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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Table games valuable tools

Doug Worgul Kansas City Star

Comparing the popular video game “Need for Speed” to the old-school table game Yahtzee is like comparing a NASCAR race to a walk in the park. One’s not necessarily better than the other; they’re just different.

Video games are easy targets for educators, psychologists and social scientists. They are too often too violent, too addictive and too solitary. But they’re not without their benefits. They facilitate development of strategic thinking, quick decision-making and hand-eye coordination, as well as long attention spans and concentration. All desirable.

There is just as much to be said for old-fashioned, no-tech games such as Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, checkers, dominos, Sorry, Yahtzee, Clue, Risk, Life, Monopoly and Scrabble.

The primary benefit of playing traditional board games is that they require actual human interaction. Players must talk to one another. This talking and interaction may result in laughter, warm feelings and enhanced family relationships. All desirable.

Writing for, child psychiatrist Alvin Rosenfeld, co-author of “The Over-Scheduled Child,” states that traditional board games aid the development of important social skills in children, including cooperation, self-control, confidence, independent thinking and decision-making, curiosity, empathy, communication, teamwork, vocabulary development and patience. All desirable.

When you first broach the subject of playing board games with your kids, be prepared for them to call them “bored games.”


Kids these days are inclined toward fast-paced activities and toward those that don’t include family members. Expect push back. But be prepared for them to enjoy themselves more and sooner than they’ll admit. Without necessarily being conscious of it, kids will find the gentler rhythm and low-pressure tempo of a board game a welcome antidote to the manic buzz of “Halo” and “Dance Dance Revolution.”

Massachusetts-based psychologist Kalman M. Heller says that for younger children, board games teach skills that are especially important in school. These include:

•The ability to participate peacefully and effectively in a group.

•The ability to identify and work toward a goal.

•Patience with those with lesser abilities.

•Patience with and acceptance of disappointments and setbacks.

•Understanding of the importance of rules and structure in group activities.

•Understanding of playing fairly and the consequences of cheating.

Heller says that one of the most important life skills that traditional board and table games promote is the ability to deal with winning and losing graciously. This skill comes in handy when your 9-year-old beats the socks off you in Candy Land.

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