June 20, 2024


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Using Board Games To Help Highly Distractible Kids Improve Their Concentration and Stay On Task

Ever wondered why there are so many more kids with attention deficit issues today than there were 10, 20 years ago? One of the reasons is today’s children aren’t given enough opportunities to practice paying attention. Remember playing old school board games like: Monopoly, Trouble, Sorry or even Candyland where you had to take the time to read the directions, distribute the playing pieces, learn to wait your turn, control impulses and you had to sit on the floor or at the table and pay attention while waiting. You also learned to build frustration tolerance when you lost a turn and you learned to organize your thoughts in order to anticipate the other player’s move. These are very important social skills that are transferable skills in just about every facet of life.

However, with the advent of high tech games, iTunes and the Wii, many kids are so media-fed that if their attention isn’t captured instantaneously, within the first few minutes they have a tendency to tune out. Technological advancement is a good thing, but like anything, everything has its place. And when it comes to our children high-tech items should be utilized in moderation.

Here are some board games that I am utilizing in my homeschool program with my son that you might find helpful if you are raising and, or educating a highly-distractible child.

1. The Memory Game by Milton Bradley: This simple game helps increase concentration skills and memory. Players are required to match their cards with others that are turned face down. If your child turns a card face up and it doesn’t match your card, you child has to put the card back face down. The challenge for your child is to remember the cards that have been put back down, so he/she can pair them with your cards when matches come up. Whoever gets the most matches wins.

2. Checkers: Checkers works well for highly-distractible children. The game is relatively simple, yet it calls upon one’s decision making skills, impulse control skills and focus. The challenge is to get your men from your end of the board to your opponent’s end. What children learn over time is that if they pay attention and think ahead about where they want to go while anticipating the roadblocks, they will eventually get their men to the other side.

3. Simon Says: Although not a board game Simon Says is the ultimate follow directions and pay attention game. One person is Simon and the rest of the children stand in a line facing Simon. Then ‘Simon’ calls out instructions like this, “Simon says Shake your head.” Everyone else has to shake their head. If the ‘Simon’ calls out an instruction without saying “Simon says” then everyone should ignore the instruction. If you don’t follow a Simon says instruction you are out. If you do follow an instruction that doesn’t have Simon says on it you are also out. Additionally it allows children to move their bodies.

4. Mother May I: Although not a board game either, this popular playground game helps kids learn to ask permission, control impulses and follow directions. In this game one person is chosen to be “Mother”. You can use the term “Father” as well. Everyone else must stand in a line facing the person a short distance away. The purpose of the game is for players to get close enough to touch Mother. But players can only move following the instructions given by Mother. If you forget to say “Mother May I?” or don’t follow the directions as instructed by Mother you have to go back to the start. The first one to reach Mother becomes the next Mother.