Playing with Board Games - Supporting Your Child's Development

Board games are a great way for children of all ages to spend time with family and friends and a fun way to learn new skills. Whether it be a game of classic “Guess Who”, strategic “Battleship” or the visually appealing “Candyland”, there’s a game for everyone! Here are some ideas to make playing with board games a fun and engaging learning experience:

Vocabulary

  • Repeat names of objects/characters/colours in the game to help children to learn new vocabulary and cement their knowledge of familiar vocabulary. (e.g. you picked the GREEN car, that car is GREEN)
  • Encourage children to name items that you need for the game (e.g. pencils, dice)

Expressive language

  • Encourage children to explain the rules of familiar games to practise their sequencing and recount skills. These skills are important to help children create narratives in school and to practise conveying information in a meaningful way. Caregivers can support children to complete this task by prompting for steps (e.g. ‘what do I do AFTER I roll the dice?’ Or ‘I can move my car after I roll the _____’).

Following instructions

  • Learning the rules of new board games is a fun way to practice following instructions. Caregivers can support children to develop their following instructions skills by:
    • Breaking up long instructions to smaller parts (e.g. instead of “Roll the dice then move your car forward until you get to the finish square”, try: “Roll the dice. Move forward three steps.”). As children build their confidence and skills in following instructions, increase the number of steps that are provided
    • Using visuals. Visuals are a great way to help children follow instructions (e.g. during Twister, show the child the spinning board as well as reading the instruction).

Literacy

  • Board games (e.g. Scrabble, Boggle, Taboo, Headbandz, Don’t Say It and many more!) are a fun way to develop reading skills. Depending on the child’s reading level, caregivers can support children by:
    • Helping children blend words together (e.g. c-a-r makes ___ or c-ar makes ___)
    • Encouraging children to read familiar words to build their confidence

Social skills

  • Playing board games with others allow children to practise playing with others, taking turns and winning and losing behaviours. Caregivers can support the development these skills by:
    • Modelling positive winning and losing behaviours (e.g. encourage children to say ‘good game’ after each game. Remind children that they may have not won, but it was still fun to play the game and maybe they will win next time)
    • Prompt children by saying ‘MY turn, YOUR turn’ and by asking ‘who’s turn is it now??’

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