Investing time in building your child’s observation and memory skills not only gives them the confidence to tackle new tasks with confidence, but also helps them learn to resist distractions and focus on the task at hand.
‘Children naturally have very strong observation and retaining skills, they can absorb so much information in the first few years of their lives,’ says Kristian Imhof, country manager for LEGO in South Africa.
‘Playing games with them that can sharpen these skills will equip them to navigate different situations when they’re older, whether it’s keeping focused in class at school, or being able to participate effectively in their workplace as adults.’
Observation games don’t need to be complex and they can be as simple as setting up different scenarios with six LEGO bricks in Kim’s Game. Named after the lead character in the Rudyard Kipling book in which a young boy sharpens his memory skills by staring at a collection of items and then trying to recall them all, a very effective Kim’s Game can be set up with just six different coloured bricks.
Children can be tasked with different activities, such as looking at an arrangement of bricks for a limited time and then having to recall that arrangement once it’s covered with a cloth. Another game could be for a parent to build something using the bricks, and then to break it down or cover it, with the child tasked with rebuilding it exactly, but from memory.
Youngsters can even play the game with one another, changing the positions of the bricks once their friend has seen the original arrangement, and challenging them to identify what’s different.
Honing observation skills in this very visual way can help children sharpen their other senses, giving them the ability to listen actively and become more aware of their surroundings through their other senses too, through smell and taste.
It can even improve their critical thinking abilities as they get older, as they will already be skilled in gathering information and analysing contexts to completely understand the situation at hand – and how to respond most effectively to it.
Interestingly, 93 per cent of parents surveyed in the LEGO Play Well Report said that they believe that play and construction toys such as Lego bricks help develop problem-solving skills.
Strong observation skills also build meticulous attention to detail, which not only plays a big role in being an effective role-player in any working environment, it also helps children – and grown-ups – recognise small details and adjust their actions in response. It might sound small but it could even be lifesaving. Think of something as simple as reading the detail on a medical insert, or checking for a food ingredient that they may be allergic to.
‘Sometimes the simplest games can teach some of life’s most important lessons, which children don’t even realise while they’re having fun experimenting with shapes, colours, and textures. Learning through play is one of the most powerful ways that children grow into smart and happy adults that are resilient and responsive to their environments.’
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