Circle games and other "self-regulation" games prove to be a big advantage of sending your young ones to preschool. Teaching preschoolers those circle games may help them be better students down the road.
Remember that game in preschool where the teacher would have the class stand up and recite a song that went like this: “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes” and on and on it went. The preschoolers' pointed out the parts of the body named in the song, over and over, bending, standing, and bending and standing. Now, we find out there was more going on than a simple way to entertain kids. It is thought that by practicing this and other similar games, preschoolers are carefully listening and increasing their ability to follow instructions. Also it teaches preschoolers the all-important trait of self-control. These skills are known as “a child’s ability to self-regulate.”
A study performed by Megan McClelland, an associate professor of human development and family science at Oregon State University, shows games that teaching preschoolers' self-regulation can improve early math and literacy scores. The results of the study, conducted in the U.S., Taiwan, China and South Korea, were all the same. When a preschooler is better at the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders task (similar to Simon Says), they perform better academically.
Preschoolers' also became better at any task by practicing, and therefore, by practicing self-regulation games kids are able to increase their academic ability.
In a study on 65 preschool-age children in Oregon, McClelland found that children who started the year with low levels of self-regulation skills saw significant gains in self-regulation as the year went on after doing various “circle-time” games in the classroom. These games are similar to Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders and Simon says, stressing physical action, self-control, and listening skills.
So next time you need to entertain a bunch of preschoolers, introduce the song, and you have yourself a real teachable moment.
Chris O'Neill worked as an editorial intern at HVParent during the summer of 2011.