Many of us spent time in class and with our friends playing “Simon Says” when we were younger, thinking it was simply a game. But new research has revealed that playing this game as a child can actually predict future academic success in both reading and mathematics.

It may sound like a stretch, but researcher Megan McClelland of Oregon State University used this game as a way to teach and assess children's ability to self-regulate. The children, ages 3-6, that performed well when playing “Simon Says” were more than 3 months ahead of their peers in early literacy tasks. In previous studies, McClelland also discovered that having children participate in the game could help them improve their ability to self-regulate, thus increasing their academic performance.

In response to her findings, McClelland concluded: "Beyond demographic variables or teacher's expectations, we found that the children in all the countries who performed well on the task did significantly better in math, vocabulary and early literacy. It shows that beyond cultural factors, self-regulation is important for early academic success."

McClelland also discussed the importance of this finding in education: "Although many children enter kindergarten ready to learn, a large number of children start school already behind their peers. As early as kindergarten, they've become the problem child who can't pay attention, can't focus and doesn't follow instructions. This can lead to becoming a problem in the classroom, which then leads to negative attention. And by the end of their kindergarten year, they are more likely to disengage and say they don't like school."

Luckily, the findings from this study can be applied to life almost too easily-  all you have to do is get your child playing “Simon Says". It’s amazing that something so simple can have your child on her way to enhanced self-regulation and higher academic performance. Simon Says: play “Simon Says".

For additional activities that can help your child improve his reading skills, click here! ›