As back to school is well underway, our schedules can become very hectic with carpools, school events, homework, and the like. In my back to school blog, I wrote, a well thought out routine can be the secret to a calm, child centered learning environment if planned appropriately. This time I want to encourage you to make a family night part of that routine.
Young children thrive on quality time spent together with family. Not only is the interaction good for building self-esteem, reserving a special night is a great way to strengthen communication and bonding within a family and build traditions that are special and unique to each individual family. I also encourage families to get away from screen time as a family activity and instead look for creative games to play with their children.
According to Elizabeth Brunscheen-Cartagena, family life and resource management agent with Kansas State Research and Extension, board games can help family members connect and have fun together, all while helping kids build essential learning skills as they navigate the social component of game playing. Brunscheen-Cartagena refers to this as “social capital” in her blog, Get Your Game Face On.
There are many benefits to playing games with young children as a family, and research tells us that it is through play that children make discoveries and learning new skills.
- Motor Development: Age appropriate games give opportunities to develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills such as rolling dice and turning over cards.
- Intellectual Development: Games allow exposure to counting, sorting and identifying numbers, and some introduce shapes and patterns, as well as new vocabulary and letter recognition.
- Problem solving abilities: Games that promote memory and puzzles are good choices here. Games are great tools that give opportunities for simple decision making.
- Social skills: Playing games introduces and allows practice in turn taking and opportunities for families to model appropriate ways to interact with others.
Check out this article from Scholastic Parents on The Benefits of Board Games. It gives some great suggestions on age appropriate game selections and advice about winning.
Family Game nights do not have to break your budget. There are many creative games that you can play without an inventory of board games with a few simple everyday objects or With Just a Paper and Pencil. And I am all for any activity that gets kids up and moving. Click here for 18 “Get off the Couch” games.
Tips to make your family night a success:
- Establish a regular day and time that works best for your family
- Eliminate distractions such as cell phones and television
- Make sure everyone can play or participate
- Keep it fun, build a family tradition to be remembered
What are some of your favorite family game night memories and ideas?
Lynn DeVries, Extension Educator | The Learning Child
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