Some of you might read that title and think it’s a little ridiculous. But there are those who just are not all that interested in games; we like sharing work or pretend play or reading, but sitting down to an extremely simple game with a very young child can lack appeal. Having a few good reasons to play a structured game could make the difference in whether we teach our child how to play dominoes, memory, or spades. Perhaps that does not seem all that important, but games can be a lifelong tool for meeting new people, and the things we learn around a card table or game board are easily carried into the world.
First, if you have already played a game or two with your child, you probably know that sportsmanship does not come naturally to most people. Game playing provides an excellent arena for working out how to lose or win, how to be kind when someone is frustrated, and how to find the limits of ones own frustration. At different ages, most children will struggle with some element of sportsmanship, and a game can give you a glimpse into your child’s development and an opportunity for them to learn the impact of their behavior in a safe environment.
Second, there are social advantages to knowing the paradigm of game play. Most games involve a little chance with a die role or a drawn card. Then there is the etiquette of taking turns, learning not to spend too long deciding or to change your mind too often. If a child can play Go Fish or chicken foot, they can more easily learn to play a wide array of more complicated games. These lessons do not stay at the game board, either; all of these skills carry into our interactions throughout life.
The third reason is tied to why it matters that children learn to play cards or dominoes or board games at all. Games are a simple and social form of entertainment. They can be a diversion when you are stuck waiting somewhere. They can be a way to spend a more relaxed time meeting new people; a child who has a game to teach a new friend will feel more confident in what can be a trying social situation. They are an electronic-free way to interact as a family; many games are more fun with more people, so it is inviting to have the whole family involved.
Fourth, games are finite. Even if you don’t particularly enjoy games, you know there is a beginning and an end. This is where a variety in game selection matters; you can have games that can take under five minutes and others that can take an hour or more, but even the long ones have an ending. The bubble of time in which a game occurs is part of what can make it special, or at least bearable.
Finally, game playing is educational. Between matching and counting skills, relationship building, and memory enhancement, your child is bound to learn something from game play. And maybe, you can find a game or two that you even enjoy.