The wonderful value of playing board games with your child!

“The playing adult steps sideward into another reality; the playing child advances forward to new stages of mastery” – Erik E. Erikson

The value of board games

Board games are a wonderful way to connect with your child, have family time, and foster bonds between family members. It is a brilliant way for adults to destress and step into an alternate reality, but it also assists your child to develop in many areas. Board games encourage quality time that does not involve time spent glued to a screen. Many view board games as a fun activity to be used only when the chores and homework are done. What many don’t realise is that a board game has many educational benefits for your child!

Physical benefits

Physically a board game can develop dexterity, fine motor skills, and spatial abilities. By handling the pieces, the dice, or moving a jenga block we are developing the small muscles in the hands and fingers, that are responsible for a child’s ability to write quickly and neatly, tie a shoelace, paint, etc. Hand eye coordination is developed, as your child is often expected to make use of both their visual and motor skills simultaneously during the course of a game.  Visual processing is also developed in many games, as it encourages your child to process what they are seeing accurately and quickly. This is a fundamental skill behind letter, word, and number recognition. Games such as Uno, snap, and other card games, are some games that can develop this skill.

Concentration and impulse control

Board games also develop concentration and impulse control. A child is expected to sit still and focus on one activity until completion for a set period of time. This encourages your child’s concentration abilities to be developed. Furthermore, a child is expected to wait their turn, and in many games they are required to work with care in order to succeed, such as pick up sticks, jenga or tumbling monkeys. All of these tasks encourage impulse control, with natural consequences if they choose to act impulsively.

Social skills

Social skills are enhanced through the playing of board games. We learn to take turns, share, enjoy the company of others, be patient, play as a team, and be a good sportsman if we lose. A child learns great values by witnessing their parents lose a game, and still having fun. Alternatively experiencing how it feels to both win and lose, and how to react, is also learned in a practical way. A game is also played with set rules, boundaries and expectations, without which the game would not be fun. It encourages your child to try various strategies and approaches, but within predetermined limits. These basic skills can all be applied to life outside of board games.


Communication and verbal ability is also encouraged when playing games. Naturally we engage in conversation, by both expressing ourselves, and making use of our receptive abilities and listening to others. Games such as Headsup and 30 seconds junior are some ideas of games that specifically develop communication and language development, as they have to explain and describe various objects, ideas, people or places. Certain games also require the child to follow instructions, such as twister or mouse trap. If the child does not listen or read carefully and acts impulsively they will not make the correct move. It is not just certain games that develop language. Through simply conversing with your child, you are naturally developing their vocabulary, general knowledge, and sentence construction.

Cognitive and academic skills

Many academic and cognitive skills are also developed through various board games. Identification of colours, shapes, and numbers are required on certain games, which are prerequisite skills for school readiness. Games such an Uno or other card games require the identification of numbers and colours. Many games require that you count out a set number of spaces, based on the dice that has been rolled. Grouping, counting, problem solving, and creating strategies are often involved in many games. Your child has to develop strategies, for example, when choosing which block to remove in a jenga tower, or which stick to attempt to pick up in a game of pick up sticks. Chess is a wonderful game to specifically develop strategy formation skills. Certain games require letter or word recognition and reading, yet this is done in a fun way. Often the child does not even realise they are practising their basic reading skills. I spy can be played anytime and anywhere, which helps your child with sound-letter relationships. Games such as monopoly, trivial pursuit junior, or top trump cards are some ideas of games that can require reading. Through playing games such as these your child is able to experience the value of being able to read in day to day life. Spelling and vocabulary skills are built on with games such as Scrabble or Bananagrams. Memory games or games such as snap encourage memory abilities to be developed, as you need to concentrate and remember what you have just seen, while considering your cards. Logical and critical thinking, as well as reasoning are also often required, and therefore overall cognitive development is encouraged. A child is also expected at times to make tough choices, consider the consequences of such actions, and the long term effects. In a card games for example, your child has to decide whether to play certain cards, and therefore has to weigh up the risks and potential benefits. They then have to handle to the consequences that come about as a result of this choice. All of these skills can be applied to real life.

The challenge

Naturally, a child learns through play. Ensuring that we make time in our busy schedules is a difficulty many parents experience. My challenge to all reading this post is to schedule a weekly family game time. By allocating a designated half an hour once a week, at a set time, we are more likely to follow through, and therefore form a family routine. Try this for a few weeks, and start to notice how such simple games can have such wonderful effects. Effects you maybe hadn’t always been aware of! Your child isn’t going to look back one day and have memories of the movies they watched, or the games they played on the ipad as a child… Laughing, chatting and making memories as a family through quality time, those will be the moments they remember.

Leave a Comment