Lego identifies five different types of play – physical, symbolic, with rules, with objects, and with pretence.

Hanne Rasmussen, head of the Lego Foundation, recalls that as a child growing up in Denmark there was more time to play because there were fewer activities scheduled on the timetable. And the same applies in the UK, particularly when we consider that children in the UK start school three years earlier than their Scandinavian counterparts.

Thus many children are missing out on the early play-based learning that is known to promote the development of creativity, problem solving, and empathy.

So is it possible for children to learn about the “Three Rs”, whilst at the same time acquiring the benefits of play?

The answer is yes, yet there is little evidence to suggest the best way of going about doing it.

And so it is for this reason that the Lego Foundation is campaigning for there to be a change of mind-set about play in education around the world.

In their mission statement they say: “Our contribution to the world is to challenge the status quo by redefining play and reimagining learning,”

In response to a study conducted by Cambridge University, the Lego Foundation aims to look further into the benefits of play, not only in respect of learning but also in respect of well-being, by funding research projects at universities such as Cambridge, MIT, and Harvard.

The Cambridge study consisted of children creating, telling, and acting out a story with Lego before writing their story down. The results showed that the play they participated in beforehand enabled them to boost their narrative and writing skills, as well as interaction and cooperation.

Hanne Rasmussen says: ‘In the early years – up to around eight – a play-based methodology makes a lot of sense’.

“All over the world, we see parents spending much energy doing the best for their child, and play is not on that list because they don’t have the background to understand what it could do.”

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Lucy Mister
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