When kids start complaining of boredom, it’s often easy to set them in front of the television. They may not be actively learning anything, but at least their attention is on something besides whining for a few hours—and if they’re playing video games, they might well be interacting positively together instead of arguing with one another (at least for a little while). Even a movie guarantees Mom a little bit of quiet time.
Unfortunately, with all the research out there on the negative effects of television on kids (not to mention the fact that you can only listen to the music from their favorite movie so many times before it drives you up a wall), sooner or later, you have to do something different.
Enter the board games. Board games have plenty of advantages over video games. Sure, they’re a bit messier—more setup, more cleanup, and more small pieces to lose—and they may require more parental involvement. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Board games promote quick thinking.
Of course, this isn’t the case for all of them—but if your daughter is spending two hours playing “Pretty, Pretty Princess” with her friends, that’s not something to argue about, either! Games like Trivial Pursuit or even Scene It! (oh, wait—that’s back to the television. Hm….) encourage thinking on your feet, learning trivia, and other valuable skills that can be translated to life skills.
Board games promote creative thinking.
Games like Cranium can encourage hours of fun and creativity from all participants. Where else do you get to see your kids act, draw, and sculpt, as well as acting to improve their spelling skills and learning random trivia, all in the space of a few minutes? Obviously, Cranium is more appropriate for older children; however, there are several variations of the game designed for little ones, too. Apples to Apples is also a popular game that promotes some creativity as kids try to come up with connections for their cards. Bonus: both of these games are likely to result in plenty of giggles!
Board games promote strategic thinking.
Chess. Checkers. Most card games. Battleship. All of these encourage children to think ahead, consider what they’re doing, and measure their opponent. Some of them can be played without grownup supervision—chess and checkers are both two-person games—but it might do well for Mom or Dad to be on hand to argue over simple rules violations.
Board games promote positive interaction.
It’s hard to be angry with one another when you’re giggling over the latest Cranium drawing, or discussing the finer points of a game’s strategy. Put your kids on the same “team” and watch them work together more effectively than anything you’ve ever seen before, or pit them against each other, set some ground rules for healthy competition, and watch them get some real enjoyment out of beating one another. Whatever you decide, keep an eye on them to make sure that they keep it friendly.
Board games promote learning.
Games like Scrabble and Boggle are excellent for a reluctant or slow speller, especially if Mom or Dad joins in. As they watch their parents or older siblings and see how they accomplish something, kids are much more likely to learn as they go—and without resenting it! Monopoly teaches basic math skills. Trivia games help improve reading, including reading aloud. All of these are valuable school skills—and most of them are available right in your game cabinet.