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Game Plan

by on Feb.15, 2011, under Entertainment

When we have family get-togethers, the littlest kids play with their toys, and the other kids, including the teens, play family games. We’re wondering if we should try something different; are we being too old-fashioned?

Absolutely not. Studies with children from 7 through 14 show that kids at this age really love playing family games and wish their families would do it more often. I also think that playing games — card games or favorite board games — would keep older teens actively and happily involved.

Teens have lots of creativity and a good sense of humor; if they help in the planning of a family event, they feel more wanted and needed, and they will add new life to the party. And even though teens are quickly becoming young adults, they are still kids who need that feeling of belonging and “connectedness” that playing family games gives them.

Have the teens make up the topics to be acted out in charades. Our teens really loved charades, and the tasks they set for the teams to pantomime were really challenging and funny.

Another thing to remember is that many younger children love board games like Clue, Monopoly or Life, but their reading and record-keeping skills are not highly developed so they slow things down. What you can do is have an older child or an adult partner with a little one so that they can play easily; it really is just as much fun. Feel free to modify game rules to suit your family and situation.

The reason I like family games so much is that they teach not only educational skills but life skills, too. Without even being aware of it, children of all ages are having fun while they practice making choices and accepting the consequences of those choices. They are learning about winning and losing, honesty and fairness, perseverance and patience, and cooperation and teamwork.

Playing family games is something kids will remember with nostalgia all of their lives. Nothing can replace that kind of togetherness, when everyone is snacking, joking around and interacting face to face. These are times family members get to know each other as regular people. Like eating family meals together, this is a tradition we cannot afford to lose.

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