The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 16, 2013

Bored? Play a board game

By MELINDA KAPALIN
Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — Holiday shopping is in full swing. Children have made their wish lists and technology items are often at the top. But what if parents traded one electronic game for an old fashioned board game? Imagine the change it could have on an entire family.

When family members are connected to individual electronic devices from computers to smart phones, the communication in a family breaks down. Texting replaces face to face conversations and the din of action role playing games discourages any conversation between friends or family.

By adding a traditional board game to your holiday gift list will give your family the opportunity to spend quality time together. The added bonus is knowing that your children are learning life-long skills that include basic math and reading but also key problem solving skills.

 Scholastic.com reports that playing board games with your children is a perfect way to spend time together and build learning skills at the same time. Children want and need to spend time with their parents. Time to talk, share, laugh and learn is a wonderful way to create life-long family memories.

 When young children are learning to play games like Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, or Guess Who, they are not only learning to follow directions but also improving their letter and color recognition, eye-hand coordination, and shapes.

 As children get older, board games provide more opportunities to advance math and reading skills but more importantly, children begin to understand the rules of fair play and develop more social skills. Learning communication skills, boundaries, and gaining a stronger confidence in their abilities are all part of playing board games on a regular basis.

 There are specific board games that help children with academic skills that can be purchased through learning or educational companies but the traditional game of Scrabble is perfect to help children develop better spelling skills. For math, try Monopoly (not the electronic version) and maybe have your child be the banker.

 Parents who encourage board game nights or afternoons games with their children are providing the quality time that children want to have with their parents. While peer groups have an impact on children, research shows that parents are still the number one influence in children’s lives. By taking this time to insist that all electronic devices are shut off and engaging in a fun board game, the parents and children will have the chance to share, bond, and talk.

 This year with all the hype and ads promoting every electronic gadget, game, or toy, think about going old school and buying a board game that you loved playing as a child and sharing it with your children. It could bring out the child in you!

 Remember, education and prevention are keys to making a difference in our lives.