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January 21, 2021

Game of Skills

Editor’s Note: Click this link to view upcoming Stronger Me, Stronger We Mind in the Making offerings.

My Father Owns a Grocery Store is a game I learned as a child. I had no idea of the benefits and impact it could have all these years later.

As a facilitator for Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR), I teach this game to participants in Mind in the Making (MITM) workshops during the Making Connections module. Making Connections is one of the seven essential life skills every child needs. This skill helps us figure out what’s the same, what’s different, and what goes into which categories. Making unusual connections moves us beyond knowing information to using information well.

My Father Owns a Grocery Store is a game that can be played from ages 4-110, with 1 to 26 players, and it can be played anywhere. In a recent MITM cohort, all of the participants happened to be at work and were questioning their capabilities and even resistant to the memory association game for various reasons.

Before the game, I reminded them of the Executive Functions (EF) and life skills we’ve already practiced. The EF were Working Memory—where you have stored information that you must work with, Cognitive Flexibility—requires you to continue working with adjustments and new input, and Inhibitory Control—which is when you stop yourself from going into automatic pilot…in this case, giving the players the gift of time and space to process so they can figure out the answers on their own.

We had also covered life skills, including Focus & Self Control, Perspective Taking, and Communication, all of which are strengthened while playing this game!

As we played the first round, there was hesitancy and laughter. In the second round, you could see different strategies emerge, such as choosing unique words to remember or associating the word with who provided it. It was evident in the third round that the challenge was accepted, and confidence grew, as did encouragement, respect for each other, and cheering!

As we closed out this game, I asked all of the participants to type one word into the chat on how they felt so I could get a pulse on their experience. Across the chat came words such as satisfied, hyper-focused, relieved, accomplished, and amazing! They were surprised at how well they did and were proud.

When we met again two days later, they wanted to see what they could remember, and yet again, they were able to get through the round from two days prior. Bringing their strategies, patience, and encouragement made us all stronger as a group.

This session reminded me of the success in carrying out The Patterson Foundation’s value on how we work with others to strengthen their impact by understanding that resources and expertise beyond the gift provide value!

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