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Board Games Help Children Learn!

by : Rachel Gliss
posted on : 11/9/2015 5:58:42 AM

Have you ever seen your child shut down when trying to solve a puzzle or do something difficult? How about seeing your child struggle to recall basic math facts? Did you know that playing board games could improve your child’s learning?

Research shows that board games can greatly improve problem solving, memory retention, observation, and social skills in children. The best part - it’s fun! Children don’t even realize they are exercising their brain in the process!  Learning takes place while critical thinking skills are being developed.  

The ability to think critically has never been more important, especially with regard to Common Core.  Today's expectations go well beyond rote memorization of facts, and instead  focus on how children apply the problem solving skills they develop in the classroom environment.

Problem solving skills are enhanced by playing board games in numerous ways. For example, the board game
Sorry provides critical thinking and problem solving opportunities when a child chooses which of the four game pieces to move and strategizes which to keep safe. Mancala is another basic strategy game that utilizing critical thinking skills by moving gems into cups with the idea of capturing the most gems. The game is based on identifying and recognizing patterns with each turn and creating an action plan to capture the most gems.  Sometimes, the best strategy may be to prevent your opponent from capturing the gems.  

As a parent, it is recommended you ask your child to explain their strategy and for you to communicate other potential strategies in the game. By doing so, you promote creative thinking. Children who understand the game and know many different ways to win will certainly have an advantage when playing. Start with basic games like Checkers, Chutes and Ladders, and Connect 4.

Many board games can improve memory in children. Chess, Battleship, Memory, Uno, and Go Fish are all examples of board games which rely heavily on memorization. In each of these games, your child’s winning chances are greatly improved when they can recall various previous information on a consistent basis.

In addition to problem solving and memory retention, playing board games will also improve children’s observation skills when observing their own moves, their opponent’s moves, and implementing strategies within the game. More advanced skills they will eventually develop are: predicting outcomes of future turns, detecting patterns in opponent moves, and revising strategies toward finding winning outcomes.

Not only do board games improve cognitive skills, but they also can enhance social skills and promote family time. Your child will learn to follow rules and communicate in order to ensure fair play. They will also learn to read directions, understand directions, and implement the correct sequence of play amongst all players. Further, they will also learn patience as they wait for other players (or family members) to make their move and reflect on their own position and
strategy.

Not sure which game to choose? Here a several choices, as well as the direct benefit the game provides to its participants:

Scrabble Junior (Milton Bradley): This is the younger cousin of the tremendously educational and challenging Scrabble. Using large yellow letter tiles, players match letters to words already written on one side of the board. The reverse side has an open grid where older children can create their own words.
Learning highlights: Promotes literacy, language skills, critical thinking and problem solving skills.  

Boggle Junior (Parker Brothers): The prelude to Boggle, in which players link pictures to letters and words. The game comes with 6-sided letter cubes and numerous picture cards that have the name of the object spelled below. Players place a card on a blue tray and use 3- or 4-letter cubes to copy the item's spelling. Older children can hide the written words and spell the word just using the picture.
Learning highlights: Teaches letters, words, spelling, matching, and memory skills.

Monopoly Junior (Parker Brothers): Players roll the dice to move around the board and purchase real estate. The game is shorter than its senior counterpart and uses smaller dollar denominations so kids can figure out winnings and penalties more quickly.
Learning highlights: Develops mathematical thinking, color recognition, reading, reasoning, and social skills.

Chess: A strategic two player board game played on a checkered board. Each player starts the game with sixteen pieces (half pawns) which are moved and used to capture opposing pieces according to precise rules. The object is to put the opponent's king under direct attack from which escape is impossible - Checkmate!
Learning highlights: Fosters creativity, problem solving skills, concentration, pattern recognition, and implementation of multiple strategies.

As a parent, it is important to understand that board games, especially those based in strategy, can be a great tool to help your child grow. Game playing can be very fun, while keeping your children engaged in learning new skills. With increased problem solving expectations at school, game playing has never been more critical.  It is a very useful (and fun) resource that can help children of any age. So turn off the TV and electronics and dust off the board games for many nights of great family fun!

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Sunday, April 23, 2017







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