10 Reasons to Tell Your Kids to Stop Doing School and Go Build Something!
Would you like to supplement your curriculum with a program that simultaneously improves your child’s visual perception, fine-motor skills, patience, problem solving, spatial perception, creativity, ability to follow directions, pre-reading skills, grasp of physics concepts and engineering ability? Better yet, what if your child could actually enjoy this curriculum and choose to do it whenever they could? No, this isn’t some mythical homeschool product guaranteed to solve all your problems for a large fee – we are talking about the Legos already strewn through your house, the ThinkPlay sets in our preschool curriculum and the Fischertechnic sets designed for older kids.
Construction kits just might be the most underrated curriculum ever. It’s not just us; research concludes that children learn a lot by designing and building things. Based on our own engineering background/ bias, we believe that construction is one of the most valuable educational processes available and that both learning to build and learning by what has been built should be a part of every family’s curriculum.
Here are our top 10 skills your child will learn with their construction kit:
1. Visual Perception
It may be obvious that it takes visual perception to find the right pieces and place them well, but consider that whether your child is reading, finishing a puzzle, or doing open heart surgery, a proficiency in visual perception is mandatory!
2. Fine-Motor Skills
Boys especially seem to struggle with fine motor skills, particularly when it comes to writing and drawing. Amazingly enough though, they are often the most passionate about building – the natural remedy! The more they fine-tune their dexterity the easier “school time” becomes, for both of you!
Do you know anyone that couldn’t stand to be a little more patient? Construction takes time. Slowing down, reading the directions, doing it over when a piece has been placed wrong or a sibling knocks over your creation… all valuable character-building experiences!
4. Problem Solving
Some children simply lack the ability to trouble-shoot a situation and figure out the next step. Construction sets provide a structured opportunity to figure out what went wrong and fix it, if you’re following the directions. If you are designing your own models, you’ll have even more opportunities to problem-solve!
5. Spatial Perception
Probably the clearest picture of how important it is to be able to mentally convert 2D images into 3D objects is that of a surgeon. Knowing in 2D where the spleen is on a textbook page, isn’t nearly the same thing as being able to reach into an incision and find the damaged spleen!
Not every creative person has artistic ability. I don’t! But construction can open the doors of creativity like no other tool. What if I move this gear over here? Could I build that bridge with only blue pieces?
7. Ability to Follow Directions
Some children are natural rule-followers and need to be encouraged to be creative. Others need to constrain themselves to following directions, at least on occasion! If your child falls into that camp, construction kits are a natural way to encourage them in this skill, with the added benefit of a finished result they can show off to Dad!
8. Pre-Reading Skills
Did you know that a child that cannot duplicate a pattern will be a poor candidate for reading and writing? Not only that, the use of pattern duplication is a proven approach to helping prepare children to understand abstract math concepts and higher order thinking. But if you have a scholar who rolls his eyes at working with pattern blocks and sighs deeply when asked to replicate a design with traditional four-sided blocks, you need construction kits!
9. Grasp of Physics Concepts
Friction, force, mass, energy… all basic physics concepts much more easily explained and grasped with a set of blocks and a ball than simply by studying a dry textbook definition!
10. Engineering Ability
Many “born engineers” are not drawn to textbooks. But set a construction kit in front of them and watch them explore pulleys, levers, wheels, gears… They’ll soon go from exploration to innovation and you’ll be amazed at their inventions!
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