Research undertaken by Oregan University is giving us a greater understanding of the link between playing games and increasing our children’s ability to thrive in school. What’s fascinating is that the games appear to be of the old fashioned variety such as Simon Says and Clapping games – basically ones which test repetition, attention to detail, self control and the ability to listen to an instruction and act upon it. Researchers believe that children who develop these skills known as ‘Executive Function Skills’ also do better at school.
Megan McClelland one of the leading lights in recently published studies suggests “Play is one of the most cognitively stimulating things a child can do,”
One study undertaken at Oregan mapped 430 children’s development from birth to age 25. It was found that the child most able to pay attention at 4 years old were much more likely to complete their education by the age of 25 years old. Another study of over 800 children aged 3-6 years old who played Simon Says and were good at it went on to also be better at Maths and Reading. There is also a suggestion that children who started off struggling with these games could with repetition and support improve.
It appears that some simple creativity in game-playing can pay big dividends in terms of cognitive function and flexibility.
Check out Head-To-Toe a game with a twist developed by the researchers
Teacher makes a series of moves
Child repeats those moves e.g. Touch Head Touch Toes
As the game develops the child is expected to do the opposite therefore
Teacher Touches Head
Child has to do the opposite as in Touch Toes
The game can become increasingly complicated
Another game is Red Light Green Light
In the early stages if a piece of red paper is held up play such as movement stops and if a green piece of paper is held up play starts. All well and good until the swop around so green now means stop and red now means start. You get the drift – it develops attention to detail, flexibility and the ability to accept as well as follow instruction.
Fascinating stuff ….makes me want to research Victorian children’s parlour games!