Board games in early childhood

Oh what fun!!!

Board games are a holistic experience where children are engaged in play and learning. For board games to be truly beneficial they need adult interaction, guidance and reinforcement which enriches the opportunity for a positive and worthwhile play and learning experience for the children in your group.

Board games fulfil children’s basic competitive impulses and they stimulate children’s desire to learn new concepts, ideas and skills. They allow children to predict, problem solve, turn take and develop an understanding of fair play, turn taking, winning and losing. All of these are vey important for children’s development and builds on their life skills, resilience, autonomy, self worth and sense of agency.

A valuable aspect of board games is that they have rules which stimulate children’s domains of development. Through playing board games children have the opportunity to learn about numbers, shapes, grouping, colours, counting, number/letter recognition, reading, visual perception, hand-eye coordination, mental and physical dexterity.

Remember that children take winning seriously and it is our role as professional educators to help negotiate the complex aspects of winning and losing (especially in group play learning situations). For young children (3-5years) we have an obligation to them to help balance their pleasure in playing, joining in and winning with their limited ability to cope with frustration and the realisation of losing. Therefore it is important to choose the right board game for the child or group of children you are working with. Take into consideration the child or children’s interests, where and when you are going to play the board game, the maturation level of the child or children and the dynamics of you group.

While it is important to realise that board games teach children structured skills such as values, ethics, thinking and playing by the rules (limit reinforcement); the primary goal for children playing a board goal is to help children to become more self confident, have a sense of achievement and enjoy playing and learning with others. A younger child may be responsible for rolling the dice while and older child may be responsible for counting out the moves.

Don’t forget the good old board game when you are programing for an individual child or a group of children (no more than 4). Playing board games with children provides you with the opportunity to spend quality, intentional and uninterrupted time with the children you educate and care for. They allow you to see how children learn, reason, and understand how children are achieving their milestones. Board games are very much an intentional teaching experience, where you have goals and objections for children’s holistic and continuing development, play and learning. Board games help children to focus, stimulate and extend their attention span and concentration. Board games can settle children; take them to a higher plane of thinking.


Remember that board games should be fun for all. They don’t need to be just brought out on a rainy day. Board games should be a natural reoccurring part of your program. They should allow the children and the educator to enjoy each others company and reinforce a genuine interest and understanding of each other – (by Rhonda Ross – Training Manager)


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