Oct. 1, 2007 -- Playing with building blocks may build children's language skills, a new study shows.
The study included 175 Seattle families with children aged 18-30 months.
Half of the families received a free set of plastic building blocks and a booklet suggesting ways for toddlers to play with the blocks. For comparison, the other families got the free building blocks at the end of the six-month study.
When the study ended, the parents completed a questionnaire in which they rated their child's language skills.
Among middle- and low-income families (who accounted for most of the participating families), the children's language skills were rated 15% higher for families that got the free building blocks at the study's start.
Did the building blocks explain those results? Maybe, but that's not definite.
Perhaps the parents who received the building blocks paid more attention to their children's language skills. Or perhaps the toddlers in those families had more time to work on their language skills because they spent less time watching television.
The researchers -- who included Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH, of the University of Washington -- call for further studies on the topic.
The findings appear in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
The study was funded by Mega Blocks, which provided the toys for the participating families.
(Does your toddler play with blocks? Why or why not? Talk with others on WebMD's Parenting: 1-Year-Olds message board.)