Grandparent Discoveries Blog

The Power and Importance of Play: Board Games

Cheryl Beaudoin

“We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”  —George Bernard Shaw 

Discovery Museum’s Speaker Series recently featured Dr. Michael Yogman, a leading Boston-area pediatrician, Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Yogman talked about the importance of play and how it affects children.   

As a retired teacher I am very aware of the importance of play, and know that unfortunately many kids may not be getting the amount of play that they need. There is a great deal of focus on academics, but that is not the only way to “learn” valuable skills.  

Some points Dr. Yogman made that resonated with me were that play is not frivolous: it helps children develop many types of important skills including social-emotional, self-regulation, and problem-solving. It also facilitates strong and safe relationships. 

As grandparents, we strive to make our time with our grands positive, fun, and memorable. I realize not everyone is comfortable getting down on the floor, getting involved in dramatic play, or going outdoors and kicking around a soccer ball. But play can happen in so many ways. One of my favorite ways to play with my grands is to play board games. They are fun and can provide so many learning opportunities, both obvious and subtle.  

Playing board games can help teach kids basic skills such as back and forth conversations, learning to take turns, and following  rules. Teaching children how to play games is always interesting because they love to make up their own rules to try to get the outcome they want!  But this is part of the process and teaching. 

When I was teaching Kindergarten, one of my favorite parts of the week was when our 6th grade “buddies” would come into the class to do various activities my students. Sometimes we would just play board games, and it always surprised me that there were some children in my class who were not familiar with playing board games. If your adult children do not play board games with your grands, it is a great opportunity for you to provide them with special time while helping them build skills. Some of my favorite games to play with my grands are Bingo the Puppy, Dominoes, any memory games, KerPlunk.    

What are your favorite games to play with your grands?  What skills have you seen your grands develop through playing games? Comment below or email me at gpdiscoveries@gmail.com.

You can watch the recording of Dr. Yogman’s Discovery Museum Speaker Series event, “The Power of Play: How To Help Children Buffer Stress and Become More Resilient,” and all Speaker Series conversations on the Museum’s YouTube channel here Discovery Museum Speaker Series - YouTube. 

Cheryl Beaudoin

Hi, I’m Cheryl: grandmother, retired Kindergarten teacher, longtime friend (and current Board member) of the Discovery Museum—and now, blogger!  As a grandparent, I try to apply what I learned as a teacher about children and their development to strengthen my relationships with my grandchildren and bring them joy. My hope for this blog is to engage with other grandparents in the Museum community to collect and share stories and ideas about the joys—and challenges—of grandparenting, and how we can connect and deepen our relationships with our grandchildren. Please join me in this wonderful journey we are on—I look forward to hearing from you! Use the comment box at the bottom of any blog post or email me at gpdiscoveries@gmail.com.

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