Why blocks might be a better educational toy

NPR is airing a fascinating series called “Tools of the Trade,” which features iconic objects that form children’s educational lives—like blocks. NPR talked with Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

He says American parents are over­charging their infant’s brains with too much fast-paced media. One study he conducted found that low ­income children who played with blocks with their caregivers improved language skills. Christakis told an NPR interviewer:

“The interesting thing about blocks is that, in one way shape or form, they’ve probably existed for millennia. Long before anyone marketed such things, children probably built things with sticks and stones and some children do that now anyway. Blocks have never, ever, marketed themselves as an educational toy.

For most parents they’ve simply been something that was fun to do. And it’s interesting because in today’s climate there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of toys that make explicit claims that they are educational, that they will make your child smarter, or a young engineer or a poet. And the overwhelming majority of those products have no evidence whatsoever to make those assertions.” 

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