As a kid, I remember playing board games with some of my aunts and beating them silly until no one wanted to play with me; and I don’t mean the kind, where they let you win, No; I mean the kind where they try really hard to beat you but never really do. I was that kid that preferred to sit in with her dad and play a game of scrabble or chess, instead of cycling around the estate with the other kids; Yes! I was that kind of kid. Did I mention I had a perfect score in my quantitative and verbal reasoning at my entrance exams for secondary education? Oh! I’m also really good and fast with calculations.
Most people found me odd, a kid who would rather sit with a chessboard, than hang out at the park. I thought I was odd too. Today, I read an article written by Linda Rodgers on Parenting and how board games can improve brain power, so I’d like to share it here; she writes:
Experts say board games can boost a slew of skills that help kids do better in school. And playing them as a family just ups the benefits—and the fun factor.
Games are great for kids for different reasons at different ages. For preschoolers, they’re a fun way to learn how to “follow rules, focus, take turns and defer gratification, which helps with self-regulation, the basis of problem-solving and thinking creatively,” explains Peter J. Pizzolongo, the senior director of professional development at the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Board games also get bonus points for bringing families together (especially if family dinners are a rare occurrence) and for luring grade-schoolers away from the Wii. And all kids get lessons in decision-making “Should I buy Boardwalk or save my money?” consequences “Ooops—no more cash!” and strategic thinking “If I swap two railroads for Boardwalk, I can start buying houses”.
So should you set up regular times to play or let your child set the agenda?
“Both,” says Pizzolongo. “Let your child come to you, but setting aside a special evening or afternoon gives her a ritual—and predictability and routines are important for kids.” For ideas on what to play, here are some games that get the highest marks from experts. You can learn and play with your kids.
Teachers and child education experts love Scrabble, which is why you’ll find it in every classroom, especially once your child hits third and fourth grades.
By the time your child is in third grade, she’s mastered the basics, so what she needs now are games that teach her patience, persistence and flexibility.
This is another game that can be tailored to preschoolers who don’t yet know their letters or numbers. You can buy versions that are just shapes, colours or everyday objects (Zingo), or you can just cut out photos of things that fascinate your little one (cars, say, or animals) from catalogues. Kindergarteners on up can play the classic version with letters and numbers.
This card game for two or more players can be aged up (the original, with words, numbers and colours) or down (with Thomas the Tank Engine or Disney Princess characters), says Shannon Eis, a play and development expert and mom of two. It’s good for preschoolers to about age 8 or 9.
I Spy Ready to Read
Based on the I Spy books, this board game is actually five games in one, and is geared to kids ages 4 to 6. You may have to help your pre-reader with the riddles at first.
Connect Four/Connect 4 Launchers
Connect Four and Connect 4 Launchers (an updated version of the classic) provide the right type of challenge for your grade-schooler, who’s developmentally ready to become a better strategist, Eis explains. Yes, she’s still a sore loser (especially when she plays with you), but she’s also learning what she’ll need to do to win the game next time around.
Animal Mastermind Towers
Making and breaking codes appeal to your grade-schooler’s more advanced thinking skills, says Eis. Animal Mastermind Towers is a little-kid-friendlier version of the classic for children 5 to 7.
Angry Birds Knock on Wood
The smartphone version has been downloaded 350 million times, and if your 5- to 8-year-old is a fan, you might want to lure her offline for this hands-on, cooperative version.
So it’s not a waste of time, create some time to play these games with your kid. You can always research more games and make family time more interesting.