Intervention with Games for Children

Project Representative
Ms. Ana Lucia Petty & Prof. Maria Thereza C. de Souza
Creation Date: 1991
Geographical Reach: Global
Nature and number of beneficiaries: Children aged from 7 to 11 years. 1000 beneficiaries.
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Intervention with Games for Children

About the Project

The intervention program held at the Laboratory of Development and Learning Studies of the University of São Paulo aims to help the participants acknowledge what is necessary to change. When there is professional intervention during children's play, they are led to find out the importance of thinking before acting, which favors self-organization. 

The theoretical framework is based on Piaget's concepts about self-regulation process  and the grasp of consciousness (1975;1978) as well as empirical studies about the use of games and psychological development (De Souza & all., 2014), in particular the ones related to executive functions (Cypel, 2007; Diamond, 2013).

In practice, groups of 10 children aged from 7 to 11 play games with intervention for one hour every week. It takes about three semesters for them to complete a cycle that includes the sequence from games, intervention to more games. These three semesters are needed to consolidate the internal changes.

Context and Issue

For the last 25 years, researchers from the Laboratory of Development and Learning Studies (Institute of Psychology, University of Sao Paulo) have been studying children with learning difficulties. They create situations in which children play games with rules, solve problems and interact with peers. Children are interested in activities that involve games. They become more self-conscious and autonomous when there is an adult around.

In the first semester, children learn how to play and enjoy the moment. Meanwhile, professionals observe, clarify doubts about the rules or procedures, and challenge them to explain their actions aimed at developing better strategies. Four aspects are taken into consideration: motor and space organization, emotional reactions, cognitive development and social relations. There are many questions to keep in mind, such as, how does the child react to challenges? What competences does he/she show? Are the rules being followed? Is there respect and consideration for others?

The second semester of the program involves different interventions. In problem-solving situations, children become more conscious of the actions and proceedings that were favorable or unfavorable in games. Children are challenged to use all their resources and skills and to build up new competences. They also learn to exchange experiences with peers.

During the third semester, professionals need to identify if the child is prepared to complete the program. It is necessary to make sure that they are ready in problem-solving situations. Professionals propose new activities to check students' logic and improvements.

Solution and Impact

Participants in the program who don't have serious neurological damages in brain functioning have better resources to deal with all sort of challenges.

There are some main results of the intervention program with games can be underlined, from a qualitative point of view:
- Participation results in the development of less impulsive and more focused attitudes towards a goal.
- Children with learning difficulties improve their cognitive capacities and executive functioning skills.
- There is also a reduction of inadequate attitudes at home and at school, according to the feedbacks from children’s parents and teachers.
- For the last 25 years the great majority of children benefit from the program.

Future Developments

Considering the good results of the intervention program, there are two scenarios to be aimed at. First, the lab team of researchers will carry on with the group activities using games, focusing on children with learning difficulties. Some researches show that it is possible to identify learning difficulties in the game context and, as a consequence, a lot can be done to help these children to overcome them in an early stage. In a larger scale, this program could also help families and teachers to support more children to prevent problems that affect self-esteem and emotional well-being.

Second, the focus is on sharing experience to establish new partnerships with institutions that work with educational matters, in particular the ones that have children with learning difficulties aged from 7 to 11 years. Training can be organized for teachers interested in learning how to implement the intervention program with games in their own educational practices.

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