Setting up for Success through Playground Games

Guest Authored by Katie Massey, PT, DPT

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” This is a common question asked of children when they are young. Answers can vary from a teacher to a doctor to a firefighter to a superhero and so on. The list is never-ending! Children have such great imaginations and hopes for the future! At Blue Bird Day, we hope to provide each child with the tools they will need to be successful wherever their path may lead.  

Blue Bird Day incorporates playground games within the curriculum to help children learn important skills for being successful as they grow. Playground games including duck duck goose, ring around the rosy, red light/green light, hide and seek, and red rover are some examples. By engaging children in these games, the therapists at Blue Bird Day are helping set each child up with the important skills of peer interaction, direction following, and turn-taking. For each game to be successful, children must wait for their turn, listen and follow the directions, and interact with their peers. All the games mentioned incorporate peer interactions as a major component, whether it be holding hands, tapping a peer on the head, or hiding/seeking a peer out. Each game also has a set of directions the children must follow in order to play, as well as waiting patiently for their turn to be the goose during duck duck goose, to hide during hide and seek, or to run across the room during red rover.  

The therapists also rely the child’s imagination within these games. A child’s imagination can help to alter the games played, such as turning duck duck goose into a game with other animals (I.e. dog dog cat). By encouraging use of a child’s imagination, they are learning to be flexible within what they were initially taught. Learning flexibility within a structured game is helpful in aiding flexibility in other aspects of a child’s life, including transitions, daily routines, etc.   

All the skills utilized and learned from playground games can help lead to success as a child grows. In school, a child will need to sit when in class and listen to/follow directions from a teacher, take turns with peers at recess or in gym class when engaging in play, and be engaged with peers throughout the day. A child may want to join a sports team in which they will also need to interact with peers and follow directions of the coach. These skills continue to be important and can be built upon throughout a child’s life, from elementary school to high school to becoming the teacher/doctor/firefighter/superhero/etc. that they have always dreamed of becoming!