I am the child of the ’80s. We grew up with Doordarshan, endless time outdoors, starry nights and playing board games. Carrom board, Ludo, Snakes and Ladders and Chess were the must-haves in every child’s cabinet. Summer holidays were the best as cousins, aunts and uncles joined in the board games fun. I still cherish those fun childhood memories. I believed these board games were for fun until I had my children and realised that playing these games help in child development.
So our generation grew up with Snakes & Ladders and Ludo but with the invention of smartphones and the internet, we got sucked into the virtual world. Innovative games and attractive imagery were too tempting to give up.
Either no one bothered buying board games
the ones we had collected dust in the toy cabinet. Remember all the board games we received on our child’s birthday party?
These game boxes then got re-gifted or sent for donations because they were of no use anymore.
Along came Instagram and Social media influencers. They made board games cool again. Families, teenagers are now seen playing Monopoly, Ludo etc all over the internet.
Game nights have become a regular thing now.
Board Games are fun and entertaining – Yes. But they are contributing to your child’s mental and emotional development.
How Board Games contribute to child development
Playing board games works on a child’s emotional, social, cognitive skills.
- It teaches them how to interact with others.
- Improves Memory – for example, remembering the rules of the game and applying at the right places.
- Creative skills – for example, creating new designs out of Lego.
- Maths skills – for example, simple addition, patterns etc.
- Decision Making – for example, which goti to hold and which one to move while playing ludo.
- Improves Focus – for example, the ability to sit for a certain duration and focusing on the game.
- Increases Vocabulary – for example playing Scrabble or Pictionary helps the child learn new English words.
These are some of the benefits of playing board games.
In this blog, I have divided some of the board games in 5 categories
- Family Bonding
1. Strategy Board Games
It is good for the human brain. It improves memory and increases focus. Chess teaches children the consequences of their actions as well.
There is no right age to start playing Chess. Although the sooner children start playing it the better it is.
My son who never showed interest in playing cards before 11 years of age (and I never forced him to play) comes back from his school trip and INSISTS that we buy UNO cards.
It was the ultimate time-pass on their train journey to their campsite.
Little did these children know that playing Uno were teaching them how to strategically place and use the cards for their benefit.
Other areas of child development Uno cards cover are improving memory, social skills, following rules and if played fair – the art of losing gracefully.
The right age to play Uno cards is 5+ years.
It is a game of strategy, memory and maths skills contributing to a child’s mental development.
Children learn strategy by deciding how not to get their ship hit and it’s placement, and how to sink other ships before others sink theirs.
Gain an understanding of rows and columns.
Children aged 7 and above can play this board game.
My first Connect4 board was given to me by my aunt. As a child, I loved playing it with my sibling and cousins.
To prevent us from playing outside and getting hit by the Loo (an extremely hot summer wind). Connect4 was a perfect distraction created by my mother to keep us indoors.
So playing Connect4 is not just a distraction but an excellent strategy game as the player has to drop the coins to form rows of 4 horizontally, vertically and diagonally. They also have to stop the other player by strategically placing their coins.
Let me share some Connect4 Trivia
– The player who gets the first turn in Connect4 is more likely to win the game.
– Connect4 grid has 4,531,985,219,092 possible positions.
A 1-year old can play this game as it develops a child’s fine motor skills.
2. Board Games that improve Creativity
a. Jigsaw Puzzles
The year 2020 took a turn that generations did not expect to see. I am talking about Covid-19. The world came to a standstill.
What kept our families and children entertained were Jigsaw puzzles. So much so that our life saviour Amazon online shopping went out of stock of these puzzles (at least the good ones were gone).
What a strange year with even stranger experiences.
Here’s how jigsaw puzzles help in a child’s creative development
Seeing the puzzle pieces the child’s mind (left and right brain both) engages in imagination. Visualising the picture on the box cover and imagining where would the pieces fit.
What is the right age for playing jigsaw puzzles?
It is an excellent fine motor development exercise for toddlers and above. The parent can choose age-appropriate puzzles as the child grows in age.
When my son was 4-year-old all he wanted was the board game Mechanix. We started with the plastic set and graduated to the metal Mechanix as my son grew older.
Playing Mechanix enhances your child’s creativity and motor skills.
Mechanix and other such construction toys/ blocks let the child be creative.
