Imagine the world of childhood without play is almost impossible. The first physical interactions with the baby are impregnated with playful spirit: the tickling, the swinging. Those parenting games are the first interactions that the baby has with its family in which it learns how to relate to his loved ones and the environment.
The game is a free and spontaneous activity, not imposed or directed from outside, that the child performs with enthusiasm, so it is used as a pedagogical strategy in the initial levels. Children play and learn by acting, exploring their environment, developing their creativity, communicating and establishing links with others. Through these games children are developing. Just as children should move their bodies, it is also important that they exercise their mind. That’s why mental games become a perfect activity to share with them, anywhere, anytime.
The neuropsychologist at the Roosevelt Children’s Orthopedic Institute, Andrea Narváez Noguera, states that: a child’s brain is in the process of development, therefore, it requires constant stimulation of the environment to obtain cognitive processes of a higher order, such as attention, language, memory, motor skills and executive functions involved in logic, reasoning, problem solving and planning.
Among the main benefits of mental games is cognitive development, the development of brain activity, through the increase of neuronal connections, improving mood, control of emotions, physical and emotional balance, cognitive and physical development.
Mental games require practice to increase their effectiveness, allowing to consolidate a better learning. In addition they have a playful component, motivate and entertain the child, while at the same time promote a satisfactory cognitive, social and emotional development. They also help to develop a high capacity for problem solving, instructional follow-up, planning, self-monitoring, impulse regulation, higher levels of attention, concentration and memory.
Moreover, they favor the acquisition of concepts and classifications; that is, how to make groups or find common characteristics among objects, understand causes and consequences of actions. Games develop problem solving skills because making decisions involves making mistakes, changing their actions and planning their behavior to find more effective solutions. Therefore, they can also allow the child to have better academic results, thanks to the cognitive exercises that involve these games.
Play is one of the guiding activities of childhood, along with art, literature and exploration of the environment. Since these are activities that support the pedagogical action in initial education and enhance the integral development of girls and boys, they must also be present in joint actions with the family through the incorporation of their playful tradition, represented in games. By giving a place to play in early education, girls and boys are given full prominence, since they can make decisions, reach agreements, show their abilities, solve problems and, ultimately, participate in a leading role in their educational process.