I play games...ALL DAY LONG. I know! What a hard life. But sometimes, after playing games all day at work, the last thing I want to do is play again at home. But when my daughter asks in her cute voice, "Mommy you play Hi, Ho, Cherry-O with me?", I can't say no. And the fact of the matter is, I shouldn't say no.
Why play games?
- Games are fun...at least for your child. :)
- Games teach turn-taking. (Imagine children learning they can't have whatever they want RIGHT now)
- Games teach children that there are "Winners" and "Losers"(or things we are better at and things that are harder for us). An over-praised child is a nightmare to teach, because they never do anything wrong so they have nothing to learn. (Don't be this parent!) Plus if everyone is good at everything, then nobody is actually special. This downplays true earned success.
- Children learn that it is OK to lose. You don't have to be the best or perfect at everything to have fun. If your child FREAKS out, flips over the board when they lose, runs to their room and slams the door...Don't be tempted to stop playing games with your child. They obviously need more practice losing (I'm sure you would be mortified if your child did that after kickball in PE). And no, your child isn't "special" because they don't like losing. No children enjoy losing.
- Games force you to spend TIME with your children. Real time. Not time spent in the same room while you cook and they watch TV.
- Games work on critical thinking skills and problem solving. Children learn to think one step ahead rather than just thinking about right now. (Is it better to play this card now? Should I save it for later?)
- Games work on fine motor skills. Examples include grasping game pieces, rolling dice, flicking spinners, grasping cherries, etc).
- Games work on attention. Don't start a game that you don't think you can finish. Children need to learn to complete entire tasks.
How to make games even MORE therapeutic
- Play games laying in prone (tummy on the floor). Prone position plays an important role in normal development. Time spent in prone helps with rolling and head/neck strength. In this position children learn to prop up on his/her elbows or even weight bear through the hand. It helps a child strength proximally (trunk) so that they can have better dexterity distally (hands/fingers).
- Play games while half-kneeling (think down on one knee to propose marriage), squatting or tall kneeling (knees on the ground, the rest of the body straight up). Again, this helps to strengthen the trunk/core of the body.
- Play games a little "different". Use chopsticks or tweezers to pick up the cherries in Hi, Ho, Cherry-O or to move the markers in Monopoly to work on grasp.
- Play blind-folded Jenga to really work on motor control.
- Use coins as markers when playing BINGO and have your child count up the money after they get a BINGO.
- Have your child recite a difficult letter sound or the first letter of a word before they place a piece in connect-four.
- Make a memory game with the letters of their name (matching Upper case "A" to Lower case "a") and then help them spell their name out when they finish.