Family games nights can offer much more than just a fun way to pass the time. They provide a rich platform for nurturing critical life skills and personal growth in a familiar, comfortable setting.
Let’s set our devices to one side for a couple of hours and rediscover the screen-free fun of board games.
We’ll discuss some educational benefits of playing games together and offer a few helpful tips for making the most of your games night.
We hope to convince you that regularly playing games together can be an enriching experience for both kids and adults.
How can game nights with family benefit a child’s development?
Teaching Graceful loss:
Nobody enjoys losing, but taking defeat gracefully and moving on is a useful social skill, teaching resilience and sportsmanship.
Providing role models:
Children learn by example and will often look to adults for cues on how to behave. We can demonstrate fair play, strategic-thinking and how to formulate winning strategies to set an example for children to follow.
Strategy and critical thinking:
Many games force us to think ahead and develop strategies to avoid certain pitfalls or penalties. This highly transferable skill can be applied to many other facets of a child’s learning.
Turn taking and patience:
Learning to value the feelings of others is a crucial part of a child’s development. This applies to younger players especially. In games with several players, waiting for your turn also helps develop patience.
Development of fine motor skills:
Simple actions like rolling dice, moving pieces, and assembling parts aid in refining children’s fine motor skills.
Boosting communication skills:
We love games that require players to formulate a creative answer to a question and articulate it to the rest of the group. These kind of games get us to think carefully about what to say and the words to choose to deliver the message.
Games can play a significant role in confidence building. They provide a safe, friendly environment where players can take risks with minimal consequences.
Many board games also have built-in reward systems and achievements as players progress and meet certain objectives. Achieving these milestones within a game can boost self-esteem and build confidence in a player’s abilities.
Playing games with friends, family, or even work colleagues creates shared experiences. We often create fond memories of memorable moments within a game that we can look back upon with fondness.
Games that require teamwork foster a sense of mutual achievement and fellowship that can strengthen our ties to each other.
Furthermore, simply playing games together can provide a space for distraction-free conversation and engagement.
Promoting screen-free fun:
In a world where electronic devices are so prevalent, board games can demonstrate to children that screen-free activities can be equally rewarding. For adults, games nights are a great opportunity to pass down nostalgic games from their own childhood, preserving family traditions.
It’s worth noting that many of the potential benefits we can derive from game playing can apply to us as adults too.
As if this wasn’t enough to convince you to incorporate games into your routine, there’s also the added benefit that game nights don’t have to involve expense. Of course, purchasing new games will cost money, but many fun games can be played with no more than a pen and paper. A game of old-fashioned bingo is always a winner in our house!
Deciding which games to play – Questions to help you decide:
There are hundreds of different board games to choose from. You might want to consider the following when making your choice:
How long do we want our game to last?
Some games comprise ‘mini-games’, which can last for as little as 5 or 10 minutes. Others involve epic sessions lasting several hours.
What kind of elements would you like your game to include?
Strategy? Competition? Questions? Funny? Campaign? Card games? Storytelling? Performance?
Who will be playing?
Consider the individual requirements of all players to ensure nobody feels excluded. If a player needs extra help understanding the rules, consider teaming up.
Does the game suit the players’ wants, abilities, and age range?
It goes without saying that those with sensory or physical limitations should not feel excluded.
How much space are we going to need?
Does the game require a large table area on which to place a board, or can the game be played with little or no equipment?
Will the game encourage interaction among players?
Will the game support a fun group dynamic? Are there players who wont feel comfortable being ‘in the spotlight’ for certain aspects of a game?
Do you want a highly competitive game or one where players work together towards a shared goal?
Both game types can be great fun and help nurture valuable social/emotional skills.
Tips for a successful game night
Mark it on the calendar.
Pick a date and time that suits your schedule and mark it on the calendar. Spontaneous games are fun, but having a set day gives something to look forward to and ensures everyone’s can take part. We love hosting a midweek games session as it breaks up the week nicely.
Prepare snacks in advance.
Prepare some healthy treats (or the occasional not-so-healthy treat) to enjoy whilst playing. Avoid foods that are likely to result in sticky fingers and crumbs on the board!
Remove distractions (including phones).
There’s nothing worse than people checking phones whilst playing a board game. It prevents you from connecting fully with the game, and each other. Leaving phones in another room altogether removes the temptation to check.
Be a good sport and congratulate the winner without getting upset or making a fuss about losing. Losing can be difficult for some children, so it’s important to be a good role model for them
Clear a space.
Ensuring you have a clutter-free area that comfortably accommodates all players is a must. Make sure you have comfortable, supportive seating which allows everyone – large and small – to reach the board. Players having to stretch across a table to throw a dice is less than ideal and often results in game pieces being knocked over.
Take turns to pick a game.
Making games night a regular habit provides the opportunity to have some fun with picking games. Take turns each week to pick which game to play. In addition to keeping sessions vibrant and fun, it means less chance of boredom arising from playing the same game too often.
Raise the stakes.
Adding an element of jeopardy can add some excitement to game night. Perhaps the loser has to help with certain household chores like washing the family car or doing the dishes for a week! The winner might receive special TV privileges – like complete control of the remote for one evening.
At its heart, a games night is an opportunity to strengthen bonds and create some lasting memories in an environment of fun and personal growth. It shows us the importance of setting aside electronic devices occasionally to connect with each other on a deeper level.
We’d love to hear some of your game-based tips and stories. Let us know in the comments below. We don’t always publish comments, but we do read them!