There are plenty of very complex board games for adults, but there are just as many board games designed for children, which are simple and have clear lessons attached to them, either directly or indirectly. In this article, we will examine some of the benefits that can be derived from playing board games with your child, or having a Juggle Street babysitter engage in the activity with them.
Almost every board game will have the players display at least one core skill, such as literacy and numeracy. For example, Uno teaches numeracy and colour knowledge, through the 'matching' mechanic within the game. Monopoly teaches numeracy through money, and planning skills through the 'set' system, as well as the house and hotel feature. Whilst not a teaching replacement, studies suggest that board games can be a great supplement to more traditional teaching methods. Most relevantly, since board games are fun, your child can learn these skills and have fun at the same time, which is a clear win-win!
Playing games can teach a variety of social skills, such as sportsmanship and 'fair play'. Introducing the ideas of fairness and sharing at an early age can be incredibly valuable, and board games are a great way to achieve that. For example, studies have suggested that cooperative behaviours can be taught through the use of cooperative board games. Another example is that most board games operate under a turn-taking system, which is a vital skill for almost all social interactions, from the classroom to general speech patterns. Turn-taking is a skill that children often struggle with, so any tool to assist in teaching it is valuable.
'School focused' benefits and social skills are valuable, and even more general skills can also be taught through board games, through the sheer variety on offer. Operation is a family classic, that helps hone fine motor skills. Spacial awareness is a common theme in board games with pieces on the board, as players must track piece positions throughout the game to know who is winning. Or, maze based board games that more directly relate to spacial awareness. The list goes on and there's a good chance that if you think of a skill that you are keen to teach your child, or hone further, that there has been a board game made that focuses on it. Ask your Juggle Street babysitter if you're interested in learning about more board games, as they'll likely have further suggestions.
Many activities often struggle to include many people. Reading with your child for example will infrequently have more than two participants, one person reading and the other listening; further participants are hard to include because not everyone gets 'a turn'. Board games however will often scale very well, to a standard 4 players or more, depending on the game. This means that the entire family can frequently get involved, especially in families with more than 1 child. By getting everyone involved, it improves cohesion through the bonding opportunity that the game provides. This also makes board games great activities to suggest to your Juggle Street nanny when they are babysitting, as they will be able to easily incorporate any number of participants, given a sufficient game selection.
Board games are a fun way to introduce additional learning opportunities into the home. From more directly school related ideas like literacy and numeracy, to more general skills like turn taking and spacial awareness, the benefits are significant. Next time you book in your Juggle Street nanny, consider asking them to use board games as an activity, to reap the benefits of play based learning.