For 7 to 12 year-olds, child development experts define types of play as physical, social, constructive, fantasy, and what’s called “games with rules.” The games with rules category includes all kinds of activities, such as playground pastimes like freeze tag or red light, green light. It also includes checkers, cards and a variety of board games. Games with rules range from games that children direct themselves, as well as organized activities like robotics or basketball.
The next time your child is playing, take a moment to observe the depth of what is developing. Games with rules provide a landscape of learning how and when to take turns, the procedure of each activity’s beginning and end, and penalties for breaking set rules. It makes for a microcosm of the world at large, in how we learn to live with an understanding of societal norms and rules that keep society functioning.
The famous saying “play is the work of the child” is particularly meaningful. It really is more than just fun and games!
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Karen Swanger is the Director of OSU KidSpirit Oregon 4-H Youth Programs kidspirit.oregonstate.edu