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Games and Ideas for the Twenty-First Century.

Byline: Ruhaifa Adil

1. Collaboration - the ability to work with others

Why it is important: Collaboration helps children work together as a team and use their pooled skills towards the betterment of society. As Muslims, this is a particularly important skill to hone, because the Muslim Ummah needs to team together to help Islam grow.

How to develop it: When children play together, offer them a collective set of play materials (such as a bin of crayons) rather than individual sets to encourage sharing, turn-taking and social skills. Some ideas for team building games are:

* Body parts: In this game, children are to walk around normally until the facilitator (the parent), calls out a body part and a number (for example 3 elbows). The children to have to react and quickly find others and fulfill the command.

* Dots: Each child is given a coloured dot that is placed on their forehead. Without talking they have to find out what their coloured dot is and find others who have the same coloured dot. Children help each other by pointing to objects to give clues to their friends.

2. Creativity - thinking outside the box

Why it is important: Creativity is the heart of problem-solving - the more a child can be creatively competent, the better able they are to solve problems, both in their personal and work lives. As Muslims, our children need to be taught to be able to think creatively for combating the different problems that the Ummah is facing.

How to develop it: This skill can be taught, nurtured and increased through curiosity and imagination in play.

* Make a movie: Make a movie together - write the plot and script, act out the scenes and record it.

* Encourage construction: Use reclaimed, recycled products to build a structure.

* Old games, new rules: Encourage out-of-the-box thinking by asking your child to come up with one or two new rules to a familiar game. (Make sure the rules are still fair!)

* Create your own superheroes: Gather different clothes, materials and bit-and-bops and put them in one big pile. Next, tell your child to put together an outfit. Ask them what they are dressed up as. Help your child to create a unique character with unique powers. Help steer your child towards thinking of a character with powers that benefits the Ummah. If you are really smart, get them to play the role of maid and clean up their mess afterwards - it's a win-win.

* A new ending: Pick a book, one that isn't a favourite, and read it to your child all the way up to the ending. When you reach that point, stop and ask how they would end it. Chances are they will love their new version much better!

3. Communication - the ability to talk to others

Why it is important: Possibly the biggest challenge faced by the global world is that even though we have become familiar with different cultures and diversity, we are still unable to communicate clearly. Especially if we want to raise future Daee's, we need to hone this twenty-first century skill early on.

How to develop it:

* Disability: Each child is given a disability, such as some have their thumbs tied, some have a blindfold, and some may have their legs tied and so on. Some children may be given multiple disabilities. The children now have to eat snacks by serving themselves from a table, and help the ones, who cannot serve themselves.

* Learn a new language: Introduce phrases from different languages around the world, such as the words for "please" and "thank you", and expose your child to ways of thinking that come from different cultures. Do focus on Arabic, but also pick widely spoken languages such as French and Spanish and also regional language like Punjabi, Sindhi and Pashto.

4. Critical Thinking or the habit of asking "Why?"

Why it is important: Children need to be trained to be critical thinkers and develop discernment from a young age. Critical thinking helps them not only with communication, but also creativity, developing resilient values, and being able to solve problems.

How to develop it:

* Watch the news together. Even if your children are quite young, with proper guidance, they can understand pretty complex issues. Ask them why events happen, what the source is, and how we can resolve the issues. Speak to them particularly about issues that affect Muslims around the world.

* Engineer solutions: Invite your child to help you solve common household problems by engineering new solutions. How can you get the door to not stick? What's a tidier way to take a bath without wetting the floor? How can you fit several boxes in the car, without blocking the driver's view? Can you fit in more? Make sure that the scenarios you present are actually solved by doing, instead of just discussing. Come up with the hypothesis and then test it out!

* The laser maze: Place different chairs and table around the room and tie threads from one to the other at various angles, as if they are lasers. Your children have to now move from the start to the marked end by passing through the maze of "lasers" without setting off the "alarm" (that is without touching any thread).

* The "what if" game: This can be a silly game that can put your little one's creativity to the test. Think of funny scenarios that will get those little minds moving, such as: What if cats barked and dogs meowed? What if children could drive? What if it was sunny all night and dark all day?

A Note on Games

Traditional Games Can Also Teach

Traditional games and board game also are a great way to hone the twenty-first century skills. Games like hide-and-seek or treasure hunt are great collaborative games that help kids learn social-emotional skills. Games like Othello, Rummikub, Blokus, Mastermind, Sequence and chess can teach problem solving. Taboo, Charades and Pictionary teach communication. Simple card games teach taking turns.

Video Games

With the advent of technology, gaming consoles, and smart phones, children have begun spending way too much time on their gadgets. Their negative effects have led conscious parents to advocate no screen time, and gadget free households. However, twenty-first century skills require that our children are gadget smart, because that is where the world is headed. Hence, while keeping an eye on the children, parents should allow a certain limited time for children to play video games. This can be once a week, or a limited time per day. Parents should choose the games themselves, and there are several guidelines online for games that have great learning benefits. Children should also be taught game design. If structured in the right way, gaming can help parents teach their children important twenty-first century skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, memory retention and collaborative learning.
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Date:Aug 2, 2019
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