What do you need to have a perfect family game night? The answer is a board game and any combination of mom, dad, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and of course, a couple of kids.
These family game nights can be very beneficial to all family members if the focus is on more than winning and losing.
Here are nine reasons why Family Game Nights are important.
1. Family Game Nights Connect All Members of the Family
Family game nights require all members of the family to interact with each other. These interactions create family connections and bonds for everyone.
This time together ensures that fathers connect with their daughters as well as their sons. And mothers have opportunities to relate to their sons.
Another important connect is husband to wife. Many times families with young children are so busy that it becomes easy for the parents to become disconnected from each other.
Granted family game night is not a date night, but any amount of time spouses can spend together is beneficial to the family. It is also important for the kids to see mom and dad happily spending time together.
2. Reduce Stress and Improve Your Home Environment
All week long we are working, paying the bills, cooking, cleaning, and chauffeuring kids to and from their activities.
Playing board games is an escape from all of the weekly responsibilities that fill our days. Taking this time to briefly forget about everything else for a little while decreases our daily stresses and anxieties.
By reducing stress parents can improve their overall health by reducing their blood pressure. Additionally, maintaining a constant level of high stress does not create a good home environment for kids.
Taking the time to intentionally reduce stress and spend time with your children makes for a better home.
3. Important Life Skills can Be Taught
The great thing about board games is that they are not real life. However, board games do present a number of scenarios that can be related to real life.
During these scenarios, parents can take some time to teach their children important life lessons.
Other “if-then” lessons can be discussed with children after the game is over. These are lessons of consequence. For example, if you choose to go to college in The Game of Life, then you are more likely to earn a higher level of income.
So, family game nights present a controlled environment to do some good parenting.
4. Good Sportsmanship and Caring for Others
Sportsmanship is a specific lesson that can be taught during family game nights.
There are two sides to the Sportsmanship coin. The first side is not being a sore loser. Some people just cannot accept losing, and when they do lose it’s not their fault.
Winning can also be a problem for some people. These people are no gracious and when they do win it is important for them to make all the other players feel small.
When you routinely play games everyone will eventually win and everyone will also lose. So, there are plenty of opportunities for kids, and parents, to learn how to be gracious winners and losers.
5. Learn Critical Thinking and lead to Better Academic Performance
Chess is a strategy game that requires players to look three, four, or five moves ahead. However, not everyone will become a Chess Grand Master.
Most board games do require some level of anticipation and planning in order to win. Exposing children to these types of situations early in their development helps them to develop critical thinking skills.
This type of thinking will lead to better academic performance in school. These skills prepare children to be good employees, leaders, or entrepreneurs later in their lives.
6. Better Communication Skills
Good communication skills are very underrated, and this is because most people equate communication with speaking. Communication is so much more than just speaking.
Communication involves four more components that are all exercised during family game night.
The first specific component is following instructions. When playing games you need to be able to listen to the instructions closely enough so that you can understand the rules and do what they permit you to do.
The second component is to be able to clearly express your thoughts so that others understand your intentions.
The third communication component is actively listening to other players so that you can understand what their intentions are as It relates to the game.
The final component is more for older children who are learning more complex games, and this is being aware of non-verbal communication. The earlier kids can learn to control their non-verbal communication the better. This will enable them to socialize better with their peer group.
7. Limits screen time (TV, computers, and smart phones)
How much screen time is too much screen time? The simple answer is that when these devices dominate our lives to a point where we stop effectively interacting with others.
A weekly family game night will certainly ensure that family members do spend time each week interacting with each other.
If this is a new endeavor, and depending on the age of your children, the family game night might not be well embrace at first because our electronics are very addictive.
If this is the case then you will have an opportunity to teach your first Game Night Skill – “well developed people skills are not learned on computers, and highly effective people have excellent people skill which can be learned at our weekly family game night.”
8. Life Long Memories
There are a number of ways to make good family memories. You can go on vacations or camping, spend holidays with friends and extended family, or simply spend time together enjoying each other’s company.
Playing games provides the vehicle which enables to spend time together to make these memories.
I recommend making this an all evening event. Start your family game night with a sit down meal because this will increase your overall time together as a family.
Another nice thing to do is to include others to participate in your family game night. Perhaps include aunts, uncles, and cousins; or maybe let each of the kids invite a friend now and then.
9. Family Game Nights are Full of Fun
Kids love to play and have a good time. However, sometimes as adults we forget the importance of “playtime.”
Family Game Night allows parents some time to just play around and not takes things so seriously. This time to “play” is healthy for adults, but it is also beneficial to the kids too.
It is good for children to see their parents let loose once in a while. It deepens the parent-child relationship and helps to nurture the children’s sense of humor.
One of the most important game night etiquette rules is to always have fun.
What Board Games are Good for Family Game Night
Our guidelines for making board game recommendations is that the games can include at least four players and that the game playing time for each game is minimally 20 minutes.
3-4 Years Old
My First Carcasconne
My First Carasconne won the 2012 Spel van het Jaar for children ages 3-6. This is a Dutch award and is is the Game of the Year. This is a simple tile placing game that is easy for kids to follow. The tiles lead to completed roads which then allows the players to place their Meeple. Whoever places all of their Meeples first wins.
Sequence for Kids
This card game is similar to the adult game with some differences that make it easier for kids. The playing board and the deck of cards are comprised of animal pictures so even young children can play without difficulty.
Sequence for Kids only requires obtaining four in a row on the playing board to win.
Ruckus is a card game with a goal to collect sets of cards. However, that is easier said than done when opponents ae stealing your cards. The game is constantly changing with no idea whose winning until the game ends.
Qwirkle is an excellent kid’s game. In this game the wooden blocks are used to create sequences that DO NOT repeat. Players are awarded points based on when and where they place their blocks.
Qwirkle helps children develop logic and critical thinking skill.
7-8 Years Old
Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is a train themed game which requires players to make as many connections across the country as possible. All connections are worth different point values. However, failed connections result in subtracting the point value from your overall score. The game continues until the first player only has two trains left to place on the board.
Yahtzee is a dice rolling game requires players to fill their 13 categories with the best possible score. The game ends after the last players turn is complete and high score wins.
Blokus is a strategy game where each player starts to place their pieces on the board from a specific corner. As the game progresses all of the player’s pieces start to merge. Players can continue to take their turn until they can no longer place any more pieces. The player who has the fewest blocks remaining wins.
12-13 Years Old
Clue: Harry Potter
Clue: Harry Potter has the same premise as the original Clue game. The Harry Potter theme is a nice touch for family game night because the kids will certainly enjoy the familiar players and the Hogwarts locations.
Settlers of Catan
All players are competing to build there Catan settlement. However, the needed resources may not always be available, so good negotiation skills are helpful. The first player whose settlement reaches 10 points wins.
Azul requires players to accumulate colored times and design these tiles on to their playing board. There are opportunities to get extra points for specific patterns, but there are also pitfalls – extra tiles will result in point deductions.
Not only do family game nights provide a great opportunity to have fun and create memories.
This time together has other benefits for all members of the family. This time provides some health benefits to the adults and provides some intellectual and social development opportunities for the children.
It’s not too late to start a new tradition this week. Get some games and make some time to have your first Family Game Night.