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Posted by in General on December 2nd, 2012 |

 
Did you know? A 20-year study found a reduced rate of dementia among those who participated in activities such as board game.

 

In Praise of the Humble Board Game

Old-fashioned board games and cards do more than entertain the kids – they teach them valuable life skills

Unplug the Xbox and hide the laptops. This Christmas, embrace the highly educational simplicity that can be found in board games or a pack of cards.

While there is no unringing the electronic games bell, there is still a strong place in children’s lives for the humble board game, say Adelaide child psychologist Tim Dansie, who is passionate about the role these simple pursuits play in teaching kids practical life skills.

“Board games and card games allow kids and adults to sit down, talk, have fun and compete, while also creating memories they’ll keep for a long time,” he says.

“Think back. Who taught you how to play chess, draughts, canasta and so on? And now reflect back on the fun and the great memories you had with the people you played games with.”

“Neurologically speaking, playing games also stimulates the brain and this is important as adults grow older and as children’s brains develop.”

 

Backed by evidence

It’s not just soft and fuzzy happy memories that board games and cards have going for them – research has also shown the many benefits all ages get from lying around on the living room floor, rolling a dice and playing to win.

A 2007 US study found when youngsters from low-income backgrounds played a game resembling that perennial favourite Snakes & Ladders, they reaped large and lasting gains in the area of numeracy knowledge – that is, maths.

Several studies have found that these games also teach kids lessons about getting along with each other, and that when they play with older people they can learn skills about winning – or losing – gracefully.

“This sort of social connection and interaction between people in real life can never be replaced by a computer screen,” Dansie says. “Board and card games teach winning and losing and this is a big part of life – sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.”

“I do worry that people playing games on computers too often don’t learn this lesson because when you lose on a computer, you simply start again.”

Dansie also loves the old faithfuls because of their simplicity and inherent ability to teach numeracy, strategy, forward planning and general social interaction skills.

 

Make a family tradition

For Dansie, the ultimate beauty of old-fashioned games is the role they can play in enhancing family connections.

“I encourage families to eat as many meals as possible together, then straight after, spend 15 minutes playing a family game,” he says.

“In our house we play Uno and we keep a progressive score, with the winner at the end of the week choosing dessert for Sunday night. Children love these traditions and they create memories that will live forever.”

“Fifteen minutes is not a huge amount of time and so worthwhile in the long term.”

 
Lifted from Sunday Telegraph, Sunday December 2, 2012: Body & Soul Magazine – Parenting Page 26 with Fiona Baker

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