Playing board games is an excellent and easy way to teach your child many new skills. Both social and educational skills can be learned through play in a manner that is enjoyable for all involved. New skills and concepts can be mastered in a competitive and easy way.
The fact that families can play together teaches important social skills such as, following rules, communicating verbally, sharing, waiting, taking turns and learning how to win and lose gracefully. There are also intellectual benefits to playing board games as children learn how to detect patterns, plan ahead, predict the outcome of alternative moves and learn from experience. As the child has to focus on the board game, this in turn helps to improve the child’s attention span and working memory.
Zingo Sight Words: (Think Fun Company) age 6+, €19.95 (Cogs the Brain Shop)
This bingo style matching game relies on a players ability to recognise sight words. Players learn to quickly read these important, commonly used words. The interactive ‘Zinger’ machine lets your child slide the dispenser to release two word tiles, recognise and read the words, then see if the words match the squares on their word card. The first player to fill all of the squares on their card is the winner.
Scrabble Junior: (Milton Bradley) age 5+, €25.99 (Smyths)
This is the younger version of the very educational and challenging game Scrabble. Using large yellow letter tiles players can chose which side of the board to play on. Younger players can use the side where words are already written and older children can use the reverse side with the open grid to create their own words.
Brainbox ABC: (The Green Board Game Co.) 4+, €14.95 (Cogs the Brain Shop)
This is a great game for children learning the alphabet as well as the more common letter blends. The aim of the game is to study the card for 10 seconds and then answer a question based on the roll of a die. If the question is answered correctly, the card is kept, and the person with the most number of cards after 5-10 minutes is the winner.
Monopoly Junior: (Parker Brothers) 5+, €14.99 (Smyths)
As they do in the older version of Monopoly, players chose which character token to play with and roll a die to race around the board buying property. When they buy the chosen property such as the ice cream parlour and toy shop they put a sold sign on their property. The game is shorter than the traditional one and uses smaller sums of money, which helps to develop reasoning and maths skills.
Alphabet Lotto: (Orchard Toys) 3+, €12.99 (Smyths)
This game is for the younger child learning phonics and letter recognition. Each player takes a lotto board, the players must decide whether to play with the letter or picture side of the board. All of the letter or picture cards are placed face down on the table. When the player takes their turn, if the card they have chosen matches one of the pictures/letters on their board, they cover it with the card. The winner is the first person to cover all spaces on their board.
Don’t let the child always play with a partner who will continuously win, they will become bored, frustrated and reluctant to engage in playing a game. It is no harm to bend the rules now and then to give them the confidence to succeed and win. It is also important to let them lose now and then to keep their competitive spirit wanting to play. Strike a good balance and hours of fun will be had by all. They may never remember the television programme they watched over the holidays but they will remember the family sitting around a board game having fun.