Think of your child’s happy place. If they couldn’t watch their favorite show and had to find something to do, what would it be?

Is it building and tinkering with metal parts or a construction toy, such as LEGO Bricks?

Do they play for hours with their toys, making up a dialog and stories?

Or perhaps all they want is a marathon session of Minecraft?

These are three different styles of play. You might even have an opinion on which kind is “better” or more enriching and brain-building. Actually, a common element ties them together. It’s self-direction, and as they become absorbed, something great happens in the brain. It opens up into a state of flow.

What is flow?
The state of flow is being immersed and engrossed. Think of an activity you’ve enjoyed, where you didn’t have to “make” yourself do it, but you did it for the sake of doing it. When there’s flow, the sense of self and the sense of the world drop away. But it goes beyond that feeling of being lost in a book or movie. What takes its place is a sense of participating, of productivity, without any separation between the self and the world.

“Existence is temporarily suspended,” says the thinker and psychiatrist behind the flow theory, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Flow’s connection to learning
Being in the zone sounds like fun, but educators talk about how finding it is key to deeper learning and mastery of skills. Later in life, skilled professionals describe this feeling of flow, whether they are scientists, composers or professional ball players.
In the classroom, engaged students who find flow are self-motivated and have better grades, according to the research. Other research finds that students are better able to enter this zone when they had some control over the activity and it has some bearing on their lives.

Finding flow after school
One way to foster flow in kids is to choose the right activities. If your student already enjoys building and creating, there’s a good chance they’ll fly into the zone during a Bricks 4 Kidz workshop.

1. There’s a clear goal, which Csikszentmihalyi identifies as a key component for fostering flow.

2. We choose models and activities that are interesting and relevant to the lives of students. For example, we explore outer space and the physics of amusement park rides.

3. Students who were already building with LEGO models will find the classes are within their abilities, yet our proprietary models often offer something extra that pushes them a little farther. Stretching skills is also key to flow, Csikszentmihalyi writes.

4. They’re in control of their project. While a skilled teacher is on hand to help, we encourage kids to discover the solutions on their own. Afterward, we also leave time for free-form play, so they can apply their skills to explore and create.

5. Feedback, having that yardstick for their progress, and having the ability to adjust, is also key to flow, according to Csikszentmihalyi. Building with LEGO Bricks is perfect because they can see if their creation is coming together well, or if they need to make a U-turn and try a different approach.

In earlier blogs, we’ve shown the connection between construction play and mastering STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and math). In light of this, it only makes sense to choose an engaging after-school activity that adds fuel to the fire of learning. That makes Bricks 4 Kidz a great investment in your child’s education.