Board games are one of the most popular types of children’s toy. We played them ourselves growing up, and now we buy them for our kids. They offer lots of fun for the whole family and are perfect for quality time and family nights in – but what do children learn by playing board games? A whole lot of beneficial skills that will aid their development – that’s got to be a win win.
When children are around two years old, you can try introducing them to very simple board games. With my children, this normally works best as a one to one activity with one child and parent while they get used to the format of board games and turn taking. Once they have that down, then you’re ready to introduce them to playing in a slightly larger family group, with a sibling or two.
Check out Games Quest to find some board games that will be suited to your children’s age and stage.
Board games or card games are one of the easiest ways to practice turn taking at home. A simple game of snakes and ladders, or dominoes is great way to help build up these skills. With young children, it helps to verbally label each turn as you go “R’s turn” “Mum’s turn” and so on.
Turn taking is a vital skill when it comes to interacting with other children, in school and later on but it’s also really important for language development. Children need to learn the pattern of taking turns in speech – you talk, and then the other person talks, and so on.
Going beyond turn taking, board games are such a great resource for practising lots of social skills in a fun way. Kids learn to play the game together with others, and later they start to consider the moral issues of cheating or playing fair, being a gracious or sore loser. Board games give a structured way to interact with other children – which can be really useful if your child does struggle with social skills.
Board games offer practice with dexterity, hand eye coordination and visual discrimination as kids look at the board, pick up and manipulate the pieces, spin the spinner or throw the dice.
When you first start out introducing your children to board games, it’s best to go with simple and short ones. The entire game can be finished in 5-10 minutes, but concentrating for those few minutes is great for a toddler and as they enjoy the game, they will start to concentrate for longer periods of time and want to play again and again.
Understanding and Following Rules
Practically all board games have set rules, so trying out new games is an ideal way for children to start understanding and applying the rules for each one. As they start playing games with other children, they will soon see that it’s no fun if someone keeps cheating and that it benefits the whole group if they all follow the rules.
As children get older, many games involve making strategic choices and thinking carefully to plan for the best outcome. Games like chess are a perfect example of this, and will help to build strong logical skills.
Understanding Chance and Luck
With younger children, many games are based on chance and luck rather than skill. Playing board games often will help them to understand this, as they see that sometimes one person wins and the next time they might do badly. Rolling a die to see how many squares you will be allowed to move is a really simple way to learn about probability. Children won’t even know that they are learning, but all of this experience will help when they do on to study these topics.
If you’re looking to work on a specific skill with your child, like learning letters, numbers or colours, you can always find a game that will fit in with whatever your topic is, and help make learning fun!
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