Duck, Duck Goose, Ring Around the Rosie, tag. Nothing more than mere child's play, right?
The truth is, games provide valuable learning experiences for children. They help reinforce social skills, language skills, physical skills. Look beyond the actual games themselves and you'll find hidden lessons that provide children of all ages with opportunities for enahncing their skills in participating, interacting with others, and enjoying a sense of mastery.
Take Duck, Duck, Goose, for example. Besides chanting and running around a child-made circle, children are actually working on their listening and memory skills as they learn the words of the songs. They are increasing their physical abilities as they jump up and run around the circle in an effort to not get caught. And they are enhancing their social skills as they engage in an activity that requires getting along with a group, waiting patiently for their turn to chase or be chased, cheering on their friends who are making the mad dash home.
Of course there's a lot of learning happening when children play games like ABC Hopscotch. By filling the sidewalk squares with letters or letter tiles instead of numbers, the children are learning their alphabet, learning to balance their body as they hop around on one foot, and to play fiar with others.
As Evelyn Petersen, parenting columnist and child and family advocate points out in her article, Fun and Games: It’s Not Whether You Win or Lose Games, "games teach children many good things, from educational skills to real-life skills such as:
• Honesty (following the rules);
• Cooperation (sharing and taking turns);
• Patience (waiting);
• Persistence (not giving up/completing the task/seeing the game
through to the end);
• Concentration (attention span); and
• Making choices and being responsible for those choices."
One of the biggest benfits children reap from playing games is a sense of belonging to a group. " It is a bond that is the foundation for the child's future interactions with others, when their friendships extend beyond family to peer groups," says Petersen.