Pace Magazine

Making Social and Emotional Learning Fun

Lance Pauker
January 18, 2024
Show and Spell board game
Stan Royzman posing with his board game, Show and Spell.
Stan Royzman, PsyD, posing with Show and Spell

Stan Royzman, PsyD, is a 2016 graduate of Dyson’s School-Clinical PsyD program and supervising

psychologist for Pace’s McShane Center for Psychological Services. He’s been a practicing psychologist for seven years, and his work primarily revolves around neuropsychology, psychotherapy, and advocacy.

Royzman, like many licensed psychologists who work with children, often makes use of games to connect with his patients and build rapport.  

“Children communicate through play and they learn best by interacting with their environment. Therapists and counselors use games to build rapport, help children learn about and practice their social skills, and to grow more comfortable with expressing emotions.”

Over time, Royzman recognized a gap in the availability of games that foster social and emotional development. His aim as a psychologist is to enhance children's well-being, helping them develop skills for healthy relationships and emotion regulation.

"Children love games like Uno, Jenga, Catan, Connect Four…" he notes. "I found myself wishing for games that were equally as engaging but focused on social and emotional learning."

Royzman thus, saw an opportunity.

“I wanted to design a set of games that included all of the wonderful features that make physical games so enjoyable, but do so in a way that places social and emotional skills at the forefront.”

The result? After years of fine-tuning and collaboration, Royzman has launched Show and Spell—an inclusive set of three games for children ages five and above that emphasize emotions, nonverbal communication, social skills, perspective taking, and collaborative problem solving.

Through card decks, timers, dice, engaging images, and other familiar components, the games seek to reflect some of the most popular classics; but now with educational goals in mind. Furthermore, they are intentionally designed to be easily modifiable based on factors ranging from age to developmental needs, and are meant to assist parents, counselors, therapists, and educators in helping to meet their specific objectives. Due to the changing nature of education and supportive services during the past few years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Show and Spell is also designed to be compatible in a virtual setting.

I wanted to design a set of games that included all of the wonderful features that make physical games so enjoyable, but do so in a way that places social and emotional skills at the forefront.

He explains, "Psychological well-being starts with the ability to discuss emotions comfortably, interact with others in a healthy way, and manage daily challenges effectively. These games are meant to supplement the social and emotional goals that parents have for their children, and that therapists and educators have for the kids with whom they work."

His current focus is to distribute Show and Spell widely, seeking feedback for improvement and potentially laying the groundwork for additional SEL games. He emphasizes, "Games must be fun, irrespective of their social-emotional content. My objective was to create games where learning is baked into the fun, akin to making broccoli more appealing by covering it in chocolate and whipped cream."

Driven by his fondness for neighborhood toy stores, he has partnered with The March Hare, an enchanting toy store situated in Manhattan's East Village. Royzman remarks, "Children require spaces in their communities that ignite creativity and foster a sense of wonder. I hope that Show and Spell will make a positive contribution to this endeavor.”

Learn more about Show and Spell and join the mailing list to enter the monthly raffle to win a copy

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