Parents often frown at the mention of kids’ parties since it usually involves a lot of noise, running around, unpredictable chaos and quite a tangible mess to clean up after it’s all done. However, there are ways we can use parties to actually work both for us and the kids.
There are three main areas in children’s cognitive development and these are attention, memory and thinking. The good news is that although some genetic factors are involved in the development, most of these skills are learned, which means they can be improved with practice and training.
If we make a carefully thought out plan about the activities and their impact on the kids, we will not only save ourselves from unwanted chaos, but we will have the kids immersed into learning new things and developing their little minds without them even noticing it. That is the greatest trick of all teaching – disguise it with fun! Here is how you can make it work.
Attention is the ability to focus and concentrate on one task for a certain period of time and this skill is needed for all future learning that awaits any kid. If you have kids under the age of 5, their attention span will be under 15 minutes so you need to prepare a lot of short but fast paced activities to keep their attention.
That means playing one game for the entire length of the party just won’t do and you have to come up with various interesting things. They usually benefit from any help adults can provide, so if you are taking them out to an aquarium or a zoo, for example, you can point out important and interesting things and ask them a lot of questions like “Which animal do you like the most? Why? What do you like about them? What did you like best about them?” and so on. This will help them pay attention to details and use specific language. Children over 8 are able to focus for longer periods of time and even complete tasks, so you can arrange a game like a scavenger hunt for example.
Memory helps kids build a base of knowledge from their experiences, thoughts, and observations. They will base and modify their future behaviors on this acquired knowledge. Children under 5 have difficulty with long-term memory so you should focus on short term memory games and activities, and not expect much from them when it comes to remembering game rules and results. Which means you can take them to the same parties and their favorite places since they will forget the majority of things about it and will experience the same amount of fun and pleasure as any previous time. Simply put, they won’t get bored with it. It is a different case with older kids since they can build up on previous experience and knowledge so you are well advised not to repeat your party themes and take them to the same places.
A great way to help kids memorize things is to provide memory games, quizzes, to have nursery rhymes and catchy sayings with educational content, like a song to teach them months in the year, or the sounds animals make for example. Putting music to any content helps kids memorize stuff easier and organize it better, and they are likely to remember it for good. So, it is no wonder children remember party songs and musical games much more easily than their homework! Use it to your advantage.
It is important to know that kids actually love new stimuli and gaining new knowledge, they simply need variety and a faster pace than we adults do. Having different kinds of games will keep them immersed: board games, songs, and music, physically engaging games like musical chairs, jump rope and hula hoop, arts and crafts, scavenger hunt and quizzes, professional entertainers and so on. Get creative with your party planning and don’t be surprised if you want to join in!
What is your favorite party game?