Play is the work of children, and as children play, they learn. Board games provide kids with amazing benefits both socially and developmentally. Family game time provides the opportunity for bonding, playing games with friends teaches a host of social skills, and playing the games themselves is shown to boost a kid’s cognitive and language development. Learning games provide kids with a fun and relaxing environment in which they can practice and master their developing skills. In this article, you will learn how board games benefit your kids and some top games that will maximize those benefits.
Video games are all the rage among children these days and can offer some benefits. But board games shouldn’t be dismissed as something old-fashioned. Playing board games encourages kids to follow rules, reason, and think ahead. Because most board games are multiplayer, kids learn about taking turns, helping less experienced players (peers), and about winning and losing. It also creates opportunities for family device free time and encourages in-person interaction.
The educational benefits of board games
Early educational board games provide interactive opportunities for learning. These games usually include skills such as identifying or matching quantity, color, or shape. They also promote hand-eye coordination and fine motor dexterity. These games introduce early childhood lessons in taking turns and following instructions and provide a good foundation for the more advanced games of slightly older children.
As children get older, board games begin to incorporate elements such as strategy. These games stimulate the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for planning, organizing, and decision making.
By playing age-appropriate word-based board games, many kids will unknowingly expand their vocabularies and improve their spelling. Meanwhile, the need to focus and remember what is happening during the game means that children gradually lengthen their attention span and improve their concentration.
What else do board games teach?
Board games often teach real life lessons in small but significant ways. Children can learn the value of cooperative play by teaming up with their friends or siblings, playing games across age ranges and skill levels. Playing games of chance or skill both offer the chance for kids to learn that outcomes can change in a moment and that both winning and losing are an inevitable part of life. Learning how to manage frustration when things are not going their way is also possible when games are parent guided. By ensuring that rules are followed, kids learn how to cope and be resilient when things do not go their way.
Socially, board games not only teach cooperative skills, but their structure can help anxious or shy kids connect with their peers. Games that provide specific opportunities to speak (such as asking or answering questions) allow children to talk without them having to think about what they are going to say.
Types of educational board games for kids
- Classic board games are the more traditional board games that most parents will have played during their childhood. Most classic board games are abstract strategy games and include games like chess, backgammon, checkers, and dominoes. The games all have rules that are easy to understand (even though chess can become very complex) and usually rely on skill and strategy, with each move they make impacting the next move and the potential outcome of the game.
- Educational board games are created to teach a specific topic, skill, or technique. The purpose of these games is to make learning fun.
- Strategy and war board games such as Battleship or Chinese Checkers are designed to be played tactically and strategically. These games are great for developing situational awareness and critical thinking.
Board games are generally multi-player and there is a selection of games that range from 2 player to larger group play.
The best educational board games for your kids are the ones that engage them and teach them at any particular moment. Today may be a good day for a game of strategy, while tomorrow may be a good day for a game that reinforces language or social skills.
While there are 100s of educational games on the market, it may take some time to find the games that suit your own kids best. It is important to remember that while one purpose of an educational board game is to learn or develop, it is equally important that the game is fun and your child enjoys playing it.
Choose an age-appropriate game
At each age and grade level, there are a variety of educational board games that are available that match the skills and developmental stage of the child. While an older child can easily play a game meant for younger kids, it is important not to overwhelm a younger child with a game that they are too young to play. If your child has not yet reached the level of competency required for a game, they will become frustrated, lose interest, and will be unlikely to want to try the game again in the future.
6 great educational games for 6 year olds
With that in mind, a 6 year old is ready to play a competitive game with their friends and to join in on family games. Ideal games for this age will teach strategy skills, good sportsmanship (or gamesmanship), tackling a challenge, and concentration.
7 ideal educational games for 7-year-olds
By the time kids are 7 years old, they are able to play games that improve their strategy skills. Board games at this stage provide a great medium for kids to communicate without stress.
Science board games for all ages
In recent years, there has been a growth in board games aimed at improving STEM skills in kids (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). By providing kids with non-academic opportunities to engage with science content and concepts, they are encouraged to process facts and learn in their own way. While science board games can become really complex, there are games that are designed for kids of all ages and each game provides its own learning opportunity.
5 highly recommended science board games for kids include:
Why should my child play educational board games?
Playing board games increases a child’s confidence and problem-solving skills. Some games also provide opportunities for collaboration and can help children develop tools required for teamwork and group projects. Through repetition and practice, children are able to work towards mastery while at the same time learning about the importance of setting limits and following rules or guidelines.
Games of all kinds, including board games, give your children the chance to practice emotional regulation. As kids learn to manage their feelings when they win and when they lose, they become used to the emotions and can prevent them from being overwhelming in the future.
Many fun educational board games for kids can be adapted to accommodate children with special needs. You may adjust game play time, introduce simpler rules, or limit options. Likewise, if your child struggles with an aspect of a game, see whether you can modify or simplify it to make it more fun until they are ready to move to the next level. For some kids, the idea of changing a game and creating new rules and guidelines, or even creating their own game may be more fun and challenging than the gameplay itself.
Remember that while your child has their own unique interests and preferences, they may not always want to play the chosen game. It is a good life skill for them to learn how to participate regardless. Chances are that once immersed in the game, they will have a great time along with all the other players.
Board games are a wonderful opportunity to allow your child to learn without even realizing it and for you to spend focused time together in the process.