An Educational Board Games Guide for Savvy Parents & Kids

Besides being great fun, board games can be a very important development tool for children if chosen carefully. From helping them develop problem-solving and decision-making skills to improving social skills and strategic thinking. In this article we'll dive into the benefits board games can have on kids as well as share some of our favourite board games with educational benefits. Let's dive in!

Board games develop social skills

When playing board games you have to interact with other players and the game itself. This helps build crucial social skills. By playing board games, kids can develop their conversational skills, patience and determination.

Playing board games motivates children

The competitive nature of most games motivates children to do their best against others and the game. They will find pride in beating others and the system, as well as being a great way of teaching resilience in the face of losing and that it’s not always about winning but about doing your best even if you don’t win.

Board games encourage together time

Board games are a fantastic way for families to spend time together. They lead to quality family time and improve interactions in a positive way. Cooperative games, in particular, can lead to a lot of quality time with each other. 

Board games develop decision-making skills

Board games are great at nurturing effective decision-making skills. Often in a strategic style game, the player will have to perform quick moves, but they must also be effective moves. They will learn to think strategically and not to always make random guesses. These are skills that are transferable to other real-world situations and will come useful during the course of their lives.

Board games teach kids about achieving goals

A lot of board games will have strict criteria for winning the game, effectively teaching kids how to achieve goals. You may have to work towards a certain score, the elimination of other players, capturing targets etc. These game goals help kids develop a mindset of goal achievement, increasing their determination and resilience.

Board games nurture problem-solving skills

Due to their very nature, most board games present a problem that needs solving to succeed. Kids will learn to look at all the parts of a problem and find solutions, which are skills that will be used time and time again in daily life.  

Now that we’ve outlined the benefits board games can have on children, it’s time we share some of our favourite board games with educational benefits with you guys! You will be able to find any of these games available to buy online and at very reasonable prices.

Games to play with children ages 6+

Connect 4 Strategy

This Connect 4 Board Game adds a brand new twist to the traditional game of connect four. In this version of the game, the players also have blue blocker discs available. Kids are provided with a new element to play with and block their opponent. As a result, the game involves more strategy, which is great for your child’s logical and strategic thinking skills.

The game is won when a player gets 4 of their pieces in a row. Due to the blocker discs feature, the game takes a more competitive nature. This makes the game more exciting and helps to improve your child’s social skills.

Guess Who?

A classic game where you have to ask questions about your opponents’ identity and through the process of elimination work out who they are. Children will learn how to identify the differences between the characters, hair colour, hats, glasses etc.and how to use this to whittle down to their true identity. Knowing what questions to ask and when to ask them is a great skill to have and this game will help kids develop this useful skill. 

Scrabble Junior

A classic game that develops both a competitive edge and helps develop spelling skills and vocabulary. This is a version of Scrabble for younger players featuring a double-sided board. The introductory version resembles more a crossword puzzle in which all the possible words have already been spelled out. This is an aid to learning how to spell words correctly. Points are earned by completing the words on the board. The reverse side is an entirely blank grid, leaving players to come up with their own words. A point is earned for each letter placed as for the classic Scrabble game. 

Games to play with children ages 8+

Ticket to Ride: Europe

This is an update to the original Ticket to Ride but the overall goal remains the same: collect and play train cards in order to place your pieces on the board, attempting to connect cities with your railway. Points are earned both from placing trains and completing tickets. The player who has the most points at the end of the game wins.

Children will learn how to plan out routes, colour matching, ‘budgeting’ their rolling stock and how to play tactically to block other players.

Labyrinth

Ready for a treasure hunt in a moving maze? In this game, players need to be the first to collect the treasure to win. Using action cards, you can move around the walls of the maze to clear a path to your treasure and also block out other players from reaching the treasure first.

This is a perfect game to entertain the whole family as well as helping kids develop their strategic skills and logical thinking. The game seems simple at first glance but it will challenge you and your kids to think about multiple solutions to winning the game and how to be prepared for any situation.

Azul

Azul sets you up as mosaic tilers looking to tile the wall of a palace. You gain points based on how you place the tiles to decorate the palace with extra points awarded for specific patterns and completing tile sets. The gameplay lasts for about 30 minutes, being a good duration to ensure that kids are able to remain focused without being bored, making it a great game to help increase their ability to concentrate on a task for longer periods of time.

Games to play with children ages 10+

Wingspan

You are bird enthusiasts—researchers, bird watchers, ornithologists, and collectors—seeking to discover and attract the best birds to your network of wildlife preserves. Each bird extends a chain of powerful combinations in one of your habitats (actions). This game teaches children how to plan, set goals and alter them when necessary.

Catan

Now, this is one of the all-time classics and a favourite to many people which is why we couldn’t leave it off the list. After all, it is one of the best strategy board games out there.

In Catan, players try to be the dominant force on the island of Catan by building settlements, cities, and roads. On each turn, dice are rolled to determine what resources the island produces. Players collect these resources (cards)—wood, grain, brick, sheep, or stone—to build up their civilizations and get to 10 victory points to win the game. Children will learn forward planning, negotiation skills and strategic thinking.

Dixit

If you’ve never heard of Dixit, we strongly recommend you try it! This is a great game for developing creativity, deduction and storytelling skills in children as well as being a really funny and beautiful (the illustrations on the game cards are amazing) game to play with the whole family.

Players are each given 6 cards. Each turn, one player takes the mantle of storyteller and has to select one of the cards in his hands to make up a one-sentence story about without showing the card to the other players. Each other player selects the card in their hand that they think best matches the one-sentence story. The storyteller then shuffles the cards and places them face up in the middle of the table. Players then have to place a bet on which picture is the storyteller’s and points are gained on making the correct guess. For extra learning benefits, we recommend asking players to explain why they think the card is the one behind the story.

Games to play with children 12+

DC Deck-building Game

Each player gets to play as a mighty DC Superhero, including Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. You need to build your deck of cards by using the points on the cards you have in your hand. You play against the game, trying to defeat the supervillains and against other players trying to outpoint them at the end of the game. Children will learn when to play defensively and when to attack. Skills such as forward planning and strategic play are built upon as they decide what cards to buy and when best to play them.

Codenames

In Codenames, two teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right colour while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin. Children will learn advanced non-verbal communication and problem-solving skills.

Everdell

Over four seasons, players place their forest animal meeples to get resources to buy cards into a personal tableau, which gains you points towards winning the game or special abilities to help you build further. The game starts simply, with the complexity increasing as a player’s cards gain synergies from newly acquired cards. In addition to the points they get from acquiring cards, players score by triggering events, from collecting certain combinations of card types, and from end game bonuses given by cards for acquiring certain other cards in their city. Forwarding planning, strategic play and adapting to changing situations are only some of the skills this game will teach children.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog and discovering new board games you can play with the whole family for some fun times together! If you and your family have been playing any board games that have good educational benefits for kids let us know on social media using @techwillsaveus and tell us why you think the board game is great! We’d love to add them to this guide for other families to try them out too.