Why use games?
When children play an educational game with an adult, they learn far more than the stated aims of the game. Playing with an adult creates a positive climate for learning in which practising skills is associated with fun and affection. The adult's participation signals that the game is valuable and worth the adult spending precious time on it, so the child pays closer attention to its content.
As the adult and child play together, the adult can “scaffold” the child’s learning, asking questions, providing guidance, suggesting and explaining strategies. If the adult knows the child well, they can help them make new connections and draw on previous experiences.
Co-operating with other people
Learning to take turns, reacting to what other people do and behaving in a way that makes the game run smoothly are all important in developing sociable behaviour.
Developing and sustaining a level of concentration are necessary for any learning to take place. Playing games introduces these skills to young children and helps them to develop patience, persistence, resilience..
Following the rules
Many things in life have rules to follow, written or not. Making a telephone call requires doing certain things in a certain order to succeed. Following rules in a game is useful experience for a child to learn rules provide a logical way to tackle a task.
Learning about goals
Games teach the value of aiming for something and the satisfaction of achieving it. They learn that doing things with a purpose is enjoyable.
Contact and conversation
Any shared activity stimulates talk, and games provide an opportunity to talk about and therefore reinforce what they are learning. An adult can also introduce new words and explain strategies. Playing games with a child enables the adult and child to spend quality time with each other.
Successful game strategies involve putting yourself in your opponent's shoes and predicting what they will do next. The player then needs to work out their own best strategy for winning.
Winning and losing
Winning shows the child which strategies worked. Losing shows them which ones did not. Either way, it is a learning experience.