Were you proficient at Simon Says? Did you struggle initially at Red Light, Green Light? How about clapping games? Little did I know, according to an excellent piece in The New York Times Magazine by Tara Parker-Pope entitled: “Simon Says Don’t Use Flash Cards, “… that playing certain kinds of childhood games may be the best way to increase a child’s ability to do well in school. Variations on games like Freeze Tag and Simon Says… [test] a child’s ability to pay attention, remember rules and exhibit self-control — qualities that also predict academic success.”
The article points to research showing that children who are good at Simon Says tend to “…like games do better in math and reading.” Another points to an Oregon State study that finds that the “…a
Though I always like to see games recognized as a major factor in brain development, I am a bit concerned that we not focus too much on the pragmatic function of play. We don’t want to have parents worriedly watching their children play tag or hiring a Simon Says coach. Kids have enough pressure.
The true wonder of games like these is that they are ancient gifts passed down from ancestors long forgotten in the mists of time. Yes, children hundreds and maybe thousands of years ago developed these games not because they were educational but because they were fun…and maybe they started the Renaissance…who knows?