Playing games as a family is incredibly important. I could explain why by digging deep into the theory regarding games and goals, by using psychological and developmental terminology, or even by talking about learning styles.
But I believe you need something a little more real than this kind of exposure. You need to hear stories and experiences from others who have spent their lives playing fun family games. I am such a person. I grow up playing board, card, and dice games with my parents and siblings. Now, as a parent, myself, I regularly play those same games, and new ones, with my wife and kids. I want to share some of my stories with you because I believe these stories will communicate so much more than any theory.
When I was a kid, way back before video games and home computers, we played games a couple nights a week around our kitchen table. During those evenings together the game table, we talked as a family – not just about games but about everything. I did not realize how important that was until I became an adult and ventured out into the world. I encountered so many people who families did not communicate; I encountered so many people who never learned to effectively communicate themselves. What a difference family games made for me!
Fast forward to my years as a young parent. After my oldest son started going to school, I could not find a good way to get him motivated to learn math. He had the ability; he just did not have any reason to care. So I found some games he really liked, and I tought him to keep score. He was motivated to win, and he was motivated to know where he stood in the game. As a result, he suddenly started paying attention in math class, and he soared to the top of his class.
My youngest son has a whole different kind of focusing issue; he just can not sit still for more than 30 seconds at a time … until we sit down as a family to play a game. He loves the attention. He loves the opportunity to hold his own, and even win, against his older brother and his parents.
And now, my oldest son is in Middle School. Like so many kids at that age, he's becoming a lot less communicative … until family game time rolls around. At the game table, he's still the same kid trying his best to win and having a great time doing it. At the game table, he tells me things he'd never say in normal conversation. I think it's because the pressure is off; he can just be himself.
Family games are educational. They are fun! They stimulate conversation! They teach us how to compete and how to cooperate!
Which brings me back to the reason for writing this article. I want you to know: Playing games as a family is incredibly important! I hope your family begins having a family game night soon.