Why Stacking Toys Are So Good For Cognitive Development
You may have heard that stacking blocks can be a great way to build your child’s intellect. But why are stacking toys good for your child’s cognitive development? Does it help them to build critical thinking? What about building an understanding of spatial relationships?
In this article, we’ll walk you through why stacking toys are great ways to help your toddler build their mind. In a nutshell, stacking toys are great because they encourage your child to find order in a bunch of objects.
Stacking toys are often very simple. The typical stacking toy has a central pillar, and then objects which are fitted over or around that pillar on top of each other. Each object is smaller than the one that comes before it on the pillar.
The idea behind these toys is that your child will see the pile of unsorted objects and arrange them on the pillar such that they are in order. This means that the largest object will be at the bottom of the pillar, and the smallest at the top, though there are a few variations of the theme.
The objects are often saucer-shaped and are adorned with pretty colors which may also play a role in suggesting their place within the stack. The simplest stacking toys are a few rings around a central pillar.
These toys are typically made of cheap plastic, and they’re not meant to last because they have a narrowly defined role in your child’s cognitive development — think of them as challenges to overcome which better your child.
Especially for children who aren’t yet fully verbal, stacking toys can be a great tool for helping them to organize their thoughts. Finding the trend of object size is the first important part of the toy’s contribution to cognitive development.
Finding trends in objects helps your child to:
- Evaluate evidence
- Consider narratives
- Develop a coherent narrative or plan
- Test the plan against reality
In short, the art of making the stack forces your child’s mind well out of its comfort zone. At the age children typically use stacking toys — toddlerhood — the world is still very oriented around your child as far as they are concerned.
You address their needs, set their short-term goals, and help them to attain those goals. But the stacking toy disrupts this paradigm. Your child is alone when it comes to solving the problem of providing order to the disordered objects.
While your child may not get the point of the toy at first, they’ll figure out how to use the objects soon enough. The act of figuring out the purpose of the objects in the stacking toy set is part of the allure. Your child’s cognitive capabilities will increase because of the effort that they expend.
Stacking Up Intelligence
Stacking toys are good for your child’s cognitive development in a number of important early areas like spatial relationships and even critical thinking. Your child will outgrow stacking toys very quickly, however — there isn’t much to them most of the time.
Once a toy has been “figured out” your child will probably lose interest. This is a good thing! It means your child is seeking new experiences after they feel they have mastered the principle behind the toy.
Heed your child’s signals to you that they have graduated beyond the stacking toy. You could easily get them another stacking toy to test their understanding of the principles. Make sure that the second or third stacking toy is harder than the prior ones.
Many more complex stacking toys introduce multiple spatial relationships that have to be mastered before your child can successfully complete the toy’s puzzle. These are great for children who are in the slightly older age range of the stacking toy set.
Finally — and this is very important — don’t help your child out with the stacking toy unless they are really struggling with it and don’t seem to be making any progress. The entire point of using the stacking toy to foster cognitive development is that it is your child who is figuring it out.
If you hop in to bail your child out when they face a problem that is difficult for their current level of cognitive development, they won’t be able to learn. Learning requires pushing their boundaries, oftentimes beyond where they think they can reach.
When you give your child a stacking toy, understand that it is their responsibility to build their own cognition. By giving them the stacking toy, you are handing them the ability to further themselves — but they are the ones who have to work for it in the end.