Here are steps by Helene Goldnadel to help you bring the many benefits of game playing to your own family to produce brighter children and a happier home life.
1) Buy or dust off some games that are old favorites. Games like draughts, dominoes, connect four and card games, are not only terrific fun but they are also stimulating, challenging and involve concentration and strategy.
2) Chose a convenient slot in your weekly family pattern that is an ideal time for your family to sit down together and play a few games, such as a Friday evening or a Sunday afternoon, for example.
3) Add some elements to help “game time” become a family tradition: add favorite foods (bowls of popcorn or hot chocolate perhaps?) a comfy warm setting (in front of a roaring fire?), invite grandparents etc.
4) Start with games that a suited to the youngest age group present, or have a few games going at the same time that fit the various age ranges. Make sure everyone understands the rules and aims of the game being played and give everyone the benefit of examples of good moves and strategies by illustrating them on the game board before beginning the “real” game”.
5) Explain that to enjoy playing games we all have to play by the rules, respect our partners and respect the outcome of the game. Regardless if we win or lose, to have fun playing games together we can’t gloat when we win, and can’t get upset when we lose. If we play lots of games together, there will be lots of chances for each of us to win sometimes, and lose sometimes. Either way we will have had a fun time playing together.
6) Show your own interest and enthusiasm for the game, give it concentration and effort, both for your own enjoyment, and also as a role model for your children. Rather than play ineffectively to ensure your child wins, instead, help your child learn from your game playing skills. Discuss out loud the moves you are making and why, to help your child understand the strategies you are using. If your child makes a move that is to their disadvantage, encourage them to look again and guide them to see a better move by asking them open questions such as “what are all the different options you have?” “What would happen if you take that move?” “What might be a better move that you can take?” I can see a way that you can win, can you see it?”
7) Whether your child wins or loses, at the end of the game summarise what you learnt from the game and then ask your child “what did you learn from that game?” “What might you do differently next time we play?”
8) Keep the “game time” fresh by bringing in new games. Surprise everyone by giving the family a new game “present” every few weeks. Games that can be played within an hour and involve thinking, memory, strategy or calculation are recommended such as: Othello, Guess Who, Mancala, Nine Man Morris, Scrabble, Chinese Chequers or Rush Hour.