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  • Writer's pictureDr. V.S. Gayathri

How Board Games Can Foster Learning in Kids!

“Let them play! The more they play, the more resilient and socially adept they will become.”


We all know about the importance of playtime and how it helps children learn in their growth and development phases. Among different types of plays that kids engage in, board games play an important role in both a fun and educative manner. For example, social scientists have argued that games teach lessons about getting along with others.


Board Games provide an opportunity for early learning. Simple board games can help toddlers identify different colors, count spaces, develop hand and mind coordination, moving piles around the board etc., whereas they grow up they can enjoy learning with intermediate and complex board games.


We have all grown up playing different types of board games – some traditional, some classic, now new-age. Even if we don’t realize, they have truly helped us learn various life skills like time management, critical thinking, taking turns, problem-solving, etc.


 

Let us take a look at some of the ways board games foster learning and why they are so crucial. 


1.     Helps to develop critical social skills: Board games involve various social skills including cooperation, turn-taking, and other prosocial behaviours. Research in preschool children has found that both competitive and cooperative board and card games increased prosocial behaviours such as sharing and complimenting or helping others.


2.     Promotes lesser screen time: Board games can be a good way to keep away children from the negative effects of excessive screen time. Whether they play individually, or with family and friends, it can engage them for a long time.


3.     Improves cognitive function: Board games can help develop number knowledge, arithmetic skills, and development of abstract numerical concepts. Many games require spontaneous speech, reading, or writing which can be used as a tool for continuing language development. Board games also require using frontal brain functions such as planning, problem-solving, decision-making, and inhibiting responses. Hence, it helps to develop critical thinking and time-management skills.


4.     Fosters family time and bonding: Structuring family activities with different age-appropriate board games can help improve a child’s mood and sleep quality, and help foster feelings of connectedness among family members. It helps them to enjoy quality family time adding to their mental wellness and well-being.


5. Helps children with learning difficulties interpret better: Often, children with different learning difficulties can understand and interpret things better via various board games as they have a better visual appeal. There is some evidence to support the use of abstract strategy games such as Chess or Go in improving attention in children with ADHD by activating this frontal brain region. 


For example, the game of Clue can be used as a tool to teach deductive logic, while the game of Mastermind has been used to test the aptitude of college students.


Here’s something interesting: When researcher David Reid watched 2nd graders play Mastermind and Connect Four in the classroom, he noticed that kids never asked each other to explain their reasoning–even when they were teammates making suggestions to each other. The teacher played a crucial role. She was the only person asking players to explain their choices (Reid 2002).


So, as a parent or teacher, it is not enough to just encourage them to play or play with them but also to probe them about their moves and strategies that in turn will boost their learning.

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