An evening of playing games can bring your family closer and provide hours of entertainment. You will get to know each other on different levels and the family activity can even help build character.

An evening of playing games can bring your family closer and provide hours of entertainment. You will get to know each other on different levels and the family activity can even help build character.

 Game playing is a great way to teach children valuable life lessons. Different games focus on different skills:

 Apples to Apples - public speaking and creative thinking; Bingo - numbers and letters; Candy Land - matching, taking turns and counting; Clue - memory, deductive reasoning and record-keeping; Cranium - creative thinking and improvisation; Jenga - hand-eye skills, observation and concentration; Monopoly - attention span, negotiation, compromise and money skills; Payday - planning and money-management skills; Scrabble - vocabulary, addition and spelling skills; Sorry! - counting, colors and strategy; and Yahtzee - multiplication, counting and record-keeping.


"Learning to lose and learning to win are part of the value of game-playing," says Janine Jones, Ph.D., assistant professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington. "Children who master these concepts grow up with better skills to navigate not only a game board, but also to navigate life."

 But it's up to parents to help teach those life lessons. "When adults play games with kids, the parents need to grow up," Jones says. "Parents have to forget about winning and focus on teaching their children how to handle losing, how to win gracefully and how to play by the rules."

Keep these tips in mind when playing games with kids of varying ages:

Keep games short. With younger children, it's better to play one game three times than have the youngest players lose interest.

For advanced games, play in teams. Pair your preschooler with a parent or older sibling.

Make sure everyone is involved in every game. Even toddlers can move game pieces, roll dice and match colors.

Look for ways to adapt adult games to kids; the classics also have junior versions.

Don't let anything interfere with your scheduled game night. Eat dinner early or order takeout. Make sure homework is done; you might even want to turn off the phone. Then clear the dishes put out some snacks and have fun.



For more family activity ideas, contact Lisa Wallace,  at wallacel@missouri.edu.