Tools and tips for engaging with children and young people.
Jenga – purposeful play
I am a big fan of games; it is a great way of engaging and socialising with a range people. They are a good communication tool. Jenga is one of my favourite therapeutic tool and I decided to write briefly about why I love using Jenga.
It aids conversations. I used the ones with the coloured blocks and the colours can represent different themes, depending on what I am working on. For example, red can represent anger or passions, as you pull out a red one tell me something you are passionate about.
It teaches turn taking for little ones. I work with a range of children from 4 years to teenagers and for the little ones this is a really simple turn taking game. A lot of little ones like my 4 year old find turn taking (and sharing hard) so I use the opportunity to make turn taking fun buy filling the waiting time with lots of positives and questions.
It’s works on motor skills for little ones. Mastering gross and fine motor skills help children gain strength and confidence in their body. Developing these skills is a good foundation for acquiring more complex skills later in life. Relax kids sessions recognise and promote the role the body plays on the mind and vice versa so we are always incorporating brain training exercises in our sessions which also work on fine and gross motor skills.
It’s a gentle way of working on ‘competition’. Now competition and competitiveness is a whole other topic for another blog. Some people are of the school of thought that we should eliminate competition for children(not me) i.e. sports days with no winners! Whilst others believe in the importance of nurturing that competitive spirit in their child. I say whether we eliminate it or not, competition exists in all of us, our children included. So it is about teaching and exploring healthy competition. In the micro moments that the Jenga bricks tumble, I am watching and observing the child I am working with. I comment on what I observe and it becomes a good starting base to explore competition. Some children don’t want to play again if they are the ones that make the bricks tumble, some insist on playing again and don’t play again if I am the one that makes the bricks tumble. Such rich material for exploration!
And that is why I enjoy using Jenga in my sessions, that and it’s just fun!