Play Attention improves the cognitive skills that lay the foundation for strong Executive Functioning, but many of our clients would like to know other activities they can do outside of their Play Attention sessions to improve cognitive skills even more. In the coming weeks, we'll be giving specific examples of such activities divided into age category. This week, we're going to talk about school-age children:
Activity 2 for School-Age children: Classic Board Games
Areas developed: Various
Though perhaps not enjoying the widespread appeal they once did, board games used to be a staple of entertainment for many families... and for good reason! Classic board games combine fun with learning, while simultaneously strengthening family bonds through interaction. In today's Coach's Corner, I'd like to mention a few classic board games from my childhood that are still relevant today and help strengthen executive functioning.
- Monopoly: Perhaps the granddaddy of all board games, this classic improves counting, addition, subtraction, and the basics of working-memory-based problem solving. Obviously, the movement of the tokens and the buying and selling of property strengthen mathematics skills, but there is also the problem-solving aspect, which requires anticipation and abstract thinking:
'Do I spend what's left of my money on a hotel since my brother's car token is so close? Or do I wait until I've passed his properties, so I don't have to mortgage anything if I get hit?'
- Battleship: Another classic, this game is fantastic for improving Spatial Memory, which is a difficult skill for many children with ADHD. Does your child lose his or her backpack all the time? Do they constantly forget where they put things? Battleship is the game for you, as it facilitates keeping various pieces of geographic data in memory long enough to act on that information upon the player's next turn.
- Risk: Perhaps the most comprehensive game in terms of the sheer number of cognitive skills developed, Risk is outstanding at developing organizational and problem-solving skills. Numbers of troops, possible attacks from multiple directions, whether to push forward or draw back, how many resources to spend this turn versus next, outgoing expenditures versus incoming revenue... the management of so many factors employs a vast array of cognitive skills, from working memory to discriminatory processing to social skills. Yes, I said social skills! As with poker, a large part of the game of Risk involves interacting with your fellow player to ascertain what they intend to do. Being able to read facial expressions and body language is vital to a better understanding of your peer’s intent.
'Do they really want to be allies? Or will they break our truce as soon as I spread my troops too thin?'
These are three of my favorites, but I'd like to mention a couple more oldies but goodies, and the cognitive skills they develop.
Simon: the classic electronic sequencing game for Short Term Memory.
Operation: also, an electronic game which develops both Motor Skills and Hand-Eye Coordination.
Perhaps the best part about these board games is that they give parents an excellent vehicle with which to engage the entire family in a fun activity that is not hyper-stimulating. Next weekend, instead of taking the family out to Chuck-E-Cheese or an animated film with rapid fire action, dust off one of those board games in the closet and give it a try. You might find your child gets more than just family fun in the bargain.