Soft Skills: The Hidden Benefits of Playing Board Games
When I encourage people to gameschool their child(ren) the first question is usually “What game can I use for math?” or the like. Of course I answer their specific question but I am also quick to point out the other benefits of gameschooling, the “soft skills” learned by playing board games. Yes, you can learn multiplication facts and prime numbers through gameschooling, but don’t forget about these hidden benefits of gameschooling!
What Are Soft Skills?
The soft skills learned through playing board games can help players develop and improve their attention, observation to detail, patience, & social skills. Soft skills will benefit your child, perhaps more than any other skillset, in adulthood. I’ve included a short list of games that help with each of the soft skills listed below, for even more suggestions please read Games that Teach Developmental Skills.
What Are the Hidden Benefits of Playing Board Games?
•ADHD, Patience, & Anxiety Coping Skills
Games are perfect for teaching children how to cope with ADHD, patience, and anxiety issues. How do they help? Games take time. When you play a game you can’t skip ahead, your attention is focused, & the game has an end point. Puzzle games are exceptionally good for these skills, especially when it comes to coping with anxiety. The stress of a puzzle game is countered with the benefit of being able to put it down and walk away.
You encourage fine and large motor control functions through board gaming. How does this work? Card games improve hand strength. Active games encourage thinking skills, flexibility, & whole-body movement. Board games with miniatures, spinners, die rolling, counting money – pretty much any game at all, really – assist with hand/arm/wrist control, as well as finger movement.
Do I move left, right, or diagonally? Do I count the space I am on as zero or one when I move? Do I prefer large miniatures or tiny ones? What is the difference between RPG and a tile-laying games? Playing board games teaches your child the basics of playing games, which makes playing board games a lot easier as time passes, especially for reluctant gamers.
•Cooperation & Good Sportsmanship
Playing fair, celebrating wins without bragging, losing a game with grace, working as a team, accepting all players regardless of skill, respectful debate instead of black & white thinking. Playing board games cover all of this!
•Visual Discrimination, Spatial Reasoning, & Hand-Eye Coordination
Checkers involves black and red spaces but you can only move on the black spaces. Prime Climb involves moving to color-coded dots. Candyland requires visual matching skills. Blokus and Crazy Campers are 3D puzzle games that involve moving variously-shapes pieces into specific spots. Board game players develop visual discrimination, spatial reasoning, and hand-eye coordination with every play.
•Critical Thinking, Logic, Decision Making, & Observation
Some kids are literal thinkers, some are creative thinkers, some are critical thinkers, and some are more of a follower than a leader. All of these types come with benefits and drawbacks, and playing board games allows children (and adults!) to develop the thinking and observation skills that they are weak in. As an example, I am a very emotional thinker and I tend to make moves quickly and without much thought but my husband is the very definition of a critical thinker, often an overthinker. Playing board games together encourages me to think and anticipate his next move and it allows him to brush up on his decision-making skills.
The above mentioned are just a few of the many soft skills we learn through board gaming. Have you seen your children (or you!) develop additional soft skills through playing board games? Leave a comment below or join us in our Facebook Group or on our Facebook Page to let us know!
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Meg Grooms (she/her) is a decades-long secular homeschooler, mother of many, writer, Florida ex-pat, and all-around swell gal. Meg & her partner have raised their kids all over the USA, finally settling on Southern California. For now, anyhow.
Meg blogs about secular homeschooling and gameschooling at Homeschool Gameschool. Meg is available for speaking engagements, workshops, and gameschooling classes, please see the About Us/Contact Meg page for more information.