Threes and fours love playing almost anything—from a simple board game to a complex make-believe session. This natural affinity for games provides an easy opportunity for this age group to practice interacting socially, an important part of which is sharing materials and taking turns. In addition, winning and losing helps them learn how to handle disappointment and how things look from another’s point of view.
Games offer a whole host of benefits. Matching and analyzing colors and pictures provide valuable experience in practicing cognitive and visual discrimination skills, for instance. Math talents get a workout when your child counts spaces on a board or identifies the number of dots on a rolled die. Candyland and Chutes and Ladders are especially great for this.
Threes are still developing their fine motor skills, so they devote their attention to turning over cards, moving playing pieces, or picking up dice. This strengthens their finger muscles for holding a pencil later when they learn to write.The older your child, the more likely she’ll be to cooperate and emphasize group participation. Fours like to decide the rules together, assign roles, and discuss the goals. Some like to become involved with team sports, such as soccer or T-ball, in which they hone their kicking, running, catching, and hitting skills.
At this age, kids should be encouraged to engage in a variety of games, both established and of their own invention. They learn and grow with play—it stimulates their creativity, provides fun exercise, and helps strengthen relationships with peers. Join them in their play as often as possible—it’s a super way to bond, and it’s great exercise for your imagination and body, too!