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Why Play Boardgames in Therapy?!?

We sometimes get asked (or see some puzzled looks!), why occupational therapists use games when working with children?

Essentially game play is used in a therapy session as a therapeutic tool to achieve specific developmental, physical, cognitive, and social goals.

Here are some key reasons why playing games is an effective part of therapy for children:

1. It's FUN (and engaging)

It is challenging for anyone to to learn anything when they're bored because they are less engaged and their brain isn't working as efficiently. Think about late night cram sessions alone, or when a presenter essentially 'reads off the slides' - you're far more likely to forget a lot of what was covered, compared to making quizzes for a friend, or a presenter who gives some amazing personal examples. Children often learn best through play, which is a natural and enjoyable way for them to explore and master new skills.

2. It's working on skill development

  •  Fine Motor Skills: Games that involve picking up small objects, manipulating pieces, or using tools help improve hand-eye coordination and dexterity.

  • Gross Motor Skills: Activities that require running, jumping, or balancing improve overall body coordination and strength (TIP: We OTs often add in a gross motor component to game play with your child, rather than simply sitting at a table, to work on more goals at the same time!)

  • Cognitive Skills: Puzzles, memory games, and strategy-based games enhance problem-solving abilities, memory, attention span, and planning skills.

3. Sensory Processing skill development

Games that involve different textures, sounds, and movements help children who have sensory processing issues learn to respond appropriately to sensory inputs.

4. Social and emotional development

  • Regulation: Activities can be used to either calm or stimulate children, helping them learn to regulate their arousal levels and emotions.

  • Social Interaction: Group games encourage sharing, turn-taking, and collaboration, helping children develop social skills.

  • Emotional Expression: Play allows children to express their feelings and cope with emotions in a safe environment.

  • Confidence Building: Successfully completing a game or mastering a new skill boosts a child’s self-esteem and confidence.

We hope this series helps you understand how the use of certain resources in occupational therapy!

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