Guest blog post: Games as a source of positive reinforcement turning playing into learning

TinyTap games are designed to provide your children with positive feedback which nourishes their sense of accomplishment and makes them feel successful.

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All TinyTap games are full of both verbal and visual feedback that act as positive reinforcement for your child’s learning. By creating your own games with TinyTap’s platform, you create personalized games that are individually developed by you to fit your child’s needs.

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In this guest blog post you will learn more about positive reinforcement and its importance for learning and acquiring life skills.

 

A while ago my 10 month old son was playing with his toy pyramid, trying to stack colored rings over a plastic post. When he failed, he felt frustrated and wanted to quit. I decided to help him, and show him that with a little bit of practice he can succeed.
 
After guiding him by holding his hand, he quickly learnt how it’s done. But only when he succeeded and I clapped my hands saying “Well done” – only then he wanted to repeat his newly acquired skill!
 
From that moment on, he couldn’t stop stacking the rings and looking at me waiting for my positive reinforcement – making him feel that his success is really appreciated and encouraged.

 

What are positive reinforcements?

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Positive reinforcements are items, social recognition or activities that motivate a child to repeat a behavior in the future. Positive reinforcements are things like rewards, or things we will generally work to get. Parents and educators use positive reinforcement to modify children’s behavior and provide positive feedback for achievements.
 

How positive reinforcements turn playing into learning?

 
When a child plays a game or does any other activity for that matter, she uses her ability to learn how to do something in a way that results in a successful or a non-successful outcome. This cause and effect relationship is the basis for most human interactions.

 
Once a child is being ‘rewarded’ by positive reinforcement in a form of positive feedback, her mind forms a connection between her behavior and the positive reinforcement. This scenario encourages the child to repeat her behavior, and seek different ways to receive this positive feedback again.
 
The most effective positive reinforcements in games are immediate verbal or visual feedback. Once a child succeeds at any kind of task, for example – following a question – “where is the baby’s nose?” she points at the nose, and immediately receives a visual or verbal feedback like “That’s correct!” or “well done”! She enjoys the feeling of accomplishment and learns that when
she answers correctly she is being rewarded by kind words.

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When a child experiences failure and she receives comforting feedback such as “try again” or “you’ll do better next time”, this encourages her to try again and teaches her to learn from her mistakes and that making mistakes is a part of learning.

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What positive feedback should we give our kids?

Here are some ideas for giving your child the best possible positive feedback:
 

1. Introduce a game for your child’s developmental stage

Let her play independently but stay close to watch her play. You can learn by watching how she reacts to success and how she reacts to failure. Often the frustration that is caused by failure can be easily reduced. If you see that your child is getting frustrated by a challenging task, you can help her with this task a few times. Remember to always provide postive reinforcment in the form of words of encouragment.
 
Even if she doesn’t succeed, try to let her know that it is perfectly normal to fail and boost confidence back by showing or reminding her how great she is in performing other tasks. Your reaction to your child’s behavior, is often more important than the experience itself.
 

2. Choose a game that you can play together

When you play with your child, observe how she interacts with you and with the game and add immediate positive feedback when needed.
 
The dynamics between you and the game can teach her a lot about your perspective and about a healthy approach to wining and loosing. You presence allows you to help her expend her knowledge and ignites her curiosity by mediating the objects and actions in the game with enthusiasm and making them simple and accessible. You can make your child feel confident, happy and positive with a sense that she can face any challenge.
 

3. Apply it to your everyday life

Desirable behavior that is immediately rewarded by your kind words, will probably repeat itself. This derives from our natural drive to please those we love.
 

Even if it seems that when children play games, they are disconnected from their surroundings, remember that they are in fact learning from every new experience and their brain develops rapidly forming new connections that are there to stay.
 
Our job as parents and educators is to use positive feedback to nourish their sense of accomplishment, help them learn new skills and to teach them to explore the world and learn from everything around them.

Jenny Maidel Kravetsky (2 Posts)

Jenny Maidel Kravetsky is a mother to Matan. She had studied and worked in the areas of user interface design, development of tutorials and educational games, and online collaborative reading. She has also worked as an educator for elementary school students, and tutored children from disadvantaged families. Jenny holds a B.A. in pre-school education and comparative literature and an M.A. in Educational Technology (both from Bar-Ilan University).


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