Give to the KCDC

Social Games!

There are many categories of games that can happen in an early childhood setting.  There are board games, card games, academic games, and large motor games to name just a few.  Our kids this year have actively sought out and enjoyed what I sometimes call “social games.”  These are games that foster relationships between adults and children as well as among the children.  One of the foundational elements to learning, after a sense of safety, is a sense of belonging.  Games help grow and develop that sense of belonging.

A few months ago we had taco salad for lunch.  In the transition between lunch and rest time, when the kids need to go to the bathroom, find books to look at, and play, I was trying to inhale my lunch while orchestrating the transition.  At some point we began playing “Taco Monster,” a game that was created in the spur of the moment.  I became the Taco Monster, chasing the kids amongst peals of laughter and excitement.  I pretended to try to eat them as I searched for cheese, guacamole, salsa, chips, and hamburger.  One child’s favorite color was green so he called “I’ll be the guacamole!” and we continued until lights out.

 

The interesting thing is that Taco Monster became a much requested game (we played it just today).  The game offers experiences of suspense as I chase them around, relationship building with the adult as I joke with them and let them escape or outsmart me, and friendship development as they save each other and share space in hiding spots or bases.  It also capitalizes on that ever present resource kids have in abundance: energy!  It gets them moving and affirms the value of meaningful movement.

 

There are a myriad of variations on the chase game and on hide-and-seek games.  We play games like the Belly Button Snatcher, Monster Momma, Runaway Chickens, and Old Mother Cat.  When I have moments of feeling like I am not connected enough to the kids, these games help us reconnect.  I think the kids request them for the same reason, to connect, to develop relationship, to belong (although they can’t verbalize it as such).

 

If we, as adults, listen to what they request and respond with presence (and energy – we can all use a bit more exercise anyway, couldn’t we?), we can foster that sense of belonging that is so foundational to everything else.  And each of our children will be different in what they need.  Some will request cuddling with a book, others wrestling on the living room floor; still others need a little kitchen science to re-connect.  One challenging aspect is if what they want and what comes naturally to us as parents isn’t the same activity.  It’s one of the balancing acts of parenthood – to help our children become who they are while sharing ourselves with them. ..

 

And is it possible to be completely present at every moment?  Of course not.  As much as I wish otherwise, I am only human.   However, we do remember to have an attitude of play and playfulness as we help form these wonderful and brilliant young children…

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