Are You Game?

Family game time.  It was a regular occurrence at my house growing up.  We played Life, Monopoly, Connect 4, Yahtzee, Uno, Skip-Bo, various versions of cards – pretty much anything we could get our hands on.  In fact, I have fond memories of sitting around a table with my grandma, who’s now in her 90’s, playing games with her sisters when I would go to visit.   Sorting out the tiles.  Counting out cards.  Listening to the chatter, and the thrill (miracle really) of actually winning once in a while.  (Those ladies were cutthroat.)  I loved it.  And I learned a lot.  We all do.

Regardless of age, games have a lot to teach us.  In fact, by the time your child hits preschool age, we actually begin to include game playing as a part of regular Kindermusik classes because they have so much to offer, but even toddlers and babies have their own versions of simple games.

Game playing teaches us social skills.

Through game playing we get to practice taking turns, waiting, listening, and following directions in a positive setting.   Games played in teams also foster cooperation and sportsmanship.

Game playing makes you exercise your brain. Here are just a few of the skills often practiced in game playing:

  • focus and attention
  • matching, sorting, or classifying
  • counting or even simple addition or subtraction
  • sequencing (by asking players to follow certain steps or even match a pattern)
  • memory
  • knowledge of shapes, colors, numbers, or even letters
  • strategy building, planning, and organizing

Games playing helps us connect.

Games help us connect in two very important ways.  First of all, the emotional enjoyment that comes from playing a game actually helps solidify all the other learning that’s taking place as we play, literally strengthening those neural connections.  Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, playing games together gives you the opportunity to share and bond with your child.  The very reason I have such fond memories of many hours spent game playing as a kid is because those hours represent special time my family invested in me, moments they took to show me they loved me by setting aside work or home obligations and just playing with me.  I want my kids to have memories like those.

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