With spring break upon us and the weather still a bit sporadic, many parents are finding themselves wondering how to occupy their child. There are of course many expensive things to do – movies, bowling, camps and lunches out. And some free family events. But often it is too dreary to go far.
I recommend board games. There are many benefits to playing board games with children. These include increased social-emotional development, fine motor skills, spatial awareness, cognitive skills, problem solving, and planning. The types of board games have increased from your typical Candy Land or Jr. Monopoly to a whole array of games.
The cheapest place to buy games is at thrift stores. With a bit of creativity, other items can often be used to replace broken or missing pieces. If the instructions are missing, you can look them up on https://boardgamegeek.com/ or make up your own rules.
Some of the benefits include:
- Social-emotional development – taking turns, responding when you’re losing or winning
- Fine motor skills – moving pieces around the board, building towers, or pulling sticks with a steady hand
- Spatial awareness – especially with games such as checkers, chess, or building games such as Jenga
- Cognitive skills – reading cards, counting dice, counting spaces, discussing rules
- Problem solving – what to do if your piece is moved back, what to buy and when
- Planning – what pieces to move, when to spend or save the play money
Some of my families favourite games include Ticket to Ride, Seven Wonders, Carcassonne, and Unstable Unicorns. When they were younger, they liked Too Many Monkeys, Oh Rats!, and Guess Who? If the game seems too difficult, it is okay to change the rules or make some up.
As a therapist of children and families, I have incorporated a variety of games into my sessions. There are lots of cooperative games, drawing or acting things out games, and games that you can make yourself.
The child can also make up their own board games. It only takes some paper, perhaps tokens, and a dice. They can make up rules, cards, and boards based upon their own interests and is bound to keep them very happy and busy. Imagine how excited to see the whole family playing a game they made up themselves.
The biggest benefit of games is that the entire family can play. Older children or parents can team up with younger players if necessary, and the rules can be modified as needed. Barefoot Books, Discovery Toys and the Mind Games storehave a greater selection than the department stores and some libraries even lend out board games.
Check them out! You won’t be disappointed.
(I am not compensated for any of the games or businesses listed.)