Games offer so many skill opportunities in specific areas such as communication for starters. They provide a chance to interact with others, negotiate rules, introduce new vocabulary and how to correct and challenge others. Players learn how to take turns, stay focused and problem solve. Emotional consequences can be developed around handling loss, helping another player accept losing and being a gracious winner. Games also help build confidence and cooperation. Plus there are opportunities for developing gross and fine motor movements, as well as literacy and numeracy skills. Games also improve attention and concentration and rewards are delayed, setting up a child for adult life.
Literacy, Numeracy, Fine Motor Skills and More …
Some game parts are quite intricate requiring learners to throw a dice with control (and not repeatedly send it bouncing off a table), move small items around a games board, or manage a handful of cards. Often counting is involved in card or board games too. These skills are relatively complex and over time young children benefit from learning how to successfully play games from a social perspective as well as the educational value around literacy and numeracy.
Older students and adults enjoy the competitive elements that games offer. Plenty of games are used as part of a speech language programme. There must also be a fun element to it, especially with toddlers. A kindergartener will have a lot of fun with fine motor activities like tracing numbers worksheets but a two year old might need more social activities.
Hands Used as Talking Tools
Your hands go everywhere with you. Why not use them as talking tools? Fingers can be used to monitor how much information you give to children and your thumb to monitor how many questions adults ask of children. For young children learning language, they need to hear many words to develop understanding (receptive language) first, moving on to talking themselves (expressive language) at a later date.
Research clearly shows that parents, caregivers and others who inform children, talk with them and read stories to them help develop their early language at a faster rate than those who don’t. By ‘feeding in’ language first, then asking questions later, children have the opportunity to process what they hear and see, before making a response.
In Case a Child has Delayed Speech
A young child listens to the everyday language in its environment to understand those interacting around them. This is called receptive language. As they grow older, they experiment with sounds leading into forming words, then sentences (expressive language). Games and mimicking develops speech in children but if you feel that a child has delayed speech, it is important to take proactive measures as soon as possible and help him or her through specialized speech therapy for children. Some of the clear signs that you need specialized assistance is if your child
- has difficulties acquiring sounds for speech development (articulation)
- has difficulties acquiring language patterns for communication
- struggles with fluency
- finds eating and swallowing difficult
Oral Language Competency
Oral language competency, underpins so many outcomes. A child progresses most markedly through acquiring oral language by age five. The most significant leap occurs around three years old, when children scramble to use their fast growing vocabulary to express themselves. At this time, there may be some fluency problems as children put language together. There are plenty of games that can be played to further oral language competencies both at home and in groups in preschools or kindergartens such as Don’t Say It (giving clues to an object without saying it).
Oral Language Competency & Youth Offenders
One interesting factor emerging from current research, shows that many youth offenders have clinically significant but previously undetected oral language competency difficulties. Given that our legal system is built on being able to “tell your story” it is hardly surprising, that youth offenders find the court system an enormous challenge.
Speech and language development is crucial for kids and it should always be a priority to foster it from a very young age.