Blocks and puzzles do increase spatial skills in kids

Blocks and puzzles do increase spatial skills in kids
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Blocks And Puzzles Do Increase Spatial Skills In Kids. Playing with blocks and puzzles and board games can help boost spatial skills of your children, claims a new study.

Washington: Playing with blocks and puzzles and board games can help boost spatial skills of your children, claims a new study.

Lead researcher Jamie Jirout of Rhodes College said that as per their findings, spatial play specifically is related to children's spatial reasoning skills. This was important because providing children with access to spatial play experiences could be a very easy way to boost spatial development, especially for children who typically have lower performance, such as girls and children from lower-income households.

Being able to reason about space, and how to manipulate objects in space, is a critical part of everyday life, helping us to navigate a busy street, put together a piece of "some assembly required" furniture, even load the dishwasher. And these skills are especially important for success in particular academic and professional domains, including science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Jirout and co-author Nora Newcombe analyzed data from 847 children, ages 4 to 7, who had taken the revised WPPSI, which included measures of cognitive skills that contribute to general intelligence. The children's spatial ability was specifically measured via the commonly-used Block Design subtest of the WPPSI, in which children are asked to reproduce specific 2D designs using cubes that have red, white, and half-red/half-white faces. The researchers also examined survey data from parents about the children's play behavior and joint parent-child activities.

The data revealed that family socioeconomic status, gender, and general intelligence scores were all associated with children's performance on the block design task. Children from the low-socioeconomic status group tended to have lower block design scores compared to children from either the middle- or high-socioeconomic status groups. And boys tended to have higher block design scores than did girls, though only after several other cognitive abilities, such as vocabulary, working memory, and processing speed, were taken into account.

Importantly, how often children played with certain toys was also tied to their spatial reasoning skills. Children who played with puzzles, blocks, and board games often (more than six times per week) had higher block design scores than did children who played with them sometimes (three to five times per week), or rarely/never.

None of the other types of play (e.g., drawing, playing with noise-making toys, and riding a bicycle, skateboard, or scooter) or the parent-child activities (e.g., teaching number skills, teaching shapes, playing math games, telling stories) included in the survey data were associated with children's spatial ability.

The underlying mechanisms linking spatial play and spatial reasoning require further investigation, but these results suggest that targeting children's spatial play may be one possible intervention tool for improving their spatial ability, the researchers argue.

The study is published in the journal Psychological Science.

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