Of play, talking to yourself, and self-regulation

by Bernard De Koven on February 28, 2008

Play and self-regulation? Play, the apotheosis of abandonment, spontaneity and general mucking about…and self-regulation?

Well, maybe not play, so much. But games. Games, for sure. Like, for example, Simon Says. Here’s what Alix Speigel says in her article Old Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills

“Simon Says is a game that requires children to inhibit themselves. You have to think and not do something, which helps to build self-regulation.”

And this about reading stories with preschoolers from researcher Laura Berk:

“Reading storybooks with preschoolers promotes self-regulation, not just because it fosters language development, but because children’s stories are filled with characters who model effective self-regulatory strategies.”

And the there’s even talking to yourself. “Permitting and encouraging children to be verbally active,” writes Speigel, “to speak to themselves while engaged in challenging tasks — fosters concentration, effort, problem-solving, and task success.”

“In fact,” says “executive function researcher” Laura Berk, “if we compare preschoolers’ activities and the amount of private speech that occurs across them, we find that this self-regulating language is highest during make-believe play. And this type of self-regulating language… has been shown in many studies to be predictive of executive functions.”

Speigel continues: “It turns out that all that time spent playing make-believe actually helped children develop a critical cognitive skill called executive function. Executive function has a number of different elements, but a central one is the ability to self-regulate. Kids with good self-regulation are able to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline…We know that children’s capacity for self-regulation has diminished…Poor executive function is associated with high dropout rates, drug use and crime. In fact, good executive function is a better predictor of success in school than a child’s IQ. Children who are able to manage their feelings and pay attention are better able to learn.”

If we’d only let them play…. If we only believed in fun….

via Steve Cooperman

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


A Playful Path photoA playful path is the shortest road to happiness.
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