Posts Tagged ‘Games’

The Skills Kids Can Learn from Traditional Board Games

January 5, 2014



Wall street Journal writer Laura Perez, lists some skills that family games has taught children over the years:

It has taught them to be good actors. My children have great poker faces. They will bluff you in cards and convince you their made-up dictionary definition is legitimate. They’ll pass you some pretty shabby cards in Hearts with a sweet smile.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I don’t want my kids to become amoral liars. But learning to beguile, to read others, to keep emotions in check, to negotiate skillfully—all these can be useful in life.

It has improved their vocabulary. You can’t win at word games if you don’t know lots of words. And they know a lot. Piebald, anyone? I knew I’d never win Scrabble again when my youngest cleared her tiles with “reevict.”

They have gained presentation skills and grace under fire. I have a few shy ones, but it’s pretty hard to be shy during our family battles. Whether it’s charades or Pictionary, they have to know their audience, think conceptually on their feet and not let a countdown paralyze them.

It has taught them to be great guessers. Being smart about guessing is crucial in so many of the games we play—such as Trivial Pursuit or Clue or Botticelli, which is like 20 Questions on steroids. True, mastery of 1980s pop-culture trivia may not be a college entrance requirement. But learning how to reduce the possible answers to two from four definitely helps. And I have the proof on some recent PSATs.

It has taught them critical thinking. “It really helps develop their brains,” John says. We both noticed 16-year-old Riley’s concentration and animation a few days ago across the chess board from her uncle. They’re aware of the concepts of strategy and planning and go through life now instinctively solving puzzles.

It has taught them patience and sportsmanship. They’re still willing to play games with me. And when I lose they’re so encouraging!

It has unleashed their imagination. Games like Think Fast or role-playing computer games require the kids to use their creative skills. Riley says she doesn’t get people who don’t play games. “It’s like when people say they don’t like to read. It’s like going on an adventure.”

Most important, it has taught them to not fear failure. Our kids haven’t cared about the odds against them. Their egos aren’t fragile. Games have taught them that they need to risk failing if they want to succeed. I’ve been blown away by how much the kids actually love losing. Isabella, 12, says it’s fun to fling yourself off a cliff and make a crazy chess move.

When she loses, she says, “we don’t care that much. We don’t throw a fit, we accept it and play again.”


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Turning School Children into ‘State Spies’

July 26, 2012

We used to preach to children to love one’s neighbour – now it’s turn-in your neighbour to the authorities!

School children are being encouraged by HM Revenue and Customs to tell their teachers if they know of anyone “in their local area” who is not paying their fair share of tax.

Critics said it was “un-British” of the HMRC to try to turn “children into state spies”.

HMRC has set up teaching modules to guide children through the hazards of pay as you earn and National Insurance contributions.

Some of the modules – which can be downloaded from HMRC’s website – teach school children as young as 11 about paying their fair share of tax.

The revenue uses video, games, facts and quizzes to “help make teaching financial capability and citizenship issues relevant and engaging”, according to its website.

Isn’t it great that we are teaching our children to be underhanded and sneaky instead of kind and supportive? It seems love goes out the window when money and greed is involved.

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Click on the link to read Schools Enlisting Debt Collectors to Make Parents Pay “Voluntary” Donations
Click on the link to read What’s More Important for Education – Smart Boards or Breakfast?

Kids and the Choking Game

April 16, 2012

A dull, dormant life can not be fully responsible for the rise of the infamous “choking game” played largely amongst kids, but it surely must be a contributing factor. The constrictive and restrictive nature of school, regulations, non-active lifestyles and anti-socialised extra-curricula activities must be factored into the increased popularity of this dangerous game.

Although the choking game is not new, very little research has been done to investigate how often it happens or which kids are more likely to try it. But the new study published today in the journal Pediatrics gives a snapshot of who is engaging in this risky activity.

Researchers surveyed nearly 5,400 Oregon eighth graders, and 6.1 percent reported playing the choking game at least once in their lives. Among those who had played, 64 percent had played more than once and 27 percent had done it more than five times. Boys and girls were equally likely to have participated.

