Learning on Game Night: Life Lessons for Players 2 and Up

When your children are born you want what’s best for them. You get the perfect crib and car seat. You researched all the best strollers. But once your children begin walking and talking, helping them to develop into independent thinkers becomes more challenging. 

One of the best ways to help is by playing games. By taking the time to sit down for 20 minutes a day to play a game, your children will benefit both academically and socially. Best of all, you’ll be spending quality time together and showing them that fun doesn’t always involve a screen. 

Here are some important lessons kids learn simply from playing:

Sportsmanship is important

When your children are young, it’s perfectly ok to let them win. It’s ok to get excited and celebrate their success. It’s ok for you to lose (make sure to make that apparent!). And as your children start Kindergarten, it’s ok for them to lose! 

Children need to learn good sportsmanship when they win AND when they lose. Teach them to shake hands and say, “good game,” no matter the outcome. Show them that simply playing is the fun part, not the winning – even though that’s certainly nice. Model for them what being a gracious winner and loser looks like.  Teaching them how to try their best but to accept a loss is an important skill that can carry over as they play sports and begin to make friendships that can last a lifetime.

Wait your turn

Young children are learning that there are people in the world besides themselves, which is a normal part of development.  Learning how to take turns reminds them of this fact, and is an important skill to learn before starting school. If you always let your children go first and always let them pick what they want, it will be harder for them once other children are around.  After all, they won’t always get to go first or have their own way when school starts.

Follow the rules

Following rules is an important skill to have all through life. Games provide little ones with a safe setting where they learn that there are rules that need to be followed and that there are some consequences when they are not – yet another important skill to have for starting school. School is all about following rules and directions. The more chances you give your child to learn to be a good listener, the better they’ll be able to transfer that knowledge to the school setting.

This might also be a chance to show your child it’s ok to make mistakes. If you misunderstood the rules and the gameplay isn’t going like it should, it’s a chance to show your child that mistakes happen and that when we do, our only job at that point is to fix them. Plus, playing games lends itself well to a conversation about cheating and fairness.

Get the academics down

While playing a game, children are learning without realizing it, since they’re having fun. Chances are they’re practicing counting, vocabulary, sequencing, and some strategy and there are plenty of wonderful educational board games to help learn language skills, cooperation, and math. And of course, there’s lots of reasoning and strategy involved in most games. 

Whether you’re playing Candyland or Hearts, you can ask your children about their strategy and why they want a particular card or outcome. You can share your strategy as well to help show them a different way to play that gives them something to think about.

Family time is fun

Most importantly, by playing games with your children, you get a chance to spend some quality time with them.  A deck of playing cards is a great place to start since there are so many games that can be played and the games can change as your child grows. 

Starting with something like Go Fish or War can progress to a more challenging game like Gin or Bridge. Board games are great as well but can start to get expensive. A game exchange with some friends would be great. You can all buy a different game and then rotate them so you get a variety of games without needing to spend the money or use the storage space for all. 

Is game night a regular routine in your household . . . share your favorite games with us!

Tags : game night   life lessons   family   bonding   activities   playful learning   

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