Play may seem like fun and games, but new research shows that specific kinds of play are actually associated with development of particular cognitive skills. Data from a nationally representative study show that children who play frequently with puzzles, blocks and board games tend to have better spatial reasoning ability. Being able to reason about space, and how to manipulate objects in space, is a critical part of everyday life, helping us to navigate a busy street, put together a piece of “some assembly required” furniture, even load the dishwasher. The data revealed that family socioeconomic status, gender and general intelligence scores were all associated with children’s performance on the block design task. Children from the low-socioeconomic status group tended to have lower block design scores compared to children from either the middle- or high-socioeconomic status groups.
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