You will have all heard the theory that children learn better through play, such as with games. There is a lot of evidence to support this theory. So, if you want your child to perform better at school, is it possible to do stuff at home which is fun as opposed to doing extra homework?
Learning through play helps children short term and also long term. For example, children who are good at Monopoly are often good business owners. It is one of the best tools to teach your children how to manage money. There is evidence coming through that if your child is struggling in a certain area, games may be more useful than tutoring (although not always).
So is all play good or are there certain types of play that are more beneficial. Certain types of play definitely make a difference when assisting with your children’s academic performance.
Here are my top 10 games for helping your child perform better at school, which are also lots of fun. I have broken them into age groups, but the ages are just a guide. Feel free to start playing the games earlier if you think your children are up to it.
Ages 4 to 6
The first game I recommend you start with is UNO (available online for $7 ). I first started playing a version of this at seven, but children are often able to start between the age of four and five. The game teaches number recognition, recognising patterns (very important for Maths) and most importantly improves concentration.
The Hungry Caterpillar (available online for $28) is another game to start kids off on. This is a great game for teaching adding up. Despite popular myths, practising counting to 100 is not very beneficial. On the other hand, learning to move a token four spots on a board is great for learning to add up. If you have two pieces of fruit and you need four in total, how many more do you need?
Junior Monopoly (available online for $25) is another game which is great for teaching adding up. Don’t be put off by the adult version. This game goes for 10 to 15 min and is enjoyable even for parents.
Sequence for Kids (available online for $30) is good for recognising patterns.
Ages 7 to 10
Tile Rummy / RummyO (available online for $35) is my pick for helping children with Maths. It is a tile version of gin rummy. It teaches patterns and the ability to visualise patterns. If your child can master this game, they will do well at Maths.
Yahtzee (available online for $14) is a fun game that is also great for teaching the times tables.
D.I.N.K. is a relatively unknown card game which is a good bridging game between UNO and card games like 500. Lots of fun.
Ages 10 +
Once your children have spent countless hours playing board games, they can start playing games designed for adults. Once your children reach this stage, you can have great family time playing games.
My current all time favourite game is Splendor (available online for $58). The game goes for 30 to 45 min. While the rules are straight forward, it is good for developing strategies. If your child can sit at a table and concentrate on a non digital activity for 45 minutes, then this will give them a huge advantage when they are at school. Being able to concentrate for long periods is very important if you want your children to do well at school.
Another great game is Ticket to Ride (available online for $68). Once again it goes for 30 to 45 minutes. It teaches children to add up double digit figures in their head. After playing this game every day for three months, my youngest son’s teacher wanted to know what we were doing at home that had caused a huge improvement in his mathematics in such a short time.
I am going to end with a card game. Card games are great for teaching probability. I met a guy who set the odds for Rugby and Golf for a large betting organisation. He told me growing up he spent long periods playing cards (mostly cribbage) with his Grandmother. He agreed that this is what made him so good at what he does now. The game I recommend is Rickety Kate (also known as Up and Down the River). Can be played with three to six players and is an awesome social game.
If your child plays lot of these type of games, they will find Maths B a lot easier to understand when they get to year 11. If your child is more interested in word games, Scrabble and Upwords are good games.