Now that my son is 5 we have started to buy board games to teach him important skills like turn taking, problem solving, motor and math skills. It is also a good way for our family to spend time together and have a bit of old-fashioned fun.
Our current favorite, Trouble, has been a hit for many reasons. First, we let our son pick his color and go first. He loves pressing the ‘popping gizmo’ and moving his pegs along the path. The principle is simple so it’s been easy for him to get the hang of how to play.
Our friends over at TimeToPlayMag.com have some great tips for making game night a success for families with children of all ages.
Games provide a focus for activity and a way to interact that is healthy for everyone, hopefully manages a few laughs and lets everyone relax and enjoy each other.
But like any good game, there are rules to be followed. Follow these, and you’ll be sure to have game night success.
- Make a Date. Make the date. Put it in your family calendar, in the mobile and anywhere else you need to. For better or worse, people are so scheduled now, that you have to plan to have fun. So be it. Make this date, and keep it as important as a business meeting, test or doctor’s appointment. It has a beginning time and an ending time.
- Plan the Time. Depending on the age of the kids, you may want to plan the amount of time carefully. For example, a game of “Monopoly” can be the entire evening, which is great for older kids. Younger kids may want games that can be played several times in the course of an evening.
- Make it Special. If you plan snacks or food, bear in mind the games you’re going to play and not create too much mess, but this is a good time to offer treats that you don’t usually serve in limited quantities, of course, so it feels like a family party. But you can invite others to join, too. Teens especially will like having a friend over to join the fun for a couple of hours and then go off and do their own things.
- Change it Up. Choose different games for each game night — strategy, chance, card games, even some skill and action games. Some people are better than others at different types of games, so you want to make sure that you pick a mix of games that appeal to the different skills and abilities of the players. You’ll also want to pick games that make kids stretch a bit — “Scrabble” is a good example of a game that helps stretch vocabularies and depending on the other players it can really encourage kids to build up their vocabularies so they can play better the next time.
- Talk it Up. Particularly with younger children, game play allows great opportunities to teach social lessons without a lot of pressure and in a relatively unstressed environment. For instance, games like “Chutes and Ladders” are all about luck, while games like “Clue” have some level of deductive reasoning and the appropriately named “The Game of Life” has elements of strategy and chance. Game time is a stress free time to learn some of these lessons in a context of fun. Learning to lose and win gracefully is an important life skill — as well as trying again when you lose.
- Team Up. Many games require teams. It’s good to mix them up. Younger kids with older kids, for instance, might improve chances in some games. But if you’re playing a game like “Scene It!” sometimes kids vs. adults will give the kids a real advantage — to say nothing of the pleasure of beating the parents.
- All Play. Alternatively, look for games that vary by the personalities of the players. For instance, the new card game “Ratuki,” “Picutreeka,” “Apples to Apples,” “Imaginiff,” and “Can You Name 5?” are games that get a lot of their entertainment value from the personalities of the players. That can be a lot of fun, while changing the nature of the competition.
- Go Beyond the Board. Game night needn’t be limited to board games. If you’ve got a video game system, there are many titles that have either co-play or competitive challenges, and there are also platform games — like Hasbro Family Game Night — that feature electronic versions of family favorites.
To get your family started TimeToPlayMag.com is offering one (1) Growing Your Baby Reader the opportunity to win a game night Prizepak which will include Hold On Scooby Doo, Pop Goes Froggio and Toy Story 3 Space Shooter!
Congratulations to our winner: Sandy