Monday, July 26, 2010

Games People Play

Even though 'I'm Board Day' was not my favorite activity with my own children, there obviously is a lot of value in playing games with your kids. The young child is learning a lot about their world during their preschool years and play is an important part of their growth.

Playing a game is all about cooperation. It's about taking turns. You can't always go first. Reacting to what others say and do-Who gets the race car or the top hat? if someone takes the top hat, I guess I'll have to be the iron. I'd like the yellow piece but I'll have to be blue this time. Requiring behavior of players that make the activity run smoothly. No tantrums, name calling, throwing of game pieces or storming away from the game table. Sound familiar? Just remember your child is learning social skills and developing social behavior. Be patient.

Your child's attention span is getting longer and longer. Playing a game helps your child develop and sustain various levels of concentration and attention. Concentration is required for any learning process or activity. You have to concentrate to read, put a puzzle together or swing a bat. Playing games helps your child learn to concentrate on one activity.

Following the Rules
Life has rules. There are rules whether they are written or unwritten. We go to the back of the line, the rules of the road, table manners and general etiquette help us handle our lives in a successful and logical manner. When your child is playing a game it gives them a better understanding of following the rules. They begin to see following the rules helps provide structure to perform a specific task. It also can show your child rules can be modified. For example, in Monopoly who doesn't put money in the middle to collect when you land on FREE PARKING?

Learning About Goals
There is a purpose to playing a game. Games teach children that doing things with a specific purpose is achievable and can be enjoyable.

Contact and Conversation
When my family gathers, we play games. We play cards, dominoes and various board games. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins are gathered around the dining room table for one purpose. TO BRING DEFEAT TO THE OTHERS! No, it's about contact and conversation. Conversational skills are an important aspect of your child's social and verbal development. The conversation may create conflict and conflict resolution issues. New games introduce new vocabulary to children. Your child has to listen to rules being explained. Players ask questions to clarify their understanding of the rules.

Winning & Losing
Sore winners and sore losers. All families that play games have them. Preschool children already have the knowledge of winning and losing so often they are very enthusiastic about playing games. They also have a tendency to react very badly when they lose. So do you fix the game so your child can win? Absolutely. For awhile. What do you think will happen if you child consistently loses to you? They will get discouraged and be reluctant to play. Do you let your child win always? Absolutely not. Win a game once in awhile to teach the social graces of winning and losing (reach out your hand and say, 'Good game!')

There are other benefits to playing games. Games can help with reading and math skills, letter and number recognition. Games also bring the generations together. Many games can be played by young children and their grandparents and middle school siblings.

So next time you have family game night remember it's not all fun and games--A lot of learning and growing are happening around the kitchen table!

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