iThrive Occupational Therapy On Learning Through Play

One of the main pillars behind our ethos is rooted in allowing children to learn through play. This week, Anine van Schalkwyk from iThrive Occupational Therapy in Cape Town uses her hands-on experience to expand on the key skills that develop in a child as they play with our Knock-a-Block:

"My first impression of the Knock-a-Block: simple and genius. As soon as my son and I started playing, I noticed all the developmental boxes being ticked simultaneously. I just love any toy that has no manual and is open ended! It allows so much more room for imaginative play, creative thinking and problem solving.

The ‘building’ portion of the activity allows the child to develop many skills accompanied with building blocks, but upon closer inspection of the specific characteristics of this activity, it was evident that a lot more was going on under the surface. These were the main skills I saw developing:

Self-esteem

Children are allowed to make mistakes during block play. They learn that mistakes are not permanent and can be fixed. This will help the child to take risks and develop a sense of achievement when their ideas work, or when they are able to fix something that did not work so well.

Imagination

Having no specific rules or structure, the child can explore their own ideas and learn through trial and error. They are able to assemble the blocks in any way they want, then disassemble and re-build in a completely different way.

Problem-solving

While using their hands, they quickly learn what can and cannot work. Although you already know something might not work, it is important to let the child explore and learn this themselves, as learning through experience is so valuable.

Basic maths and scientific skills

Children learn about shape, size, symmetry and balance. They also learn about cause and effect, as well as touching on the concept of gravity.

Physical and visual perceptual development

Grip strength, hand-eye-coordination and spatial awareness are all developed while the fingers and inner hand muscles are strengthened.

Although building blocks is very good for developing all the above, taking apart the blocks is JUST AS IMPORTANT. This part gives the child the freedom to break and demolish: something that is very valuable for a lot of children, and something that is not always encouraged during other forms of play. Demolishing something gives the child a chance to let go of frustration and just have fun without any rules. They learn that structures and ideas are ever-changing and are not always meant to be permanent. A child also develops bilateral hand use while breaking down what they built (one hand holds the block, while the other twists and removes the dowel).

So to sum up, I use this activity in my practice and with my own children every single day because it is so versatile and fun. I LOVE this product and you will too!"

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