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Best Board Games for Children - Education

Updated on February 22, 2011

Best Educational Board Games for your kids

If you are looking for a fun board game for your child, then you should consider one of the best educational board games for kids. And here is why. As a child I learned a lot from reading, but for practical real world learning, I grant a lot of credit to all the games I use to play as a child.

Here are the games that I felt helped me to grow intellectually and taught me many enduring lessons. With advances in computer learning tools and the number of video games available, you might think that board games are obsolete. However, this is not true. Board games also teach negotiation, gamesmanship and playing with honor. They also allow you to interact with your child.

  • Monopoly - This game was originally developed over a hundred years ago to help teach tax theory and the dangers of monopolies. The game developed over the years, until Charles Darrow developed the version of monopoly we use today. He sold over 2 million copies in less than 2 years. The reason that monopoly is such a great game for children is that it teaches math, business investment, and the art of haggling. The game is simply enough for children to play as soon they can do basic math, yet it can be very cutthroat with adults making all sorts of contracts and monetary agreements. This game works fine for just two people at lower levels, but at older and more skilled play, it is best to have at least four players. I have noticed that this game will even teach integrity if multiple games are played over time. The few games where I have seen a player refuse to honor a contract (the rules don't force you to do so!), he would have great difficulty in negotiating in later games. The legacy of a single act of dishonoring a contract could last for dozens of games. The game of monopoly probably has the potential to teach more social skills than any other game. If you do choose to teach your child monopoly, make sure you get the classic board version of it. Computerized versions remove much of the potential for contracts. Even the game versions with an electronic pay device, take away the use of math skills.
  • Chess - Chess originated in India about 14 centuries ago. The pieces and rules evolved from a slow playing game to the fast game we have today. If you are looking for a game that teaches logic, willpower, patience, determination and facing reality, then chess has been the leading game for these attributes for centuries. During a game of chess, there are usually about 20-30 possible moves. It takes patience and discipline to properly analyze each move and the possible counter moves to each of these moves. The game punishes illogical thinking and each player is force to deal with the reality of the situation or ultimately lose. Chess is one of the few games that do not directly involve luck. A perfect player would never lose a game. Chess is especially useful for helping children (or even adults) with ADHD. Another thing about chess is that you can give your child a chess set and a book on beginning chess theory. Learning skills like how to perform a checkmate with a king and rook versus a lone king, have a positive effect on their self-confidence and ability to think clearly. Chess demonstrates the true efficacy of logic.
  • Scrabble - This game is not nearly as old as chess or monopoly, but it does teach two important skills. It helps to build vocabulary and it teaches some math by the fact that there are usually several possible moves with different potential scores. I suggest when playing with children that you adapt the rules to make it more of a learning experience. First of all, allow a player to use a dictionary. This will expose the person to more words as he looks for words to play. The other rule change is to sometimes allow players to use one or two extra letters. This increases the number of potential words and creates a more open board. You can also use this as a handicap to make the game more even between adults and children. Allow the child to use eight or nine letters, while the adult can only use the regular seven. Warning: You will discover that this can be a huge handicap as the potential combination of words goes up exponentially with the number of letters available.
  • Settlers of Catan - This is a fairly recent game that came out of Germany in 1995. Many are calling it a modern day Monopoly. At first, I was skeptical about it's ability to teach entrepreneurship skills, but I am changing my mind. And from what I have seen, SoC has many advantages over the ancient game. It is designed to be played in about an hour and will be done in 90 minutes at the most. Rather than destroying your opponents, the game is about accumulating resources and being the first to obtain the goal of achieving 10 victory points. This game retain the most important aspect of teaching games in that it allows you to negotiate with other players for resources. It has become popular amongst both programmers and venture capitalists. It is played in growth oriented countries all over the world.

Educating for Life - Top Board Games

Although, I feel that these are the four top and best board games that can help your children learn, there are many other games that I believe have value. Many other board games are educational, but unfortunately most of these board games are only suited for a certain age group or teach very little after the initial learning phase.

Monopoly, Chess, Scrabble, and Settlers of Catan are board games that have many potential competitors and can teach many enduring lessons. Teach your children these four games and you will be educating and preparing them for the rest of their lives.

Best Educational Games for Children

Comments

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  • Pente profile imageAUTHOR

    Pente 

    6 years ago from Planet Earth

    @SellyCells, Yahtzee sounds like a great game for children just starting to learn math. Certainly more fun than flash cards!

  • profile image

    SellyCells 

    6 years ago

    Do you think Yahtzee is a great educational board game as well? Its fun and you learn mathematical skills as well.

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