The researchers found that kids who participated in the game commonly engaged in other risky health behaviors. About 16 percent of boys and 13 percent of girls who reported using alcohol, tobacco or marijuana on the health survey also reported playing the choking game. Girls who reported being sexually active were four times as likely to participate in the choking game as those who had never had sex.

Robert Nystrom, adolescent health manager at the Oregon Public Health Division and one of the study’s authors, said it’s significant that kids who play the choking game are also experimenting with alcohol, drugs and sex.

“Risk-taking is a part of normal adolescent development. The fact that a lot of adolescents are participating in these behaviors shouldn’t surprise us,” Nystrom said. “What we want to do is prevent it.”

Nystrom noted that the choking game is different from autoerotic asphyxiation, where the goal of near-strangulation is sexual gratification. In the choking game, kids simply seek the rush that comes from passing out.

Before adults become hysterical about this growing trend, I ask them to consider the life of a standard teenager and reflect on what we can do to help them appreciate the real thrills that life has to offer.

The New App that Gets Kids To Do Their Chores

October 29, 2011

Even the best parents and teachers struggle to get kids doing menial tasks on a consistent basis.  From making their beds to putting their lunchboxs back in their bag, it’s amazing how difficult it is to get children to be responsible for small yet important tasks.

That is, until an app was designed to assist desperate and exhausted parents:

You may find this shocking, but getting my 11- and 9-year-olds to do household chores is like pulling teeth. Rotten kids!

That may change now that I’ve got You Rules Chores on my iPhone. This clever new app turns household chores into a game, rewarding each kid a designated number of coins for each completed job. Whoever finishes the week’s chores first is the winner. (Of course, we all know who the real winners are: mom and dad.)

The app features cute graphics and music, and after a parent gets set up as the “referee,” each kid gets to choose an avatar (from only six available, alas).

Our Kids Must Be More Active

May 4, 2011

I am not that old, yet I know that my experiences growing up in many ways are worlds apart from the current experiences of our youth.  When I was growing up we used to regularly ride our bike, play sporting games outside and sign up for after-school swimming or gymnastics classes.

I’m afraid those days are long gone:

One in six children cannot swim,  a survey has revealed.

It also found one in ten had not learnt to ride a bicycle and  almost a quarter had never run 400 metres.

The study found British children were more than twice as likely to spend their free time watching television (79 per cent) than playing sport (34 per cent).

Children were also more likely to surf the internet (56 per cent), chat on social-networking websites (45 per cent) and play video games (43 per cent) than take part in sports.

The study of 1,500 children aged six to 15 reveals a generation turning its back on sport.

‘This is another sad reflection on children today,’ said Tam Fry of the Child Growth Foundation.

A study found British children were more than twice as likely to spend their free time watching television

‘We have a generation of children being fed the wrong food, which makes them fat, and fewer and fewer get the exercise they need to burn it off. It becomes a vicious cycle.

‘We need to teach children from a young age that they have to exercise and take part in sport to stay a healthy weight.’

He added that there are often not enough places for children to play and ride their bikes because there are so many cars on the road.

The survey, which reveals a generation turning their backs on sport, was described as ‘staggering’ by the head of the British Triathlon.

Even for those who could swim and ride bikes, just a third (34 per cent) had swum the length of a pool and half (46 per cent) had ridden their bikes in the past week.

In contrast, nearly three quarters (73 per cent) had found the time to play a video game in the past week.

A further 15 per cent of the children polled said they had never played sport with their parents.

The study was commissioned as part of a series of mini-triathlon events being held this summer by Tata Steel in areas including steel regions such as Scunthorpe, Corby, Teesside, Rotherham, Swansea and Shotton in North Wales.

A third of those questioned (33 per cent) said they did not own a bike, compared with three quarters (77 per cent) who owned a games console.

Remember when the fad at school would fluctuate between down ball, 4 square, hop scotch, hula hooping and elastics?  Most girls growing up now would never have associated elastic with a game.  I find this so sad.  The future ramifications of bringing up a generation of couch potatoes is quite frightening.

