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Why Kids Should Play Boardgames



Children have a strong desire to play. Play time is an essential part of child development. Children play in a variety of ways. It helps them learn, imitate, and become creative. Play time can help them learn a variety of important skills and increase their confidence as they grow older. Boardgames are a great way to incorporate play that can include the entire family and strengthen those supportive bonds between caregiver and child or sibling and sibling. As children get older, their skills develop and their ability to play more complex games increases. To help a child increase their developing potential, it is good for the child to have a challenge that is within their ability but requires a little help in order for them to achieve and meet the objectives of that challenge. This is known as the “zone of proximal development,” which was discovered by Lev Vygotsky, psychologist of child development.

There are many benefits to boardgames. The type of games can vary in what skills are being targeted:

  • Visual motor and visual scanning skills

  • Fine motor skills

  • Math skills

  • Verbal skills

  • Social and emotional skills

Social and emotional skills begin to develop very early in life. When a child doesn’t develop these skills, they may suffer from anxiety, depression, poor emotion regulation, poor social skills, antisocial behaviors, and much more. These skills can lead to difficulties later in life such as building relationships with others, maintaining a stable job, and drug and alcohol abuse.


Some of the ways that boardgames can improve a child’s social and emotional skills include:

  • Identifying personal feelings

  • Regulate/express emotions safely and effectively

  • Being prosocial

  • Take responsibility for one’s self

  • Ability to set short- and long-term goals

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills

  • Respect others/value diversity

  • Communication skills

  • Develop/maintain healthy relationships with others

  • Conflict management

  • Admit mistakes/seek help when needed

Through gameplay, a child can improve verbal and communication skills, develop trial and error problem-solving, seek hypothesis testing, and understand cognitive constructs and themes. During game play, a child will enjoy fun and humor, which can increase creativity and optimistic thinking.


A few games based on age and development include:


3-4 years old:

  • Candy Land - assists in color recognition, counting, and turn-taking.

  • Chutes and Ladders – assists in number recognition and counting.

5-6 years old:

  • Zingo - a bingo style game that stimulates matching, visual skills, and quick thinking.

  • Monopoly Junior – Similar to regular Monopoly but shorter with smaller dollar amounts. Assists in math, reading, and reasoning skills.


References:

Hronek, R., & Roffey, S. (2009. Promoting social and emotional learning with games: “it’s fun and we learn things.” Simulation & Gaming, 40(5), 626-644. https://doi.org/10.1177/1046878109333793

Rosenfeld, A. (2005). The benefits of boardgames. Scholastic Parent & Child, 12(4), 52-54.

“Family Game Night.” Pacific Community Church, https://pacificcommunitychurch.org/event/family-game-night/. (Image is from this site)



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