By playing board games from an early age children have opportunities to develop language and communication, math and thinking skills in a fun way. Children who engage with and learn fundamental academic skills from great board games have the chance for better academic outcomes than children who do not have that opportunity.
The best board games are well worth anyone's time.
Classic board games are a low cost, easily available and common teaching tool that help develop vital learning skills in young children. They also, perhaps most importantly, make learning fun.
Games such as “Pictionary” and “Scattergories” develop important communication skills whereas games such as “Scrabble” and “Boggle” develop important vocabulary and early word learning skills. An added feature of any board games is that it teaches young children turn-taking skills, turn waiting, learning how to win humbly, and how to lose gracefully.
We live in a golden age of board gaming. If you grew up with “Scrabble” and “Clue” (which are okay games) and “Risk” and “Monopoly” (which are a bit more painful), you may understandably believe such things are limited in scope and of interest only to kids or eccentric adults. If you still think of “Chutes and Ladders” and “Candyland” then you should know that the world of board games has changed a lot since we were little.
Modern board games offer:
10 Reasons to Play Board Games with Kids
Turn Taking is one of the first things you learn about playing games; times when you get to act, and times when you wait. Drawing cards, moving bits around on the board, grabbing the dice - these are things you shouldn’t be doing unless it’s your turn. Playing games teaches kids that there are appropriate times for everything, and this will extend outside of games to real life.
Game Suggestion: Tsuro, or other games in which each turn is pretty short.
One of my favorite things about getting kids into a board game is that, they don't sit in front of a screen. Playing games can provide rich face-to-face interaction that’s hard when your kid is playing a computer game.
Game suggestion: Krosmaster Arena
Not every board game requires math, but a vast number of them do rely on at least some basic arithmetic, adding pips on dice, tallying up scores. Some require more complex ideas, evaluating probabilities, keeping track of modifiers, like in Sentinels of the Multiverse. Playing games will give your kids practice, improve their math skills and set them up for STEM careers down the road.
Game suggestion: Numbers League or any game with numbers.
There are all sorts of benefits to exercising your brain when you’re older, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start young. Playing games is a great way to keep your mind flexible and active.
More complex games require you to think about not just what you’re doing this particular turn, but what your long-term strategy is. It doesn’t help to capture your opponent’s pawn if it means they’ll take your queen in the next move. The ability to think ahead while playing games will help your kids think ahead in real life, too.
Actions and Consequences
Actions have consequences: your actions can have positive and negative consequences on both yourself and on others. Games give you a closed environment in which the cause-and-effect can be more easily tracked, but they help develop a mindset that will help you think about the consequences of your actions in the real world.
Game suggestion: Zooloretto Mini - a series of simple choices affects you and the other players.
Making Difficult Decisions
After kids understand that actions have consequences, the next step is the ability to make difficult decisions. Games often require you to choose between equally rewarding (or punishing) options, and playing them builds your ability to decide what criteria are relevant and what to ignore, and how to balance risk and reward.
Game suggestion: Tahiti - carrying more stuff means you get fewer actions, resulting in difficult decisions.
Cooperative games are on the rise, and they’re particularly great for parents. With these, you can ignore the age-old dilemma: Do I go easy on my kids, or teach them to get used to losing? Instead, this new(ish) batch of games is all about working together toward a common objective. Knowing how to make the most of everyone’s strengths is as important in the real world as it is in cooperative games.
Being a Good Sport
Nobody likes a sore loser or a big-headed winner. Playing competitive games with your kids lets you model how to be gracious, whether you win or lose. They’ll come to see that what you love is the play, not just the win. Teach them the difference between in-game attacks and personal attacks.
Game suggestion: Flash Duel - a bit of direct competition can teach a valuable lesson.
By getting kids hooked on games while they’re young, you’ll have a stronger relationship with them. Then when they become teenagers, you won’t have to worry about them getting into trouble somewhere because they’ll want to hang out with you and play games.
Game suggestion: Pretty much anything fun that everyone enjoys! Fortune & Glory
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