Be Careful How Much Power You Give Schools

February 14, 2011

Multiple choice time:

You have a 6-year old boy suffering from separation anxiety because his father, an Army commander, is leaving for Iraq.  The boy is found drawing zombies and writes underneath the drawings that he wants to die.

As a school administrator, do you:

a. Take the child aside and offer help, sympathy and a listening ear.

b. Call his mother to set up a plan for how to join forces and help the child during this tough period of his life.

c. Refer the situation to a counsellor or recommend that the mother take the child to a psychologist to get expert help.

d. Call an ambulance and get that child to a psychiatric ward, so he can be committed to a 72-hour psychiatric hold.

If you answered “d” you are probably from Los Angeles, the home of mystifying school decisions.

A mother has criticised school authorities for committing her six-year-old son to a psychiatric ward against her wishes because of a picture he drew in class.

Jack Dorman was pulled out of his elementary school classroom after he sketched a drawing of zombies and stick figures and wrote that he wanted to die.

But the boy’s furious mother, Syndi, said her son was simply upset that his soldier father was being deployed to Iraq.

She said the way Los Angeles school officials treated her son ’was right up there with my worst nightmare.’

Mrs Dorman added: ‘They said they were concerned about a picture he drew. I said he plays video games and it’s a picture from a video game.’

She claims Jack suffers from separation anxiety and was particularly upset on the day he drew the disturbing picture after learning his father, an Army commander, was leaving for Iraq on Thursday.

‘I explained to them what was happening, that my husband was being deployed to Iraq, that he was upset when he came to school today, that he wanted to be at home,’ she said.

‘I’m saying, “I will deal with it, that we have a therapist and that we’ll make sure he’s seen today”.’

‘They said it was out of my hands. They said they were in control and they could do this and had already called an ambulance.

‘I said, “Can you do this?” and they’re like, “Yeah”, Mrs Dorman said in an interview with NBC. ‘I’m just like, “What? Can I get a lawyer? How is this happening?”.’

Mrs Dorman said the ambulance ride was terrifying for her son, who was already seeing a therapist because he became anxious when he was separated from his family.

‘I was trying to reassure him that it would be okay and he asked if I’d come back for him and I said of course I am going to come back for you,’ added Mrs Dorman.

Jack was released after 48 hours, but his mother fears the ordeal has traumatised her son.

‘My son doesn’t want to go back to school. He’s afraid they are going to take him away again,’ she said.

In a statement, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines insisted his staff took the appropriate action.

‘We did the right thing here,’ he said. ‘I can unequivocally state that correct procedures and protocols were followed, including contacting the parents and accessing community resources such as the Los Angeles County Psychiatric Mobile Response Team.

‘When any student indicates a desire to take his or her own life, the LAUSD is required to follow strict protocols to ensure the safety of the student. The safety of LAUSD students is paramount,’ he added.

Where is the common sense in this story?  The boy is 6-years old!  A 6-year old boy with a father being sent off to war who threatens his life on the back of a drawing needs care and support from his school.  He needs the school to be sensitive and compassionate.  So what do they do to this poor kid?  They send him off to a psychiatric ward!  The person that was responsible for calling the ambulance is a more suitable candidate for the ward!  What were they thinking?

The unfortunate modern reality of living in a litigious world, in my opinion,  is that school’s care more about being sued than for the rights of the children.  It is for this reason, we need to be mindful that in all kinds of sensitive circumstances, school’s are likely to put their interests ahead of the child’s.  We must be careful how much power we give them.  This includes teacher’s being given authority to greatly influence the decision of a doctor in prescribing powerful medications to a child.

And it isn’t just the school that is to blame.  It’s the regulations which were instituted with one massive, gaping hole in it – the common sense clause. Even with the best of intentions, a law that ignores common sense, is a terrible law!

And notice the lack of apology.  No, they are still defending their decision!  Shame on you!

Time to change the law folks

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