If you bring out board games on cozy Friday nights or over long holiday weekends, know that the kids get big benefits out of the special family time. In addition to teaching them about teamwork, patience, and how to win and lose gracefully, board games can actually benefit kids’ brains and language development.
1. Board games offer opportunities for early learning.
Even simple games help young players identify colors, count spaces, and develop hand-eye coordination and dexterity in moving cards and pieces about the board. Plus, understanding how to wait your turn and follow the guidelines are necessary lessons that serve kids far beyond the living room floor.
2. They get older kids’ brains buzzing, too.
Board games are a fairly easy way to encourage healthy brain development in older kids and teens. “Strategy games are useful in helping the frontal lobes of the brain develop, a clinical psychologist, author, and owner of the private practice Harborside Wellbeing. “Those frontal lobes are in charge of executive function skills, such as planning, organizing, and making good decisions.”
3. They boost their language skills.
Board games can be considered a sneaky way of helping school-aged kids focus on skills they’re struggling with. Have a reluctant reader? A round of the BOB Books Happy Hats Beginning Reading Game will help them expand their vocabulary and flex their spelling skills.
Meanwhile, games where players have to recollect several bits of information at once (who did what, and where) might help a kid who’s having problems with reading comprehension – all while still having fun.
4. They sharpen your child’s focus.
“Board games, when played without interruptions, can help lengthen a child’s attention span. But to reap the benefits, everyone needs to invest in seeing the game through to the end.
“If your family sits down for a casino game of Chinese checkers, make certain to complete a complete game without everyone checking their phone, asking Alexa that can be played a song, or turning on the television for the latest football scores,” adds Prior. “Finishing a game without interruptions can help lengthen the declining attention span of kids in a global filled with digital distractions.”
5. They teach the value of teamwork.
Board games often offer kids meta-messages about life: Your luck can transform in an instant, for better or for worse. But in addition to teaching them that there is nothing guaranteed, board games are a good way to encourage kids of different ages to team up and work together – something they’ll should do throughout life.
6. Board games are an option to time out.
In other words, taking turns and practicing patience throughout a game – even though things don’t go their way – can help children practice more respectful responses than stomping off and slamming their bedroom door shut.
7. Board games soothe anxiety.
They may help anxious kids learn how to navigate friendships more easily. “Because they’re structured, board games can offer an easier way to generate interpersonal relationships with peers, because the child knows what’s expected of which,. For kids who have a problem with striking up conversations with others, Galanti recommends games that promote set up opportunities for chatter, such as guessing games.
8. They show kids how to be a good loser.
“If you’re playing with a kid who has low frustration tolerance, and losing is very difficult for them, allowing them to break the guidelines at first can make the game more tolerable and fun for them, “But my goal is often to purposely play by the guidelines and encourage them to use coping skills and promote resilience when things don’t go their way.”