Childcare and Parenting
Games for brains and family life, plus fire and road safety
Buy Your Child a Christmas Present That Could Change Their Life
The Christmas shopping season will soon be upon us and parents everywhere will be looking for that special flashy toy, computer game or electronic gizmo that makes their child’s face light up. But what about a gift that will light up your child’s mind? Should parents be satisfied with gifts that only entertain their children? What about gifts that also improve their children? Even more importantly, what about gifts that improve their family life?
Many educators and academics feel that “today’s children endure a toxic childhood. To deep cleanse it our children need “real play” (as opposed to sedentary, screen-based entertainment), first-hand experience of the world they live in and interaction with the adults in their lives” (Sunday Times 17.9.06).
Perhaps we as parents should rethink our kids Christmas wish list?
One solution is to put under your tree some good old-fashioned board games.
Board Games?? I hear you say? A bit “retro”, even dull, you say? True, board games may not whiz, light up or make noise, but games can help children sharpen their thinking and develop skills such as problem solving, strategy, mathematical thinking, emotional intelligence and social skills.
According to the head of Ofsted, David Bell, children who play traditional board games at home do better at school. He said the games help children to think for themselves, to wait their turn and to hold a conversation with adults. And he expressed a concern that computer games and television can discourage children from activities that better stimulate their imagination (Daily Mail 31/01/05).
Learning through play is the idea behind MindLab, where franchisees offer an after school education programme that teaches children thinking and social skills through playing board games from around the world. The positive impact of MindLab on children’s development is supported by research which shows that children who follow a MindLab curriculum demonstrate a substantial and lasting improvement in strategic reasoning and problem solving skills as well as standardised maths and verbal reasoning tests. To find out about classes in your area, or for information about MindLab franchise opportunities, see www.mindlabeurope.com or call 01628 509021.
Board games also give parents an opportunity to enjoy their children and interact in a fun and stimulating way. Think back to what family life was like just a generation ago. Parents and children sat together around the table playing cards, draughts or dominoes. They laughed and joked together, tested their own and each others skills and concentration, recognised each others successes, acknowledged defeat and grew closer together as a family.
Compare that to our images of families today who are hypnotised by electronic entertainment, whether they are sitting together watching the television or in front of their individual computer games. Can we claim they are growing together as a family and individually developing their social and thinking skills in the same way as the family scene from a generation before?
And what sort of board games could bring a family closer together and develop children’s skills, I hear you say?
I recommend games that can be played in small groups within an hour and involve thinking, concentration, memory, strategy or calculation. For example game such as: Othello, Guess Who, Mancala, Nine Man Morris, Scrabble, Chinese Chequers, the Memory Game, or Rush Hour. Buy or dust off games that are old favourites too like draughts, dominoes, connect four and card games which are both fun as well as stimulating and challenging.
And don’t forget to set aside some time in your busy holiday season for family game playing. A game that sits in it’s box gathering dust can’t perform magic alone!
So what are you waiting for? Walk down to your local toy store, or if you must, turn on your computer just long enough to buy some of these games off the Internet, and get wrapping. You’ll be giving yourself, your child and your family the best present of all.
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