Make no mistake. I love my iPad. I love the versatility that the apps give me. I love the engagement that it offers for kids. I love how cool they think I am because I use my iPad in therapy (yes I still gauge myself on how cool the kids think I am). 😛
BUT, there is no substitution for the clunk of a piece as it falls into the slot when playing Connect 4, or the rattle and rush of the marbles as they get eaten by Hungry Hippos, or the piles of play-money in your hand when playing Monopoly. Or simply the feel of the dice as they roll off your hands onto the board.
A while back, I wrote a post on why you should buy an iPad for your child. I still think you should, but here’s why you should never pack away the board games forever.
Research shows that teaching social skills in the early years is crucial for helping children stay out of trouble well into their adult lives. Board games are designed around players following the same instruction and competing to win. This develops the social skills that children need to function not only in an academic setting but also in life.
- Defining rules and boundaries
- Interaction with others
- Winning and losing
Face to face interaction
Board games can provide rich face to face interaction that cannot be replicated when sitting in front of a screen. Children need to learn to be able to recognize and interpret non-verbal communication cues. These include, eye-contact, facial expressions, emotions, vocal tone and gestures.
Face-to-face interaction builds physical and emotional connectivity. This encourages children to communicate and initiate conversation. It also lets them know that you are interested in what they say and do.
Developing Critical Thinking Skills
People become better problem-solvers when they are asked to explain how or why a solution is correct. Using games such as chess, Mastermind or Rush Hour among others, is a great way to develop these skills. It is important to note that merely playing the game without encouraging the child to explain will not facilitate the development of skills. In fact, children who play by trial and error without being encouraged to think about the skills, may become disillusioned and give up on the game. Teaching children to think and plan will develop these skills. Therefore it is important to encourage your child to explain reasoning and thought processes behind their thinking.
Just reading and understanding the rules of a game is an important comprehension skill.
Using board games to facilitate language learning is effective because the context reduces communication anxiety.
Board games can foster the ability to focus, and lengthen your child’s attention span by encouraging the completion of an exciting, enjoyable game.
Learning through games works because they are enjoyable and interactive. Games are the architecture for engagement and engagement is what promotes learning.