cognitive abilities (thinking skills) through solving real problems and exploring their environment. The way you interact with children as they play can help nurture this development.

There are many problems to solve and opportunities to explore when playing with blocks. This makes block play a great way to develop cognitive abilities.

How does block play develop cognitive skills?

Firstly, let’s define what cognitive skills are. These are the core skills your brain uses to think, read, learn, write, reason, remember and pay attention. When they work together, they take all the incoming information and move it into your child’s bank of knowledge.

When children play with blocks, they are free to create anything they like. As your child stacks their blocks, one on top of each other, only to watch it come tumbling down, your child starts to understand the concept about balance, gravity and weight.

Block play offers many opportunities for developing life skills, including personal, cognitive (thinking) and social skills.

Language & Block Play:

It is imperative that children learn how to effectively and efficiently communicate with their friends and with adults around them.

Block play creates opportunities for children to develop their language and communication skills. When they play with blocks, children learn new words, express opinions and feelings, and engage in conversation with you and with other children and thus a deeper bond is created.

How Block play teaches language:

  • Encourage conversation – Get your child talking and engaging with their toy. “What are you making?” “How did you do that?”
  • Introduce new words

Try these few hints and tips and let me know what you think.