5 Reasons to Play Board Games with Your Children

In a world that is rapidly growing with technology, there remains a need for connection, which Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media sites can’t provide.

Face-to-face interaction

Study after study reveals the benefits of human interaction - improved communication, creative problem solving, better teamwork, and more! All of these benefits can be cultivated at home by regularly playing board games!

While there are several reasons to play board games with your kids, here are five that will hopefully exhibit why carving out time to spend with your children isn’t just about playing, but also shaping them as humans in this world.

Family Time

While the rest of this list is in no particular order of importance, Family Time is definitely the most significant of these reasons. There is no substitute for an intentional, scheduled, and purposeful time centered around your family, coming together and growing together. Sadly, there are thousands of families who try, but “family time” does not always live up to expectations. This is where board games come into play (pun intended). Board games at their core are just mediums for interaction. Every rule, artwork, card, tile, and color is designed to captivate and engage players to enter into the unique and creative world of the game. Keys to a successful game night with your family relies on:

  • Think of the children!

    • There might be some board games you grew up playing and would love to teach your kids, but there are also thousands of other board games available now. I am willing to bet that your children would love to play a game that has a theme of their favorite book, video game, or hobby rather than sit down and play scrabble for the 100th time. Use your game time to ask your children what they like or dislike in a game and learn what preferences they have for each game you play. You’ll be surprised at how much you may learn about your children!

  • Be prepared!

    • Once you have chosen a board game, DON’T WAIT TILL THE GAME TIME TO READ THE RULES! Yes, learning the rules of a board game is part of the experience, but for a scheduled family board game time it is more beneficial to teach and play the board game smoothly than to stumble back and forth between the game and rule book. Read the rules, watch a YouTube video, ask a friend that has the game, or play it by yourself if you can. The key to teaching a board game to your children is to be a guide not the “captain”. Let your children make decisions. Let them make mistakes. Give them options when they ask questions. Finally, don’t be afraid to instill “House Rules” if your children need a little help understanding the game.

  • Get out of your house (if possible).

    I mean this in two ways:

    • Go play a game in public. Yes, in public. Why? Because sometimes a change in scenery makes it even more fun. You can enhance the game experience by picking a game and place that have the same theme, such as playing New York Slice in a Pizzeria, Biblios in a library, or Photosynthesis in a park. Playing games in public guarantees interactions with new people - many who are interested in what you are playing. Don’t be afraid to ask them to join in on the next game!

    • Find a local hobby store that hosts game nights. Go out and meet other people. Why? Because you and your kids will grow by interacting with others. Your kids will find new friends who share common interests and you will find new games or new players for games you already play. Finally, you are supporting small businesses!

  • Personal development

This reason is similar to the next three, but deserves its own explanation. You and your kids have individual preferences in life, which naturally develop some skills and characteristics and ignore others. As the parent, you can use board games to introduce, engage, and develop various characteristics such as humbleness, patience, attitude, management, flexibility, honesty, and even loyalty, depending on which board games you play. For example, your child might develop a strategy early on in the game, but also develops a poor attitude when other players interfere with their strategy. This is a great teaching moment for you as a parent. Ultimately you develop as a parent simultaneously while your child develops with the help of your guidance and activity.

Suggested Games: Hanabi, Arkham Horror, Space Cadets Dice Duel

  • Social development

By their nature board games are social games with most games requiring at least two players and some form of interaction. Communication, story telling, turn-taking, rules, acting, teamwork, money management, time management, and role playing are just some of the game mechanics you’ll find which can translate to real life skills. Furthermore, co-op board games such as Pandemic or 5-Minute Dungeon, are great board game options that don’t require players to oppose each other, but rather work as a team to win or lose against the game.  Depending on what social skill you want your family to focus on, there is a board game for it, I promise! Regardless, every board game teaches one important lesson- learning how to win and lose.

Game Suggestions: Codenames, Dixit, Dungeons and Dragons

  • Education (not just for school)

Board games are also naturally educational and it's not a secret that kids learn in various styles. Your family board game time can help utilize many of those styles to engage and teach your children. In the future we will focus an entire blog post on this, but for now I’ll try to keep it short. Not only can you choose STEM board games that focus on many school subjects like biology, math, history, and English, but  there are many non-STEM board games that focus on specific topics such as the Underground Railroad, battles of WW2, presidential elections, cellular life and the periodic table of elements. If your kids are anything like I was in school, I couldn’t wait to leave class, but with the right board game your child may not even realize they are learning the same subjects they are taught in school. Long story short, board games are a great way to introduce your children to many subjects taught in class, but outside of class!

Game Suggestions: Cytosis, Paperback, Memoir 44

  • Learning to not give up (learning to lose)

I want to end with this important reason because this partly depends on you. Your attitude throughout the game impacts your kids! The great thing about this lesson is that it is not restricted to one type of game play. You can use your family board game time to play a cooperation game, a team vs team game, or an asymmetrical game - all of which players win or lose in different ways. Encouraging children to look for new strategies after they lose will teach them not to give up just because a game seems too hard. It will also train them to ask for help and guidance when it is needed! Remember - “Momma didn’t raise no quitter!”

Game suggestions: Forbidden Island, Santorini, Pandemic