by Jan Pierce
Games enhance academic skills and social and emotional development. The Top 5 reasons to play:
During a board game, a number of skills are tested and honed. Players need to help set up the game and learn the rules. They must agree to abide by the rules and stick with the game until the end. They have to wait their turn and interact with other players in a positive manner. And, most challenging of all, they need to be able to lose the game without negative behaviors or win graciously.
The simplest math board games will involve matching of pictures and numbers. They’ll teach the skill of counting spaces while moving a board piece. Then games can move on to number recognition, shape and color recognition, and sequencing. Later math board games will require operations skills – addition, subtraction, detecting patterns, analyzing probability, planning short and long-term strategies and logic.
Many word games begin with simple skills such as matching, sequencing and building simple words. Letter and word recognition skills grow as children play. They must read directions to play games and be able to refer to written rules along the way. New vocabulary words will be introduced and mastered. Visual perception skills are enhanced and eye-hand dexterity builds with manipulation of game pieces. Word-building games such as scrabble reinforce knowledge of the structure of words.
A side-effect of board games is a gradual awareness of the consequences of our decisions. In games, much is accounted for by sheer luck, but as difficulty levels increase, the player increasingly needs to make good decisions. A mistake can mean a loss. Cause and effect thinking and probabilities must be considered. The player must balance risk vs. reward. Tough decisions must be made in real life, and games are a safe place to practice making them.
In our fast-paced lives, we have to be intentional about finding family time. In addition to building social and educational skills, board games offer time to laugh, chatter and simply enjoy being together.