Ditch The Screens: 5 Key Benefits To Playing Games With Your Kids
by Lyn McNamee
Outside, the rain’s beating on every window and the trees in the garden are whipping in the wind. Inside, your ten and eight-year-old are fighting on the floor, while Miss Six is busily drawing on your brand new wall. Sound familiar?
It’d be so easy to bring out the iPads and let everyone entertain themselves. But, here are five great reasons to ditch the screens and opt for a game instead.
Educate through play
Board and card games offer heaps of chances for kids to develop those all-important math and language skills without even realising they’re learning.
Games are all about math.
Have you ever thought about the number and geometry concepts involved in a simple game of Snakes and Ladders?
- Number recognition
- The visual concept of 100.
- Recognising number patterns on a dice
- Counting on
- Paths and directions
- Addition and subtraction
- Understanding the board layout
- Properties of a cube…
But what about language?
Often there’s some writing, which is a great way for kids to practice reading as a real-world skill. But even if there’s not a single written word in the game, there’s still plenty of oral language involved.
Not only are you talking as a group — or consulting with your partner — you’re all sending out nonverbal signals as well.
We often understand meaning by “reading” faces and body language. Some kids learn this intuitively, others need a lot of help. Either way, it takes practice.
So that simple game of Snap. Old Maid or Skip-Bo gives you and your children the perfect opportunity to practice reading and interpreting those frowns, shrugs and grins.
Learn Life Skills For Winning and Losing
It’s natural to feel like cheering when we win and spitting the dummy when we lose, both in games and real life.
Like it or not, the world’s a competitive place but no-one admires a poor sport — or a skite. Playing games as a family gives you the chance to model how to play fairly to win and how to enjoy your victory without crowing over the loser.
Kids need to know that you can hate losing, but you still need to smile and say “good game” to the winner instead of throwing a tantrum.
Play games to help your kids develop self control but give them ways to let off steam too. Genuinely congratulate the winner and then all go for a run, play loud music, jump on the trampoline or throw down a heap of pillows and roll all over the living room.
Build Strategic Thinking
The ability to anticipate, think through possibilities and plan or react accordingly is not innate. It’s a skill we start as children and continue to develop as teens and adults. When you play games together you’re giving kids another opportunity to learn these skills.
Kids can try out different strategies and get a real feel for what works and what doesn’t. What happens if I play it safe? If I throw caution to the wind? Should I spread my soldiers across the board or concentrate on one profitable corner?
You can take the chance to show your kids how to analyse where they went wrong too. What’s the victor’s winning strategy? How could I try that next time we play?
Teach Them How To Meet A Challenge
Kids need lots of chances to flex their “challenge muscles.”
They need “keep-going” muscles, problem solving skills and a “don’t throw-in-the-towel-at-the-first-knock-down” attitude, to name just a few.
Playing board games with family and friends helps your child to work on their challenge muscles time and time again.
Learn Good Manners For Games And For Life
- Take turns to play
- Games usually move clockwise around the players
- Who starts? Player left of the dealer? Throw of the dice?
- Leave your cards on the table until all hands are dealt
- Pack up properly when the game is finished.
Kids can learn these not only in board and card games, but also for life. Waiting your turn is boring, but it’s a reality in the classroom, playground and in the adult world.
Quality Time Counts
Of course, you don’t have to wait for a rainy day to get out the Rummikub or Catan.
After all, there’s nothing children love more than spending time with you. Putting your own device aside to talk, laugh and play with them sends the vital message that you care.
At the same time these games have powerful lessons for kids, and they’ll learn them better if you’re there to enjoy the fun too.
The Game Shop
Did you know we have an excellent Game Shop right here on this site which features board games and reviews. Check it out!