Dungeons and Dragons for kids. Yes, the game from the 80’s that was played in secret in basements. It is not just for adults anymore. Yes, the main game is still for adults, but many schools and therapist are changing it to help kids with communication skills, social issues, math and literacy, and prioritization. How does Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) teach these skills in a game about fighting monsters? Let’s review basic ways that any role-playing game (RPG) can help.
Math and Literacy Skills
In RPGs, kids must create characters using basic rules and their imaginations. To start off they will read the rules and write out their character’s back stories. As they play, they must track their character’s health using addition and subtraction based on dice rolls. They will track the adventure and activity using journaling.
Communication and Social Skills
These RPGs rely on you working with a group of other people who are adventuring with you. You need to decide what course of action you should take and discuss both the pros and cons to these actions. The table top games help develop various social cues such as facial and body language reading. As the kids are discussing the adventure and actions, they can see what their adventuring party is thinking and feeling and learn to read and react to those clues. Kids will also need to think on their feet to respond to events and come with up new ideas while the story is still progressing.
In our complex lives playing a game with a group of people in person presents its own set of complications. Seeing the planning and the emphasize on this in-person time shows the priority we place on this type of interaction. It helps kids understand that interacting with people in a way other than digitally is still more important and that to do so requires forethought and planning. You must make the time and set aside the space for everyone to come together.
Many schools in the US are having D&D groups developing in Middle and High school. There are therapists that are using it as well to help those in the autistic community. You can check out the new Critical Core set by Game to Grow. This is in a Kickstarter for their game set. There are many places to learn more online but Wizards of the Coast is the makers of Dungeons and Dragons and a good place to start.