Kids Learn to Navigate the World Through Games
Creating toys and games that inspire young minds and adults alike to reach beyond their imagination is important to quality family time and bringing people together. Educators that incorporate innovative toys into lesson plans and curriculum are truly demonstrating the power of play.
Innovative toys and games can reinforce a child’s:
- Critical thinking
- Social skills
- Cognitive ability
Although entertaining, board games teach many crucial life skills. Visit the educational resources at www.goliathgames.com to learn more.
Oh, joy. That well-worn box got pulled out of the game closet. Time for another game of Candyland. Draw a card, do what the card tells you to do, and then wait for the other players to do the same. Lather, rinse, repeat. And repeat. Finally, a winner is declared, the cards are shuffled, and the game starts again. Is there anything to be gained from this repetition? Kids are just doing what the cards tell them to, right?
Not so fast.
Even the most basic games – like Candyland – help teach and reinforce important life skills for young learners. “How is that possible?” you ask. “They’re just following directions!” Exactly. I bet you don’t have to dig too deep into your brain to recall the last time you thought “Why can’t they follow directions?” about another adult. But there’s so much more – let’s dig below the surface.
Beyond learning how to follow instructions, games teach children skills needed to navigate the world ahead of them. A big one is this: life’s not fair. In games, a decent amount of the outcome can be left up to chance. We’ve all had those situations where we (perhaps metaphorically, perhaps literally) really needed that Candyland double blue card, but we ended up lost in Lollipop Woods. By learning how to manage our feelings about this at a young age, we’re able to extrapolate those lessons as we grow.
It’s been said that “the waiting is the hardest part”, and this is evident in games – you may see your opponent getting ready to make a move and you see a move that you could make to win the game. Think about playing Checkers – it’s really easy to get ahead of yourself, thinking what your next move could be, and it’s certainly tempting to try to convince the other player to skip their turn (no? just me? OK.) But that’s not how the rules work – you have to wait your turn. Kids can learn the valuable skill of giving another person the chance to complete their turn, their thought, or their sentence. Learning to take turns helps children develop empathy, as they grow to understand that not everyone runs on the same operating system, and that it’s OK to take different approaches to solving problems.
Speaking of Checkers: what happens when your opponent makes a move you didn’t anticipate? It’s easy enough to sit there in stunned silence, but that’s not necessarily productive. It’s best to be able to adjust and adapt. I can’t stress enough what a crucial skill this is. The unexpected happens all the time, and to be able to quickly pivot with a new plan or outlook can be your saving grace. It may just be a game of Checkers, but it could also be an unplanned request from a teacher or a supervisor.
Finally, winning isn’t everything… but we can admit that it’s a great feeling. How do we handle it when we aren’t on the winning team? After all, if we followed the rules and played our best, we deserve that dopamine rush! Through gameplay, our kids learn how to be gracious in defeat and to be able to say, “You played a really good game and I’m happy for you” – and really mean it. By not achieving their desired outcome, they can also learn how to be a good winner; after all, by understanding what it feels like to lose and be treated graciously by your opponent is a valuable experience. Not a fun experience, but one that expands children’s capability for empathy.
These seemingly small teaching moments help children develop into well-rounded people with the ability to handle a variety of situations. As parents and educators, it’s incumbent upon us to help them do that. Kids need these tactics and tools to succeed at the game of life.