Hot Topics     Home and Family     Family Fun    

Five good reasons to play board games with your children



From toddlers to adults, board games are a teaching moment

From toddlers to adults board games are a teaching moment


My parents taught my brother and me to play Monopoly and then spent the next five years finding excuses not to play the game. After all, it takes a lot of time and patience to play board games with children. They forget the rules, they may cry when they lose and sometimes they try to cheat. My brother was famous for hiding a stash of money and triumphantly uncovering it when on the verge of bankruptcy. I’m still not sure he wasn’t stealing from the bank.

But there are good reasons for introducing board games to children when they’re very young and continuing to play increasingly more complex games as they’re ready for them. There are benefits gained in both academic skills and in social and emotional development.

Here are five good reasons to play board games with your children:

1. Basic Civility and Manners

During the life of a board game there are a number of skills that are tested and honed. Players need to help set up the game and learn the rules. They have to agree to abide by the rules and stick with the game until the end. They have to wait their turn and interact with the other players in a positive manner. And, probably most challenging of all, they need to be able to lose the game without negative behaviors or win graciously.

That’s actually a lot to expect from children. Younger children playing with older siblings or friends often feel incompetent and outnumbered. Some children have a much lower tolerance for losing and have to struggle with their emotions—anger, feelings of failure and embarrassment. Good sportsmanship is a necessary life skill and playing board games helps develop it.

Some of the more intangible skills gained by playing games are focusing attention and developing a longer attention span, communicating clearly, waiting while others play, and managing frustration when bad luck hits. For some children these are tough assignments. If your child tends to get red in the face or cry when losing, such games provide practice in much-needed self-management.

Parents and older siblings can model good game-playing behaviors. Another way to soften the experience for younger children is to play in teams. It’s important to choose games that are age-appropriate or provide support for the younger members.

READ MORE: Buy a new game for holiday fun

2. Math Skills

The simplest math board games will teach matching of pictures and numbers. They’ll teach the skill of counting spaces while moving a board piece. Then they’ll 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.

Most math games require organization of objects, sorting by likes or differences, some will require skill in spatial relationships. Many require prediction skills.

3. Reading and Language Skills

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, spelling skill and manipulation of patterns found in words such as rhymes, prefixes and suffixes, root words and encourage thought about the meaning of words.

READ MORE: Board games are back

4. Decision Making

A side-effect of enjoying board games is a gradual awareness of the consequences of our decisions and choices. In games, much is accounted for by sheer luck, but as difficulty levels increase, the player increasingly needs to make good decisions at the appropriate times. A mistake can mean a loss. Cause and effect thinking comes into play, probabilities must be considered. The player must balance risk vs. reward. Tough decisions must be made in life—games are a safe place to practice making them. Parents can help guide these learning experiences by asking questions such as “Why did you make that decision? Did it work?” Reflection on past decisions is a great way to improve logic and future choices.

5. Quality Family Time/Fun

In our fast-paced lives, we have to be intentional about making room for family time. While movies and other online games clamor for our free time, there is something to be said for quieter, unplugged family time. Board games offer a space of time in which to laugh, chatter with one another and simply enjoy being together.

There are literally thousands of board games on the market, beginning with games appropriate for toddlers and building in difficulty levels to challenge the brightest adults.

Jan Pierce, M.Ed., is a retired teacher and freelance writer. She is the author of "Homegrown Readers and Homegrown Family Fun". Find Jan at www.janpierce.net



Other articles by HVP News Reporters


  • View eagles in Mongaup

    Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area designated a Bird Conservation Area

    Mongaup was designated a Bird Conservation Area because of its unique combination of habitats important to bird species. read more »
  • Hike Smart & Be Prepared

    Safety tips for getting out in the winter months

    NYS DEC offers tips to keep you and your family safe while enjoying the outdoors this winter. read more »
  • Hudson Highlands Nature Museum’s Homeschool Naturalist Program

    Adventure Awaits Students Ages 6-9

    The Hudson Highlands Nature Museum’s Homeschool Naturalist Program for children ages 6-9 has quickly become one of the Nature Museum’s most beloved programs. Originally created out of the needs of families undertaking distance/learning, the program has proved so popular it has remained in place by demand. read more »
  • 5 ways parents can get prepared for student loan repayments

    Tips to help you survive student loan payments

    If you’re a parent who took out a federal student loan for your child and you’ve been taking advantage of the payment freeze as part of the COVID-19 emergency relief, then things are about to change. Starting January 31, 2022, payments will resume and no further extensions are expected. read more »
  • STEAM learning toys for your little ones

    Young kids have fun while learning letters and numbers

    Edx Education teaches letters and numbers through hands-on play read more »
  • DCP offers tips to help New Yorkers stay safe and warm

    NYS Division of Consumer Protection warns New Yorkers of carbon monoxide and fire hazards during extreme cold weather

    The New York State Division of Consumer Protection today issued a consumer alert about the dangers of carbon monoxide and fire hazards in extreme cold weather. The winter months pose the most risk for these hazards—as the temperatures drop, consumers may turn to dangerous heating alternatives to stay warm. Propane heaters, generators, space heaters and/or outdoor grills all pose lethal risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire hazards when used improperly. read more »
  • New gardening series with Newburgh Free Library

    Learn about herbs, microgreens, seeds, planning and planting

    Newburgh Free Library has a new gardening series starting with NUFFI, or Newburgh Urban Farm and Food, starting in February! read more »
  • Get up to 4 free at-home Covid-19 tests for your family

    The Biden Administration to Begin Distributing At-Home, Rapid COVID-19 Tests

    The Biden Administration is Buying One Billion Tests to Give to Americans for Free; Online Ordering of a Half-Billion Tests Begins on January 19th; Builds on Significant Actions to Expand Testing Capacity and Increase Access to Free Testing read more »
  • New York’s Going Foam Free in 2022

    NYS is working to keep our environment safe

    In 2020, New York State adopted the nation's strongest statewide ban of expanded polystyrene, single-use foam food and beverage containers, and polystyrene loose fill packaging materials, commonly known as packing peanuts. read more »
  • Maple Sugaring is coming to the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum

    Enjoy Maple Sugar, Sugar Bush or Maple Lane tour with your kids

    As winter winds down, it’s maple sugaring time! Learn how to identify and tap sugar maple trees, discover sugaring techniques used by Native Americans, pioneers and modern-day farmers, and see an evaporator in action! read more »