Playing baby and childhood games may be the best way to increase a child’s success in school. Who says so? Simon says!
And so does Tara Parker-Pope in Simon Says Don’t use Flashcards. She reports on a growing body of research that suggests playing games with variations increases a child’s ability to pay attention, remember rules, and show self-control.
“Play is one of the most cognitively stimulating things a child can do,” says Megan McClelland, an early childhood development researcher at Oregon State University. In one study with preschoolers, McClelland used the copy cat game, Simon Says, and added a variation:
Simon says clap your hands.
(Child claps hands)
Simon says touch your toes.
(Child touches toes)
Pat your head.
(Child stands still. Simon didn’t say.)
Here’s the challenging version of “Simon Says” for preschoolers. Children are expected to do the opposite of what Simon says.
Simon says reach up high.
(Child reaches low)
Simon says hop up and down fast.
(Child hops up and down slowly)
Balance on one foot.
(Child stands still. Simon didn’t say)
McClelland’s game variation required a high level of cognitive function for preschoolers, including focus and attention.
Multiple studies at Oregon State show that children who develop focus and self-control early in life (executive-function skills) have better academic achievement in the long run.
Simon says so.