Board Games Enhance Cognitive Development
If you’ve found yourself pulling out more board games lately for family game nights or afternoons at home…bravo! Of course playing a game of checkers with your child is a fun way to ditch the electronics for a moment and share time together. But did you know that playing games like this will challenge and develop your child’s cognitive, language, and social skills?
From boosting working memory, to improving attention, to enhancing problem-solving skills, the benefits card and board games can have on your child’s development are endless!
A game of Chutes and Ladders will target their counting and early number skills, one to one correspondence and turn taking. A favorite in my family, “Go Fish”, enhances visual discrimination skills and auditory processing. As a speech language pathologist, I often recommend and use games in my therapy sessions to target a variety of developmental skills. Like most pediatric therapists, leafing through toy catalogs for the latest and greatest is a favorite pastime. I know that finding the best board games for my clients will be motivating for them, capture their attention, and is a sneaky way to positively impact their thinking skills!
Board games you may not be as familiar with are collaborative board games. These are games that require the players to work together to win by solving a problem. Not only do kids reep the brain boosting benefits of traditional board games, but collaborative board games teach a handful of social skills as well! When kids play collaborative board games, they learn to share decision-making responsibilities, creatively solve a problem, and share decision-making with others. They even have a positive impact on a child’s self-esteem!
Several years ago, I happened upon the board game company Peaceable Kingdom. Unlike most traditional board games, Peaceable Kingdom games are designed to be collaborative, with all players working together for the win. While there is nothing wrong with good old-fashioned competition, Peaceable Kingdom games removed the competition element and replaced it with a unique opportunity to develop teamwork. In my practice, I often work with children who have difficulty with social problem-solving skills and I am always looking for new ways to target these skills. Collaborative games generate opportunities to teach children how to work together to achieve a goal, as part of a team; an opportunity that is not easily replicated. I’m a huge fan. I’ve listed my favorites below.
Children are taught to recognize and name emotions, help others, and cooperate as part of a team in this cooperative matching game. Friends and Neighbors helps children learn to identify others’ emotions, which is a critical skill for developing empathy. That’s a skill they’ll need to successfully make and maintain relationships with others throughout their life!
My little owls love this sweet color-matching game, and so do I! It teaches them some important receptive language skills such as following directions, as well as executive functioning skills as they use some creative problem solving strategies to help all the owls in the game get home before sunrise!
Even kids as young as 3 years-old can play this one! Little ones develop fine motor skills and balance by using the giant spoon to feed the fuzzy creature silly snacks (naming them is a great way to develop language skills!) What’s also great is the option to add challenges (like a gross motor movement) for older children. So no matter the age ranges, the whole family can play this one together!
By working together to help Mama Hen gather all of the baby chicks and bring them back to the coup, children become empowered while still learning skills taught from “traditional” board games, such as turn taking and following the rules.
As kids race to get snug as a bug in a rug (before a stink bug appears!), they’ll learn early language and academic concepts, such as big and little, colors, numbers, shapes, matching, and counting. Up to 4 players can participate, and we love that there are 3 levels of play so that the game grows with your child!
If you have concerns about your child’s development please don’t hesitate to reach out to TherapyWorks. Our team of pediatric speech, occupational, physical therapists and social workers would be happy to answer your questions and provide you with recommendations.