With all the time spent at home, board games are likely to have been played much more over the last 12 months.
Ellie Dix is a board game designer, author of the book The Board Game Family, host of The Game School on Teacher Hug Radio and owner of The Dark Imp, a board game publishing company, and she shares some of the many great benefits of playing games together.
1. Children can see their parents play
Playing should be a normal part of life: for adults and children. When you play board games the chores are put on hold for a while and you’re modelling that play is normal and healthy.
2. Children are presented with a model for appropriate behaviour
Parents who are humble in victory and cheerful in defeat demonstrate great sportsmanship. Regularly rejoicing in the good fortune or praising the clever choices of another player normalises these positive attitudes.
3. Playing board games helps children to learn from failure
Board games provide a platform for us to fail, over and over again. Here the stakes are low; it doesn’t matter if we lose. It’s normal to lose and that is liberating. As children become more comfortable with failing they start to learn from it.
4. Playing board games develops social skills
Board games give children an opportunity to learn how to take turns, practise patience, work as part of a team, negotiate with others, compromise, communicate ideas, take risks, follow rules and directions and manage restrictions.
5. Playing board games develops learning skills
Playing games improves memory formation and cognitive skills, increases processing speed, develops logic and reasoning skills, improves critical thinking, boosts spatial reasoning, improves verbal and communication skills, increases attention and concentration, teaches problem-solving, develops confidence and improves decision-making.
6. Children have an opportunity to be equal to parents
Families have inbuilt hierarchies. Parents mostly make the decisions for the rest of the family to follow. But all players are equal in a board game. A temporary balance is achieved and this can be liberating and exciting for children.
7. Board games create shared experiences
Good board games evoke all sorts of emotions; happiness, delight, tension, intrigue, awe, trust, anticipation, surprise. Our emotional reactions connect us to the game, the experience and the people we’re playing with.
8. Board games spark conversation
Carving out moments for doing things together, like playing board games, gives families a natural focus for conversation. Great experiences act as bookmarks in our mind, giving us memories to chat about time and time again.
9. Board games are inclusive
There is a huge variety of board games available. Anyone can play. All ages can play together. Many disabilities can also be catered for. The structure and rules of games appeal to many who find more free-flowing activities challenging.
10. There are both physical and mental health benefits
Game playing has proven health benefits as it induces laughter and reduces stress, boosting the immune system and lowering blood pressure. It’s good for adults too – people who play board games are less at risk of cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s.