How to choose building blocks for kids? What kind of building blocks should I choose?

2017-10-25
How to choose building blocks for kids? What kind of building blocks should I choose?
HOW TO CHOOSE BUILDING BLOCKS FOR KIDS ?
Tomek Pałasz has been professionally involved in building blocks for 10 years so far. He was already a father and was looking for the best toys for his son. He liked building blocks the most, so the choice was obvious. That is to say - the choice of the path, as when it comes to the selection of blocks, it was mainly Lego as far as the eye could reach on the shelves of the Polish shops. Tomasz, what he didn't want to admit in our interview today, is a fan of educational building blocks and doesn't like Lego, so what did he do? He went out into the world. Literally. He has been travelling the world for 10 years, visiting toy fairs in places such as Nuremberg, Hong Kong, Shanghai. He looks for the most interesting building blocks, then he tests them in his company - edublocks.eu, and introduce them - or not - on the European market. As I previously mentioned, he likes educational building blocks the most, so his toys are often found in kindergartens, common rooms, and playrooms. Maybe you don't even know that your children were playing with one of his discoveries in kindergarten or at school. Tomasz not only imports and distributes the blocks in the territory of Europe, but also prepares instructions and decides how the toys are packed so that they are the most comfortable to use and store.

Did you play with blocks when you were a child? What kind of blocks were they?
The first blocks I remember were dark blue tubes of different lengths, joined by yellow pieces. There were also elbows and crosses. The design of blocks was similar to hydraulic pipes, and despite the fact that the fittings were not able to handle the overflow of water, playing with these blocks was very interesting for me.
Does a dad, who's got a kingdom of building blocks, play with children? Does he have time to do it? Does he like it? Do you test new family sets?
Most of our building blocks were tested with children. Finding the time to play with children is a part of being a father, but also a duty of the business owner. I really like this family building - we not only spend time together, but I also have the opportunity to watch children while playing. I realised that we often do not perceive things the same way the children do. Sometimes these things are quite obvious, however yet invisible to adults. When I play with children I see how the blocks work in practice, what works well, but also what needs to be improved. With the help of my children I am able not only to introduce new blocks but also to develop those that I have been dealing with for more than 10 years. New instructions or decisions to prepare another arrangement of sets are mainly the effects of playing together.
   
Imagine that I come to you and say the truth: "My daughter doesn't like construction games, and she doesn't like to follow the instructions. On the contrary, she loves playing in a narrative way or telling her own stories for hours. I'm not going to give her blocks at all. I will not invest in toys that she doesn't use." What will you tell me?
I will say: don't resign from building blocks because it is one of the most developing toys you can give your child. You have to focus more on the choice of the type of blocks to meet your daughter's expectations. For example, choose the blocks that allow for the construction of animals, cars, playground, houses - such elements which enable your daughter to have fun after she finishes building it, in the way she likes the most - narratively. However, no matter what kind of building blocks you choose it is important to show your child HOW to have fun with them. Find some time to sit down and build, tell stories, and support your child. After several times, she will start playing with building blocks on her own. You may also invite her friends or siblings to play. Playing as a group is always more interesting, as our horizons expand with a larger number of people. I'll repeat it again: don't resign from blocks. Building allows for the development of spatial imagination – the child still creates something new, his own projects, stories, buildings, which are created out of nothing, using scattered building blocks.
What is crucial when we want to choose – of these thousands of boxes on the market –  the best building blocks for our child? In my opinion, the most important thing is the selection of blocks according to the child's age.
Above all, don't get carried away. When a child gets a toy which is adequate to his abilities, it gives him much more fun than the toy, which he doesn't understand and don't know how to use. We should select the blocks according to the stage of child development. Therefore, I have introduced a very precise classification on the klocki.edu.pl website. There is no classification such as, for example, for 2 – 5-year-olds. There are sets for specific age groups: 3+, 4+, 5+. Not always the age for which I recommend a set, is the same, as the one typed on the manufacturer's packaging. Because, for example, during our test and games it came out that particular building blocks are more often chosen by older children.  
How to choose building blocks for kids? Should we choose those with the instructions, problem-solving ones - or those without the instructions, focused only on constructing?
At the beginning, we should always choose those with the instructions. You know that I prefer following the manuals, and if a set of building blocks doesn't include them, I prepare them by myself. The instruction is like an introduction to the game, demonstration of the full potential of building blocks, how to assemble them together and how to build them. It guides and encourages the child to start building. Therefore, I carefully adjust the instructions to the age of the child for which the set is intended. Having fun with the instructions is like a warm-up. The child has a clear and visible goal to achieve, task to accomplish, which has a beginning and an ending. It is important that the child finishes the building and feels satisfied to say, "Mom, Dad, see what I have built NOW." Such achievement will boost his self-confidence and faith in his own abilities.  The child will be more willing to take up another challenge and then he will start experimenting and creating the buildings according to his own ideas.    
Are the building blocks an easier toy for daddies? One of the most common questions my readers ask me is: "How to encourage the child's father to start a game? How to warm him up?" Do you think the best way to do it is to bring building blocks? And if so, how to choose building blocks for children, so as to encourage the reluctant father to the game? What is your favourite toy?
The building blocks – alongside trains and tracks – are by far the most preferred toys by men. If we are to encourage a father to play with the child, the easiest way to do this is to choose a toy which he will enjoy too. I am not saying that there is no dad who loves organising a tea party for dolls or making a sandwich from kinetic sand, but I know from my own experience that the vast majority of fathers more willingly participate in the games with building blocks. Especially if there are some moving elements. I personally spent many hours playing building blocks with my daughter. Yes, we also played with "friends" or other "pets" and always had a lot of fun. However, we usually combined these figurines with building blocks and it was the best time we had. Our favourite building blocks are those manufactured by Morphun . For example, Morphun Starter is the ideal set for beginners - the blocks are recommended for ages of 3, and other ones will challenge children up to the age of 8 or 9. Personally, I appreciate them for compatibility - basic elements: squares, triangles or circles are always the same size, which allows for combining them in subsequent sets. There is no force holding Morphun back from having fun. Neither in case of the child, nor the dad.  
You said that while choosing building blocks it is worth to pay attention to the child's age, according to this typed on the manufacturer's packaging. What else would you suggest for parents who stand in front of the shelves full of toys and do not know which one to choose, so they go to Lego because it is the most popular? There is a need to ask the fundamental question of whether the next set of identical building blocks will attract the child's attention for a long time? Will it develop his mind? How can we teach kids trying new things, if we still give them the same toy for years? The only thing that changes is the theme and the packaging but the size of the blocks, its mechanism, the method of joining, design - remain the same. As a parent, I think that we should experiment with different products, but always according to the child's age. If we are ready to reach for something new, then we gain the chance to test the new toy together and find out how it works. Taking up the NEW challenges. Development. What's more, having fun with new blocks provides the priceless possibility to observe the development of our children. At the same time, we obtain the information on how to stimulate their development, promote their interests or – what should always be a primary objective - how to provide a source of a great entertainment.  
Interview made by Ania Oka
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