It’s that time again! Summer is winding down, and you and your children are getting ready for the new school year. Your children’s summer may have included play dates, camp, and maybe a family vacation. Regardless of the type of summer activities your children experienced, transitioning back to school requires a dramatic shift in interests, focus, routines, and schedules.
It’s also beneficial to help your child review previous academic skills and foster interest in learning new skills while maintaining the fun of summer. One simple way is to play a wide variety of games a few weeks before school starts. Board and card games provide a fun way to re-introduce structured interaction, higher level thinking, and academic skills.
There are many reasons that games are useful in this way.
- Games require children to follow specific rules, a necessity in school.
- Games provide structured play and interaction, which mimics the interaction at school with teachers and other students.
- Games build attention to the thinking and needs of others, as well as requiring conscious attention to one’s own thinking and problem solving, both skills which may have been underused over the summer.
- Familiar games allow children to review skills they learned previously, help build confidence for problem solving, and motivate their desire to learn new skills. It is good to start with these games.
- New games (at their age level or a little higher) can introduce new concepts and skills that will be addressed in the upcoming year.
Playing both old and new games lets parents observe their child to see what skills have been retained and which ones may have suffered during the “summer slide.” Parents don’t have to become a teacher to help their child refresh skills. They can help their kids relearn skills by playing games that are related to the weak areas. Game play is an enjoyable way to reintroduce or reinforce learning. Make time for a game a day!
Playing games does not mean eliminating other types of play for the rest of the summer. Children still need time for open, fluid play with their siblings and friends. This type of play holds great value for developing independence, leadership, creative thinking, and functional problem solving. Encourage all types of play and add in structured skill-based games to help the transition to school.
About the Author
Dr. Toni Linder is a leader in the field of early childhood development and early childhood special education. She works with children of diverse backgrounds and ability levels, including children that are gifted and talented, who have disabilities or come from backgrounds of poverty, and those from multicultural backgrounds.