In an age of electronic entertainment and plugged-in play, many classic childhood games are being pushed aside. However, these classic games provide key benefits for child development. In this series of posts, we will explore how these “unplugged” activities are more than just child’s play.
Marco Polo, Sharks and Minnows, Blob Tag, Freeze Tag or just plain old Tag, we’ve all played it. But did you realize the many benefits of this category of games? Children playing tag are receiving proprioceptive feedback from their muscles and joints as they run, as well as vestibular input from the movement and changing of direction. Sensory input that is controlled by the child is typically more readily processed than movement imposed by another person. Studies have shown that proprioceptive input causes the release of neurochemicals such as serotonin (involved in mood, sleep and appetite) and dopamine (involved in the sleep/wake cycle). Tag provides a natural motivation to challenge one’s endurance, an area in which many of our clients at the clinic demonstrate difficulty. Balance and coordination are required to make fast changes in direction and the visual system must fluidly track the movement of other players. Social reciprocity skills are also practiced as children take turns being “It”. Time to lace up those sneakers!