Sunday, May 4, 2008

Playing games and winning in life (or school and testing)

A recent study found that improving memory, through using an evolved version of the child's game Concentration, was able to improve intelligence in adults. The experimental groups, who practiced these games daily for different periods of time, had significant gains on fluid intelligence tests. Fluid intelligence refers to a person's ability to solve new problems without background information or experience.

Okay, so that's great for adults and all. Intelligence, something once thought to be inherent, can be molded. Why not start young? Ever wonder why some kids, often those who also excel in class, loved playing memory games? Memory games, pattern recognition games, chess, and even card games that involve logical thinking all build a certain processing of thought in developing children. Much in the same way the adults were able to do well on new tasks or problems, children who play such games will be able to use their logical reasoning, awareness of placement and ideas, and general thirst for completion in order to tackle new concepts. There increased ability in this logical reason aids them when factual information falters, and it certainly aids them in standardized tests.

One of the first things many children learn during test prep, or so it seems to me, is how to eliminate answers. Which answers logically do not answer the question. A lot of test prep is teaching children this logical thought process, and teaching them patience. Children's games, which the child playing usually wants to win, can instill patience in children that others do not have. In order to win they must slow down, think, and reason.

I'm not advocating replacing school or test prep with a memory game or a chess club, but as adjunct methods of training they might do well. Games are fun, why not let children have fun while building their fluid intelligence.

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