“Play is the answer to the question, ‘how does anything new ever come about’?”
Maja Watkins, author of The Brain’s Playground: Using Improv Games To Teach Social and Emotional Learning/Co-Founder of Zip Zap Zop Enrichment, says that using simple improv games can help parents to become more playful with their kids while building relationship skills and trust.
To improvise is to accept the information given and expand through communication that allows the interaction to continue. Improv has often been used on stage to allow performers to be in the moment.
Improv and improv games can be used to help parents explore “the improviser’s mindset” and stay in-the-moment with their children. The improviser’s mindset includes saying “yes-and” when communicating with others, in this case your child.
No one describes the “yes-and” approach better than comedian Stephen Colbert.
During a commencement address, Colbert said: “When I was starting out in Chicago, doing improvisational theatre with Second City and other places, there was really only one rule I was taught about improv. That was, ‘yes-and’. In this case,‘yes-and’ is a verb. To ‘yes-and’. Yes-anding means that you have to accept what the other improviser initiates on stage so that you can agree and add to it.”
Well, you are about to start the greatest improvisation of all. With no script. No idea what's going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So, say ‘yes’. And if you're lucky, you'll find people who will say ‘yes’ back.”
Parents can learn to “yes-and” their children’s play, and during this process, parents can start to embody “the improviser’s mindset.” Maja says that playing with your kids, free of devices, even for just 10 minutes a day, will result in a decrease of attention- seeking behavior and a tremendous increase of laughter, joy, and fun!
Improv games help parents and children practice using their imaginations as well as humor!
Here are two improv games that Maja suggests playing with your child with social goals tied to each game.
What do I need?
A timer (preferably not your cell phone).
10 minutes a day for 2 days.
Your imagination (don’t worry, this will help you!)
Where can I play these games?
At home, in the car, on a walk, at a park, or even in a waiting room!
Some games may need adaptations for various locations and needs, but that is what improv is all about….going with the flow and making it work for you and your family!
Before you begin…
What are the social skills your child may need to practice?
What are some activities you currently do with your child?
Does your child often play independently, or do they need guidance?
Improv Game #1: Yes-and: Alien!
Social Goal: Collaboration/Teamwork
Improv Game #2: Gift Exchange
Social Goal: Flexibility/ “Going with the flow”
Check out Maja Watkins explaining a “Yes...and” Improv Game Below:
Zip Zap Zop Enrichment runs Virtual Social Skills Groups w/ Improv on Saturdays:
For more about Zip Zap Zop Enrichment, click on the link below: