Board Game Blues
Whether it’s for family fun nights or a rainy day in, board games are a classic way of passing the time. These days, there are new games coming out all the time. There are puzzles, card games, strategy games, and guessing games. With a seemingly endless supply, how do you pick which game is best for your child? Walking into a store and looking at a wall of color and cartoon figures can be a bit overwhelming, so here’s a simply guide to help you shop.
Step One: Age Ranges
Games come with a recommended age for their players that is displayed on the box. This might seem simple at first, but there’s a little more to it than it might appear at first glance. These age ranges are designed as a sliding scale or ability and interest. For example, a box that have an age range of 3-8 on it doesn’t mean that a three-year-old is going to be able to grasp all the rules or that an eight-year-old isn’t going to find it boring. Most games will also come with variant rules for different age ranges.
Uno, for example, is a game that’s rated 7+, but there are also card packs of My First Uno, with is designed for kids ages 3-5. This version has fewer cards and breaks the game down to its basics. Personally, I love playing Uno with younger kids because it promotes color and number recognition as well as helping with coordination as the child learns to hold the cards in their hands rather than spread out across the table.
Using these age ranges as a guide, I like to buy games where the child’s age is on the lower end of the scale. This allows them to grow into the game and get the most out of it. It’s also a great measuring tool for how much your child is learning.
Step Two: Types of Games
I listed a few game types earlier in this post and it can be tough to choose between them. I have good news, though; there’s really no bad choice. Almost any game has some benefit to the players, even if it’s just having fun. That being said, here are a few of my favorites:
Puzzles are great for any age. In kids, they promote color and pattern recognition as well as coordination is finding the right way to slot together the pieces. There’s a lot more going on with puzzles than might appear at first glance.
I love, love, love cooperative Games. What makes them different? Everyone is on the same team. Instead of each player, or pair of players, working against each other, everyone works together to achieve their goal. In Leo Goes to the Barber by Hasbro, all of the players either win together or lose together. They each have their own hands of cards to play from, advancing the wooden token of Leo down the path and trying to get to the barber before time runs out! (This is also a great memory game.)
I don’t see as many of these anymore, but games like Bop It, another licensee of Hasbro, or the electronic Simon Says are a wonderful way of getting kids moving. Their fun, interactive game play keeps everyone moving and laughing. They also help with listening comprehension skills and reflexes.
Step Three: Know Your Child
I’m the first person to agree that all kids are different. They learn at different rates, like different things. Some want to run around until they drop while others are most content being read to, or even doing the reading themselves! Take your time and decide which games would suit your child best. Personally, I love watching YouTube videos of people playing games I’m unfamiliar with so that I can get a feel for what they might be like. Most videos are also reviewing the games, so you’ll find out whether or not the players actually liked it.
I’ll revisit this topic on a later series of articles, going into more detail, but these are the basics. Picking out a board game doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it first seems. Being a parent comes with a lot of challenges, but this doesn’t have to be one of them.