Want to spend more quality time with your family, but not sure how to go about doing that? Have you tried playing games? No, not head games. Board games. It’s the forgotten family night. Here’s what you need to know to make tonight the best night this week for your family.
There are many benefits to playing family games. Here are some of them:
The Turn-Taking Dynamics
Nearly every game has turn-taking dynamics. One player goes, then the next player. It makes the games equitable and teaches children the value in waiting their turn. It doesn’t, however, teach them to be subordinate – also a good thing. What turn-taking does is show the practical nature of fairness.
When every player receives the same turn, and the same amount of time for that turn, everyone is treated fairly.
And, there are a lot of games that do this very well, especially games from Breaking Games.
For old school games like Monopoly, there is definitely an element of math involved. But, dice-centric games are also math-heavy. The trick is to let your children do the math themselves. If you do it for them, the teaching experience is lost. Yes, it will make the game move more slowly, but that’s OK. This is a fun way to teach math to your kids.
Mental Clarity and Sharpness
Games are great for sharpening your child’s mental and cognitive abilities. Because games are inherently fun, it doesn’t feel like work. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t help your children during gameplay. But, you should let them struggle a little, find their own solutions to problems. This is a valuable life skill.
For strategy-based games, and there are plenty of those out there, games offer the rare ability to be devious without being dishonest. This is valuable because it teaches your children two things:
First, it teaches them to recognize deviousness and manipulation without being dishonest themselves. Secondly, they learn how to defend against such things in a safe and controlled environment.
Think about games like Stratego and Risk – they’re excellent examples of strategic thinking that could potentially involve sneaky or underhanded strategies.
But, strategic thinking is also a legitimate use of the mind in business and in your child’s future personal life. Being able to outthink others is an inherent competitive advantage.
Actions Have Consequences
Games teach children that actions have consequences. When you make a move in Chess, for example, you could be putting other pieces at risk and lose the game. In nearly every game, there is a competitive element creating a single winner and one or more losers. And, it’s a player’s actions that cause them to win or lose.
That direct causal link is important for children to learn.
Ah yes, teamwork. Games teach this in a very subtle way. And, while not all games do this or do it particularly well, some games do. Specifically, team-centric games are good for team building skills. Let your children sort of figure out the negotiation and teamwork skills on their own. If you start the game fighting over who gets to be the red character, you’re doing it wrong.
How To Get Started
Getting started is simple – really simple. Set one night of the week and designate it as family game night. You could start tonight. Break out some old games and teach your kids how to play them.
Then, increase the number of game nights until you’re playing all or most nights of the week.
Brandon Baxter is a family man. A Dad of 2 kids of his own plus 3 step-children, all under the age of 14, he loves spending time with the family. A keen writer, he blogs in his spare time, mostly focusing on family life, a topic close to his heart.