The most important part of the day in a child’s life is play time. The game is a natural, instinctive activity which combines learning and satisfaction. Even as a baby, the child begins to learn to commit to people, to build trust and to understand basic emotions. In the first two years, a baby discovers its body and learn to control it (in the first months, coordination between eye and hand is developing). While playing, the child remembers and recognizes shapes, notices the differences between them.
Later, children play pretend games, role-play games, through which they develop language and relationships with other children, and prefer toys that resemble the objects used in everyday life-cooking equipment, tools, irons, dolls and action heroes. It’s the time when they enjoy active playing in nature, swings, slides and climbers. They are developing logic and memory, and you can play, with them games of memory, dominoes, matching pictures game...
By playing with toys, children analyze the way toys function, solve problems, focus on tasks and during that time experience a pleasant feeling of success, but also uncomfortable feeling of failure. Children acquire new skills, and their confidence grows.
As a way of life has changed, games have changed, as well.
In the past, children would play together in the street or in the yard. An important feature of these games was to outwit a participant in the game and win thanks to a quick intellectual and physical reactions, skill, dexterity and wit.
Computer technology has entered the world of children’s games and computer games have become the most important children’s games. In these games, a child just sit in front of the computer for several hours, play by himself/herself. Thus, the social, i.e. collective role of children's games has disappeared. The child is referred for antisocial way of life with all that it implies and causes.
Parents have a major role in the selection of children’s games. They need to tackle the challenges of passive modes of playing and encourage children to be more reflective and play social games.
Recently, I visited our friends who have a 5 year old son. They are wonderful young people, educated, with careers, friendly and dedicated to the education of their child.
Together, they created a game that has the same rules as the game of Ludo. The difference is that all players start from the same place, the road to house is much longer, and there is only one “home”.
The winner is the player who reaches the “home” first.
On the way a child has to pass a number of obstacles. When he lands on the square with the letter S, he draws a card with a Serbian word that should be read, the letter M means to draw a card with a mathematical task appropriate to the age of preschool children, the letter E is the word in the English language.
There are plenty of fields with pictures of animals, and a field with a picture of a rooster means that a player needs to crow, a picture of a pig means grunting, and so on ... There is a physical activity, some squares command players to do 15 sit-ups, 10 squats, 10 push-ups...
If somebody does not fulfill the task, he must return back.
My little friend and I played the game 2 times. On my way to “the home”, I had to calculate, cackle, and grunt etc, I did squats and crunches two times; luckily I missed the field with the pushups. Everyone had fun, especially when I was doing 15 sit-ups on the host’s living room floor, dressed in a casual suit, after the delicious and abundant dinner.
The game is really useful, because it contains both mental and physical activity. The child has a chance to develop his creativity already in the built phase of the board for the game, and now he is improving his knowledge and develops his skills while having fun.
I strongly recommend this game to adults, too, especially the part with physical activity.