All kids at one time or another, if given the opportunity to do so, will find themselves lost to Legos. By that I mean, the joy of building and creating something from these simple, but unique toys, is something that all kids can understand and get wrapped up in. Entire cities can be created with enough time and Lego blocks. Play rooms can be transformed into monuments, dolls can have new furniture and cars can drive from home to the garage to any number of public buildings, all in a world of Legos. But beyond the obvious creative implications of Legos, there are other educational benefits as well, not the least of which are in the skills and concepts that they teach experientially.
The easiest benefits to point out are the educational tools of space, relationship and proportions, all of which will help to improve math awareness skills. Fun time playing with Legos teaches halves and wholes, depending on the blocks being used. Quarter blocks are also available, and while kids don’t refer to them by that name, they are learning division theory quite nicely! Angles must be taken into account as well when building, which is also learned experientially through trial and error as kids play with Legos and have the opportunity to create.
But what about other educational benefits of Legos? Legos also teach patience and perseverance. That may not seem like an educational payoff, but it is. Kids must learn to take their time, build up from the foundations, and “snap” things together nicely and securely before moving on. The understanding of these concepts will help students to perform better in school because parents know all too well that school concepts work in order, they take time and repetition. There is an order to the learning process in the same way that there’s an order to the building process. All kids like to skip steps in math, fail to show their work, avoid homework, etc. These are important parts to gaining educational competence, however, and Legos help to prepare our kids for this lesson.
Sometimes Legos get stuck together. In the same way, sometimes things get “stuck” for our kids. Having a common experience in Legos, children can be taught to work at their problems. They can learn not to give up. They can benefit from understanding that if things get stuck, they need to keep working to break their problems down into parts. One part at a time, problems are not so difficult to overcome. Do you ever remember scraping your knuckles on a set of Legos as you tried to pry them apart? Sometimes separating Legos is hard work, just like school, but the joy of creating new things, or getting to just the right “piece” is worth the hard work! School, too, is not always fun for every child, and some subjects will be less entertaining than others. But when a child perseveres in their studies, there is nothing more exciting to see than the glow on their faces when a concept is mastered.
Like Legos, our worlds are made up of different colors and shapes, purposes and potentials, but from Legos, we have much to learn. The educational benefits are not as straightforward as they might seem, but nevertheless, our “teachers” they can become.