The child can create any structure or object without restricting themselves to the booklet provided with the game.
When your child uses the screwdriver, spanner and puts the pieces of the board game together, they are working their small muscles (fingers, arm etc). Thereby improving fine motor skills and dexterity.
It is appropriate for ages 3 and above.
Lego is the ultimate “Foot-stabber”. All the mothers of young children will know what I am talking about.
You never know where that Lego-piece will appear and you will end up stepping on it. Followed by peels of pain.
Jokes apart, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Playing with Lego (construction blocks) ticks many child developmental areas.
The Lego box recommends 3+ years but it’s purely because the pieces are small. The child might put them in their mouth.
If your child is young, then you can choose thicker and bigger construction blocks suited for their age.
Vocabulary enhancing Board Games
An excellent language development game, this also encourages the child to focus for long hours on the game itself.
A good vocabulary means that you can read better. Write better as you are not struggling to memorise the spellings. It also improves your child’s speaking skills and needless to say, give them more confidence.
You can choose the age-appropriate Scrabble version for your child.
The child has to guess the word thereby developing the child’s vocabulary.
Children of ages 5 and above can play this board game.
Board games that strengthen the family bond
a. Snakes & Ladders
This the most fun board game there is – according to my opinion obviously.
Ah, the sweet memories of my cousins, cheating to not get bit by the longest snake at the number 99.
As you can tell, more than the game it’s the childhood memories of spending time with cousins and family makes it special for me.
We all know how important family time is for a child’s social, mental and emotional development.
The best part about Snakes & ladders is that this board game doesn’t have too many complicated rules. A child who recognises numbers can also play this game.
Playing Ludo builds the child’s Maths skills – Yes.
But most importantly it contributes to their social development.
I know you won’t ask why because each one of us remembers the fights we had with our family because someone cut another person’s ‘Goti’.
Or someone sulking because they were about to reach ‘home’ just when dad came and cut the ‘Goti’.
As soon as the fights and anger vanished we were back to playing Ludo again. Filling our memory banks with sweet memories of our family members.
Again, as soon as the child can recognise numbers they can play this game.
And trust me, online Ludo doesn’t match up to the fun of actual hardboard game.
If you have not played this game, then basically it is a game where you have to set up a place to have a picnic and gather food for your picnic basket.
Whoever sets it up first – wins.
How does this Board Game help in family bonding?
In addition to creating and strengthening a strong bond with the family.
Playing a board game with the members of the household teaches children how to wait for their turn, and share graciously with everyone.
Playing such board games brings the family together.
Appropriate age to play this game is 5+ years.
Games that improve Money managing skills
Finances and money management are such big words for me till date (judge me all you want).
Only if I had discovered the game of Monopoly early in my childhood.
Monopoly is basically a game where the more real estate you acquire the more you earn. It’s a widely popular game so you must be aware of what the game is about.
What does Monopoly teach children?
It teaches children about money and how to use it, which is a very important life skill. It also builds a child’s maths skills and decision-making abilities.
The right age to teach children this Board Game is 5+ years (Junior version).
Focus enhancing Boardgames
Carrom is one of the games that are played on various international forums. It is seen in many corporate level gaming rooms as well.
Ever wonder why?
Playing Carrom enhances focus.
The player has to concentrate on the disc they have to strike. It also improves hand-eye coordination, in this fast-paced world where everything is available at the click of a button.
Children use super fast internet with so much visual stimulation. It has become increasingly difficult to focus on one specific task.
Increased focus means that the child will be able to focus better in the classroom and during study time.
A child as little as 5 to 6 years of age can play Carrom.
b. Dart Board
“Ha! Bullseye!”, screamed Rohit.
Everyone around him clapped.
No, he did not point his finger at a Bull’s eye. He hit the coveted spot on the dartboard – the bullseye.
It is not easy to hit, I think you’ll agree.
It needs focus, concentration, hand-eye coordination and discipline, the skills we want our children to imbibe.
Let’s give them the opportunity to play darts at least once every week.
Better still, have a dart game night – where the family gets together for an hour.
Imagine the important life skills you will be teaching your child through fun and games.
Every board game has a different purpose. They teach important skills that contribute to a child’s development.
Isn’t it wonderful that we can learn important life lessons and skills through games?
What is your favourite memory of playing board games? Do share with us in the comment section below.