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Why do we play games?
When you ask your
child what they did during their therapy session, sometimes they will reply
with “We just played games.” Games are regularly used during school, at home
and in therapy sessions, BUT there are many reasons why games are so important
for building skills.
12 reasons to play games:
- Interaction with others, connecting and being present in the moment.
- Understanding, giving and following directions, instruction or rules.
- Cooperating – working together as a team or strategically against your opponents to achieve an end result.
- Taking turns and developing wait time (also known as impulse control).
- Sportsmanship – winning, losing, not getting your own way, unexpected twists and tolerance.
- Games help to build focus, attention and increase concentration – staying on task and not getting distracted.
- Persistence – sticking with it till the end. It’s best to start with short quick games and gradually increase the number of games or complexity over time.
- Developing learning skills like reading, matching – same verses different, colours, counting, letter and number recognition, keeping score, various ways to use the same tool like cards or dice for different games.
- Repetition of playing the same game builds confidence, speed, memory skills and a sense of predictability.
- Emotional regulation – the way we respond to frustration, unexpected changes, boredom, winning and losing, reading the facial expressions and body language of others and altering your own (think poker face). Games reduce pressure and anxiety while learning.
- Motor skills:
– Fine Motor – rolling a dice, moving counters, manipulating pieces, holding/flipping cards e.g. Uno, Memory, Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly or Chess
– Gross Motor – controlling body movements e.g. Twister or Simon Says
- Games are FUN!
So next time your child reports they have been just playing games, talk to their therapist about the skills they were really working on (without them even knowing!). At home, while you are enjoying playing a family game to pass the time, think about the skills you could practice supporting while having fun. All these skills are fundamental for success in life.