Baby Games Make Learning Fun
Pop Quiz: What gets sharper the more you use it?
Answer: Your brain.
Games are not only enjoyable, they are also important tools to help babies and older children learn. Games develop language skills, creativity, and problem-solving abilities. Some also sharpen fine motor skills. And whether you’re cheering on your baby as he completes his first puzzle or doing silly dances during family game night, you’ll find yourself loving the action too. Here’s how children of all ages benefit from gameplay.
Infants learn by observing and interacting with the world around them. Around their first birthday, shape sorters and big-knob puzzles help engage your child’s rapidly developing (and curious) mind. Figuring out which pieces go where will be a challenge at first, but know that every trial and error is helping your child develop her sense of spatial recognition. To add to the fun, here’s a tip for puzzle boards: Cut out family photos to match the shapes of the pieces, and glue them in the cutouts on the board. The surprise of revealing the faces of mom, dad, grandparents, and siblings will be added enjoyment and help your child’s sense of facial recognition.
The toddler’s mantra is “I can do it myself!” Embrace her independence with games like skills boards (which help kids hone skills such as buckling, buttoning, or tying) and building and balance games like Zimbbos Elephantastic Pyramids. You’ll also find games that will help your child learn to recognize colors, letters, and numbers. It may be tempting, but resist the urge to complete a task for your toddler. Instead, offer hints—that will help her achieve the goal independently and learn how to work past her frustrations.
There’s a reason why there’s a board game called The Game of Life —the lessons learned playing even the simplest game will come up again and again as your child gets older. Taking turns, thinking ahead, making tough choices, and not getting too upset when things don’t go your way are vital skills that we all must master. There are games for every skill level and imaginable interest, including ones that feature popular characters. Consider starting with games that you like to play too. There are younger editions of classic games, such as Monopoly Junior, Scrabble Junior, and Trivial Pursuit Family Edition. This is a great way to bond with your child with a game you know without having to modify it for age level.