Practical Dad

PracticalDad and Play:  Some Game Guidelines

Your child is in preschool and you're starting to play simple card and board games with her.  Not all games are created equal and not all kids are ready for the more competitive games that require basic strategic thinking.  What might you keep in mind?

  • The earliest games that you choose should give the child the opportunity to win without being allowed to win.  Children want to do well and show what they can do, so winning does matter to them.  On the other hand, letting them win games for which they are unprepared sets up a bad precedent for a future life.  Games such as Candyland are great since the chance of winning is random and the child has the chance to win without any strategic thought.  You can instead concentrate on more basic skills like taking turns and color recognition.  Checkers is a lousy choice except for the rarest of cases.
  • Not all games accomplish the same thing.  Assemble a variety of games that teach different things in a fun way.
  • How many bells and whistles are there?  Having to constantly install batteries is a nuisance and some games are rendered useless if too many parts are missing.
  • If you have children of different age levels, is this a game that can be enjoyed by everybody?  I was surprised to find that when I had high schoolers to my house for a youth group event, they all took turns playing Candyland.
  • What's the general time frame on length of play?  If you have limited time, then it's fair to opt for a game that has a short time frame.

Over the next series of articles, we'll explore some of the games that are available and what they offer.

Until then, have fun.

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