We’ve all seen the “I hope you step on a Lego” meme, and truly, stepping on one of the miniscule pieces is a very particular kind of pain. To add insult to injury, the pain associated with Legos isn’t always physical. The mental anguish of sticking adult sized hands into the crevice of a car seat to retrieve a beloved figure as your child wails with regret and worry is another byproduct of Lego investment. Finally, if you’re a neatnik, the sight of the mismatched pieces strewn all over your home could send you over the edge.
However, we suggest you fight your inner Evil Lord Business (that’s a Lego Movie reference for the newbies reading) and learn to love these toys. There are nearly as many benefits to them as there are pieces to play with.
So, what age is best to start buying Legos for kids?
Duplos are the introductory level, and are designed for kids starting at age one. Lego.com breaks down the shopping by age, and all the sets sold in stores are marked with a suggested age range. Duplos sets feature friendly, chunky figures and animals that are perfect for little hands (and mouths, because let’s be real - a toddler can’t really play with something unless they give the ol’ taste test.)
Brick buckets and tubs, which contain the iconic rectangles and squares of assorted color and size, are marketed towards children ages four and older.
Once you’re into the brick sets, the age ranges change based on levels of complexity, required patience, and often, sheer scale. There’s a Lego set for every interest and affinity and there really is no age limit on building with Legos. Some of the kits aimed at 12 and up interface with apps, create working robots, and reproduce famous art, such as Andy Warhol’s iconic “Marilyn.”
Do Legos really help with my child’s development?
In short, absolutely. Pediatricians consistently urge parents to stick to basics when it comes to toys, especially for the youngest age groups. Blocks and puzzles not only help kids develop fine motor skills, but they also teach kids problem-solving skills, math and can improve language and brain development.
Learn about shapes and colors:
At the Duplo introductory level, Legos teach and reinforce shapes and colors. Of course, we suggest sitting down on the floor with your child amongst the pieces and interacting with them, asking questions and prompts such as, “Where is the blue block?” This leads to language development and social-emotional skills.
Fosters creative thinking:
Imagination and creativity bloom at every level of Lego set. Legos are a form of art. Even if the instructions are explicitly followed to create a scene, the dramatic play that follows using the characters and accessories is one of our favorite things to see. Experimentation and self-expression flow as towers rise and crumble and odds and ends become intricate add-ons to sets.
Builds confidence and patience:
Structures and scenes aren’t the only things being built. Confidence and patience will grow upon completion of a set or even a rebuild, along with feelings of accomplishment. The self-satisfaction that comes hand in hand with the task of completing a creation teaches kids that sticking with a task and taking the time to do hard work is rewarding.
Develop fine motor skills:
On top of all that, Legos help kids make huge gains in the development of fine motor skills. For the generation that has been swiping screens almost since they could sit up, the impact bricks and blocks can have on developing dexterity and spatial awareness is huge. Deciphering pattern and order and understanding quantity and pattern are essential skills that kids will pick up and improve on all while having fun. And trust us, parents will find themselves dusting off their skills by helping.
But...they feel so commercial, and consumeristic….
We get it. The urge to buy only eco-friendly wooden toys is strong in the early years. And then, once you’ve been in the toy market for about a decade, you simply don’t want to add another piece of plastic to your household. Add to that that the Legos lost to washing machines statistics must be sky high across the globe, and you’ve got a handful of reasons not to enter the wonderful world of Legos. If you don’t, though, you’re missing the opportunity to enhance your child’s world on a variety of levels.
These days, there are Lego recycling programs, chains like Bricks & Minifigs, where well...bricks and minifigures can be sold and traded, and a treasure trove of Pinterest ideas for what to do with your stash. (Could shellacked Legos become the new granite or quartz?)
Or you could clean them, store them, and break them out for your grandkids someday, and start the process of learning, sharing, and creating over again...brick by brick.