There are certain things that kids like to do. These childish activities are not without merit, though. Although we all want our children to be well-balanced, there are valuable skills to learn from nearly every past time. Unfortunately, not all activities are equal. Thus, sitting on the couch watching TV does nothing for a child, or does it?
Childish Activities – Sports
There is a reason schools have a PE requirement along with regular recess periods. Even simple games like tag or hide-and-seek have their benefits. There are the well-documented benefits from physical action, but that is not where it ends. The games and sports played by kids develop a broad range of life skills. These skills include the obvious teamwork skills as well as negotiating, quick thinking, strategic and tactical planning. Physical activities can improve mental skills. Likewise, smart players make better athletes.
Childish Activities – Video Games
Video games cover a broad range of options. There are sports games, shooters, role-playing, puzzle, and many other categories. Each of these has different skills it promotes. After seeing the strengths and weaknesses of my children (all are avid gamers), I think there are some benefits of games that are often overlooked.
There are the readily apparent eye-hand coordination skills that come from “shooter” and high action games. However, tactical thinking and puzzle solving skills are a part of many of them as well. Even games that are mostly comprised of button mashing to send a flurry of attacks at enemies will throw in “boss” monsters that require specific skills or tactics. These problem-solving skills do translate outside of the “kill-em-all” environments.
One of the more surprising side effects I have seen with games is an increase in vocabulary and sophisticated skills like chemistry and even electrical engineering. Kid-favorite games like Minecraft include “crafting” that at times includes enough real-world attributes that it makes building a circuit board or chemical compound familiar. The language used in games that have fantasy and science fiction as a basis can often expand everyday vocabulary. This
The terms used in fantasy and science fiction games can often expand vocabulary. Thus, words like “tiara” and “supernova” have a meaning to kids that might otherwise never hear them. The closed caption option for many games also can expose the written form of words to them while they hear it spoken aloud. This feature is a great way for children to see phrases like hors d’oeuvres on the screen while hearing the enunciation. If nothing else, it is ideal for improving ACT/SAT scores.
Childish Activities – Playing With Toys
I could spend all day reviewing toys. The options for learning are almost endless. There is even an entire industry focused on educational toys. However, I think that commonly toys like Lincoln Logs and Legos should not be underestimated. These toys can teach essential skills to even the youngest children.
These toys are excellent for learning. While they teach following directions (for building a house or boat), they also provide the ability to make adjustments. Thus, a child can learn that following instructions is useful. However, the road less traveled can work as well. Adding an artistic and creative aspect to rigid rules is a vital part of ingenuity. While more creative options like play-doh are great, the building block ones have more general usage.
So, the next time you worry about your child spending too much time on their favorite activity, breathe easy. They are developing skills, not just wasting time. You just have to look on the bright side.