Why Family Game Night May Boost a Child’s Academic Success

Father, mother, and two daughter laughing and playing on a brown couch

Children may struggle with focusing when it comes to executive functions like planning, prioritizing, switching between tasks, or holding information in working memory. Due to the complexity of these skills, children may face challenges at school. There are many ways in which a child’s free time can be utilized to set them up for success as they face these challenges. However this learning doesn’t have to be formally instructional in nature. Through recurring fun activities like family game night, a child can learn to develop habits of a ‘growth mindset’ as opposed to a ‘fixed mindset.’

Having a growth mindset means facing and navigating situational challenges and not perceiving failures as self-defining events. In fact, those with a growth mindset feel that they can learn from their failures. Although developing a growth mindset is not exclusive to children, it’s best to teach our children the skills required to persevere through challenging situations at a young age. 

Spending quality time playing fun games with peers, siblings, or primary caregivers can create a safe space for children to experience their emotions and creatively explore challenges that may come up through play. Researchers are now discovering that such occasions of light-hearted play or family game nights significantly contribute to a child’s holistic development. Whether it is rolling a dice or shuffling cards - hand-eye coordination opportunities during play help in developing fine motor skills that later contribute to a child’s success in sports, writing and learning to play an instrument.

You might wonder what kind of games can help develop a child’s growth mindset. Games that encourage skills like visual-spatial processing, working memory, attention, concentration, processing speed, and impulse control are the most suitable to engage in as a group. Skillmatics' unique collection of games ensures that children of all ages can thrive in building the required skills that lead to the development of their motor skills and academic success.

Here are some suggestions for the best family games to benefit learning at all age levels:

Toddlers

baby boy sitting on the floor in the play-area smiling. Shelf and other toys behind him

If your child is a toddler (from 18 months to four years old), they’re either in their sensorimotor stage or reaching their preoperational cognitive stage. Within the Sensoimotor stage a child utilizes skills and abilities they were born with like looking, listening and grabbing to learn more about the environment, while in their preoperational cognitive stage a child has an increased use of verbal representation. It begins more egocentric but shifts as the child ages within this period to be more social. During both stages, their symbolic thinking abilities are rapidly increasing. You can engage them in fun games like using the First 100 Animal Flashcards where the bright multicolored realistic imagery captures your child’s attention, and they learn about different categories of animals. Other games like Found It! and Guess in 10 Junior Animal Kingdom are more suited for kids above the age of two years. Both the games help children develop social, observational, decision-making, creative thinking, and reasoning skills.

Ages 5 - 8

Little girl playing with Skillmatics

To hone strategic thinking for children in these age ranges, Sinking Stones is your go-to, evergreen solution, where no two games are alike as your child learns how to strategize through play. Similarly, if you want your child to develop their imagination skills and emotional quotient as they grow up, one of the best games to consider for family game night is Train of Thought. In this simple yet exciting game, you’ll build emotional connections as you ask and answer thoughtful questions. The questions in this game range from ones that help children to showcase their assimilative and imagination skills. Such as, ‘If you could travel somewhere right now, where would that be?’ And questions like ‘Who do you think knows you best?’These can help with understanding their emotional responsiveness to their environment.

Aged 8 +

father, mother, son and daughter playing card game Guess in 10 by Skillmatics on a table

It's important to understand how games are important for your child’s development in observing and participating in the kind of fandoms your eight-year-old is interested in. You can do this by introducing their favorite themes for your family game night, like Guess in 10 Marvel. For such games, it’s best to divide yourselves in a team and ask several questions to guess the Marvel character using cue cards. Playing such games with your children helps them strategize their moves, engage in a group, recall information, and apply their skills in apt situations.

The role of game nights in your family time is essential in contributing to the holistic development of your child’s personality. Through the medium of games, they’re able to work on multiple skills in a fun and exciting way. Such family interactions prepare children to develop the ability to adapt to new environments and perform to the best of their abilities. The fun times at home help them develop a growth mindset, a growth instilled through the application of skills in different scenarios and experiences. These lessons will stay with them for a lifetime.