The use of games for children and adults alike are a great way to improve a great number of mental and physical skills, and often bring with them a lot of significant benefits. Games have a far greater educational influence than most people are aware of. Many children with developmental disabilities, who don’t normally seem to react to their environments are often completely transformed when playing games.
Games have a great impact on sensory perception at a number of different levels. For example: A baseball player learns to process very quickly that the ball is coming toward him, or that he is in danger of being tagged, or that it is his turn; or that he hears the footstep behind him, or his name or number called, a touch on his shoulder, the person’s senses are stimulated so the person can recognize and respond to all the things going on around them. With practice, the clumsy awkward body becomes agile and expert; a child who tumbles down today won’t tumble down next week. We’re never too old to improve our physical ability to respond to sensory stimuli and games are a great way to help us does that.
Games also contribute a great deal to social development. Many kids, because of problems at home, shyness or physical disability find it hard to react with others. Some adults can’t either, and nothing places one at a greater disadvantage in a business or social setting. Many developmental studies show that children that are normally withdrawn for whatever reasons, have shown a lot of improvement in their ability to cooperate with playmates, and have even increased their popularity among their playmates because of skills brought about by playing games. Tests done with shy adults have had similar results.
Games teach children to follow certain limits and levels of self-control. A child who has to take his turn will think more carefully about his turn. A game that requires taking turns is a great way to focus attention, since a player constantly has to readjust plans based on others’ actions.
The as children grow older, their play becomes more complicated, and requires increasingly more social skills. Games for children should have very few restrictions; but as players grow older, the games have more rules and regulations appear. These require even greater self-control. Rules like waiting one’s turn, and not starting over the line in race until the signal is given require a lot of mental and physical control.
What better way to teach a child self control and moral reasoning? When engaged in a game, the child has to learn that even in the emotional excitement of an intense game or close race, he or she has to observe rules and regulations; to choose between fair or unfair, and to act on those choices appropriately.
If children develop a sense of fair play early on, and engage in activities that reinforce these values, it can only be a good thing for the community at large.