We’ve teamed again with The Genius of Play to give you some ideas for fun family time. Today I talk about the value of board games. If you’re still shopping for the holidays, pick up a new board game… this will be great for a gift of for your own family to enjoy!
By Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun
Quick: How many board games do you have? Without your checking yet, I’m guessing the answer is: more than you thought! A classic for fun play time, the good ol’ board game has survived the growth of TV channels, electronics, and the Internet. No matter how much time people may spend online, watching TV, or playing with tablets, I’m betting that just about every household has a fair number of board games.
The enduring appeal of these games is easy to see. Board games are usually very easy to learn and provide a different experience each time. Most of them are good for all ages, and can include many players. Whether they’re games of chance or games of strategy, they encourage conversation. And board games help gather friends and family for quality time. Board games also are portable, small, and easy to store.
This last part — the ease of packing them and putting them away — could be a problem, though. In some homes, board games often are placed in a closet or cabinet. While this ease of storage is good, if you store games this way, they can become “out of sight, out of mind.”
I know that was becoming the case for us. When our son was smaller, we tended to put board games away and out of reach because of the small parts, first to avoid chocking risks when he was a toddler, and later, when he was older, to avoid losing all the little game parts. Over time we had collected several board games, from classics to new favorites, and had them in different parts of the house.
It wasn’t until our annual Halloween party this fall that I realized just how many games we had. With so many children coming over to our house, I wanted to find ways to keep them entertained and interacting with one another. The kids could play with other toys in our living rooms and basement, but the dining room became “game central.” Here we set up all our board games (nearly three dozen!) on the table for kids to play with.
“Game central” was a hit with the preteens! Go figure… the ones I thought might be inclined toward electronics ended up spending a good couple of hours in our dining room and dinette area playing various games. While some gravitated toward classics such as Battleship, some discovered “new” (to them) such as the Pandemic game we ourselves had only learned about last year.
Ever since that day, I’ve made sure to leave our games out in a place where kids can reach them at any time (now that they’re older and I don’t have to worry about the tiny pieces). We cleared out an open cabinet in our living room, donating other outgrown toys, and placed the board and card games there instead. Our son and any visitors now have a “library” of games they can access at any times.
And in addition to fun, why is playtime like this so important? Playtime has many benefits: social, emotional, cognitive, physical, creative, and communicative. Playing with board games is one way to get these benefits, but of course there are many more — and the benefits are not just for children! The Genius of Play website has resources to encourage parents and kids to find fun ways to play. The Genius of Play also has produced Dear Parents videos that are from a kid’s perspective and encourage parents to help their kids get a variety of play in their day. For example, this “Timeout” video asks parents to take time from their hectic days to enjoy play:
The Genius of Play site is a community website of The Toy Association. The not-for-profit trade association representing more than 950 businesses that design, produce, license, and deliver toys and youth entertainment products for kids of all ages. For more fun ideas, you also can follow The Genius of Play on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
This post is sponsored by The Genius of Play. I was compensated for producing this article. The ideas and opinions are my own and the text and photos are my original work.
Photos by P. Hall