How do parents decide whether a game is appropriate for their child? If you’re buying a board game, the answer is written on the box somewhere, but when you’re using your imagination to make games, here are a few things to keep in mind about children’s developmental stages and the selection of games.
A child’s natural interests lead her to a preference for different types of games at different phases of her development. Kids have an instinctive ability to gravitate toward age appropriate play. If they’re ready… they’ll play.
Here are some characteristics to look for when selecting an activity for 4-6 year olds.
1. Lots of repetition.
Did you ever wonder how little kids could play “Ring around the Rosie” for round after round and not get tired of it? Kids love the repetition of games like these because they’re absolutely predictable, and that’s comforting for children.
2. Opportunities for Impersonation
At this age, pretending to be an animal or favorite adult like Mom or Dad is particularly appealing. This gives kids a chance to use their imagination, and develop their dramatic ability. Games where children mimic animal noises are wildly popular at this age.
3. Simple Chase Games
Chase games involving one “runner” and one “chaser” are great for kids this age. It’s tougher for them to handle games like tag with multiple players, but with only two, it’s easy and fun.
4. Keep it short!
Children (and many adults for that matter) have short attention spans. Therefore, the games should correspond to their attention spans. Games that are short, and reach their climax quickly don’t demand a lot of their attention span and physical endurance.
5. Keep it Simple!
Children at this age don’t have a lot of advanced gaming skills, so make sure you keep the game as simple as possible mentally and physically. Part of keeping a game simple is having as few rules as possible, beyond “taking turns.”