The Importance of Playing Board Games with our Kids


playing board games with our kids

We love playing board games and card games with our kids. There are usually some tears and disgruntled players, but also lots of laughter and fun. As a child I loved playing board games with my parents. I have lots of fond memories of us playing Clue or Monopoly at our dining room table. As an only child my parents didn’t have to deal with all the sibling squabbles during games, but one of them always had to be willing to play with me. I wanted to create those family game night memories with my own kids. In addition to spending time together I see the importance of so many lessons my kids are learning by playing games together.

I have to be honest, I was much better at playing board games with my family, four kids ago. With lots of little ones I have found it harder to find the time or energy to do it, but once we play a game I am reminded how worthwhile it is.  Teaching your kids to play board games/card games does take time, patience and a sense of humor, but it is well worth the investment. We’ve developed a system where our older kids team up with littles to make the game generally run and so that everyone has fun.  It doesn’t always work, but it allows me to monitor and supervise while multitasking.  When it does work, this is when the magic of a big family really shines.

Here are some of the lessons/skills I see my kids learning while playing board games/card games:

  • Taking turns
  • Following directions
  • Learning a new game
  • Good Sportsmanship – Being a graceful winner or loser
  • Cooperation – Because there are so many of us, we often have to play on teams
  • Color, numbers, counting, and one-to-one correspondence for my younger kids
  • Concentration – Having to pay attention to what the players next to you are doing
  • Strategizing – Thinking about your next step or move in the game
  • Recognizing social cues and basic understanding of others emotions
  • Talking and laughing together with no electronic devices

When I introduce games to my younger kids, we start out simple. Memory is the first game we play. I keep it to 10-15 minutes and we work on learning/following the rules, having fun and being a good sport. At the end of a game I have my kids shake hands and say “good game”.

Our favorite games by age:

2-4 years old

5-7 years old

8 years old and up

In our busy schedule finding time to sit down and play games as a family has been hard. During the summer we play games in the afternoon while my little ones are napping. On vacation, we’ll play games when we take a break from the beach or in the evenings. We also play games during the winter time, especially on snow days. When our older kids have friends over they will often play board games and I love that they want to interact that way versus being on their smartphones.

What are your favorite games to play with your family? What lessons/skills do you see your kids learning through playing board games?

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Jane was born and raised in Wilmington, DE. She met her husband 20 years ago and settled in Fairfax, VA in 2004. Jane is an only child turned big family mom of 10 kids ages 15 to newborn. They are the family next door just supersized. Jane considers herself an expert in free and low cost family friendly activities in Fairfax County and DC. Jane has battled Hypermesis Gravidarum (HG) in 7 pregnancies and Postpartum Depression last year, she is an advocate for awareness and support of HG and PPD moms. Likes: a good cup of Earl Grey tea, working out or walking with friends, exploring new parks and activities with her family, and reading travel websites. Follow Jane on IG at @10busybeesfamily or FB at @10busybees.