The power of simulations has impressed me for quite a while now. I wanted to share some other types of simulations we've used to teach principles or provide learning opportunities:
GENTLEMEN BEHAVIOR - I have envisioned that I want sons that know proper behavior; they need to know there's a time and a place to wrestle and other situations where more formal etiquette is necessary. I'm not at all against wrestling and rough housing. Research shows it positively impacts the ability to set boundaries. It's more the TIMING of the wrestling that matters to me. Sacrament mtg., for example, is NOT my favorite time to play Don King.
When desires to wrestle are apparent - I like to set the stage for it. We create a padded wrestling stage, go over rules like "No biting, punching or kicking," and teach proper take downs and pins. Then they start in their corners and obey the start/stop whistle. This is a simulation. I think it teaches skills, allows aggression to escape and also teaches self-control b/c they learn to start and stop the activity, not letting it escalate until someone needs a ride to the ER.
Next - in raising gentlemen, I was trying to think of a medium to teach them appropriate behaviors, other than lectures :) That's when I became hooked on Knights. I love the code of Knights and stories that teach great values of bravery, loyalty, honor, chivalry, etc. So we use knight books, dress ups, acting out scenes, etc. as a medium for developing the values of knighthood.
Another desire I had was to be able to take my children to others' homes, such as for visiting teaching, if I absolutely HAD to take them, and have them behave respectably. So I teach one older lady who lives in a small apt with "old lady things." She's delightfully tolerant of children, wonderful to them. I called her one day to ask if she would participate as a hostess for our "Gentlemen's camp." That's what we call it. I explained to my boys that adults like children who behave well. I stated that clearly about 3 times. Then I shared that when adults like children, they often give them special privileges, opportunities, attention and rewards. On the way to the woman's house, I gave examples of how to act in a new person's home, how to ask for permission to touch things, how to speak properly, etc. At the home I just let them explore, interjecting at times to help script the conversation. For example, I'd see Aisea reaching for a glass vase and I'd say, "Aisea, say 'Sister Young, can I hold this vase?'" He'd pause and repeat that phrase. We did this type of coaching throughout the visit and when I could tell their interest was beginning to wear, we ended the visit. Sister Young was very complimentary to the boys and had a treat for them. As we left, I affirmed their behaviors and reiterated, "Adults LIKE children with good behaviors. She said you are welcome to come to her house again!"
They enjoy our "Gentlemen's Camp," and also now have another "friend," at church that they enjoy sitting by, doing things for, and just saying "Hi," to each week. (I think it makes her day too.)
Simulations for building confidence and self-worth:
I know these are critical core beliefs and are built early on. Therefore, I want my children to feel a sense of mastery in the experiences they have. I believe that is how they build confidence and self-worth. When they are asked to give talks, sing or say a scripture at church, for example, I do two things: 1st, I let them choose the topic (or scripture) and dictate the talk to me. That way, it's their words, their testimony and by me helping them share what THEY want to share, I feel it validates them, their knowledge and their abilities. 2nd we go up to the church during the week and rehearse their talk several times with the microphone. I just make it fun, not like a forced "YOU MUST DO THIS," kind of drill. We have fun. They play with the mic and sing in to it, make funny sounds...get all that "boy stuff" out of their system, and then they're ready to really practice. I refer to General Conference speakers they've seen and remind them of those behaviors, giving them a visual for posture, reverence and delivery. After they've done it a few times, we go an play in the nursery. It's just a fun practice trip to the church. Then I'll read their talks to them while they eat breakfast a couple of more times, not asking them to recite it, just letting them listen while I read with feeling and emphasis. These are simulations. When the real event happens, they're comfortable and prepared. They give great deliveries and receive affirmations from others that reinforces the principles of confidence and self-worth.
It seems that almost anything can be taught through simulations and they are empowering. They empower the child to overcome fears and anxieties while in a safe, confined situation. They build confidence and self-worth, provide a depth and breadth of experiences, build logical processing skills, and ultimately set a precedence for them to learn to practice, practice, practice anything they want to become better at.