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But if I do this, then you’ll do this other thing, and then this will be the result….” Use this technique to help your child consider what might happen beyond the move they are making now, to plan ahead, and create new strategies for successful game playing.Because planning for outcomes is a huge part of thinking critically and solving problems!
The mathematical ideas I’m talking about are more general than that: they involve .
Math is about numbers, sure, but it’s also about thinking, and reasoning, and planning ahead.
As adults, when we think through a complex issue that requires us to take action, we not only consider the possible outcomes in the short term, but also the long term. So, if everyone agrees to a little rule-bending, then why not?
Kids are often short-term thinkers, but we need to teach them that the long view can be quite valuable, and “playing the long game”, with patience and thoughtfulness, is a skill that needs to be carefully nurtured. In a previous blog, we talked about how games teach us how to follow the rules, for the sake of fairness, and having a game that is actually playable. (In our experience, every family has their own “house rules” for Monopoly, and lots of other games too!
Teaching children to look ahead in a game, where there are no stakes beyond winning and losing, gives them a chance to practice an important life-skill: seeing how something might matter to us in the future can be just as important as how it affects us in the here and now. ) Every now and then, revise the game; it’s totally okay to do, and it teaches your kids to analyze and adjust to a new and interesting situation.
You can change the rules a little, or a lot, or, if you are feeling crazy, you can let your opponent suggest a rule change!In these situations, it’s useful to say why you made that move.And when one of your kids makes an unexpected move, ask them to talk about why they made that decision.Talking to your kids about why they’re doing what they’re doing is valuable for many reasons.This kind of discussion helps kids to uncover the many different purposes for the many different kinds of decisions that get made in a game, where they begin to understand that there are often far more possibilities than they might have otherwise found on their own.Children can enjoy racing games, logic games, puzzle games, and even games based on activities they enjoy every day.The games also cover a variety of concepts and skills, ranging from basic addition and subtraction skills to solving complex equations and graphing.And, since most games, inherently, are about winning, they create a safe space to learn to strategize, think critically, and solve problems in a fairly natural way.When you are motivated by wanting to do well, then you are motivated to try to figure out the best next step, to try to outmaneuver your opponent, to spend resources wisely, and approach the game strategically.Sometimes, when you make a move in a game, it’s totally expected - it’s what every other player would have done in the same situation.Other times, you make a decision to do something different, maybe unexpected, because you think it will pay off in the end.