The Power of Board Games: Boosting Math Skills in Young Children

We’ve all heard about the benefits of board games when it comes to enhancing learning and development. Well, here’s some fantastic news—recent research reveals that number-based board games like Monopoly, Othello, and Chutes and Ladders can work wonders in improving our young children’s math skills!

The research

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Early Years, delved into the topic over the past 23 years, and the findings are truly fascinating. For kids aged three to nine, playing these number-based board games can lead to better counting, improved addition abilities, and enhanced number recognition. Isn’t that amazing?

Dr. Jaime Balladares, the lead author of the study from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, shares the exciting news: “Board games enhance mathematical abilities for young children. Using board games can be considered a strategy with potential effects on basic and complex math skills. Board games can easily be adapted to include learning objectives related to mathematical skills or other domains.”

But wait, there’s more! The magic of these board games lies in their format. Games, where players take turns to move pieces around a board, are the ones that prove beneficial for our little learners. These games offer fixed rules, which limit a player’s activities, and the moves on the board generally determine the overall playing situation. The consistency of this format helps in reinforcing math skills and concepts.

Board Games vs Worksheets

Despite the undeniable advantages of number-based board games, it’s surprising to note that preschools rarely use them, and many families turn to paper worksheets like Brain Quest or Kumon or online math games. As a result, this research aimed to compile evidence of board games’ effects on children to spread the word about their benefits.

Here’s how the study was conducted: The researchers analyzed 19 studies published from 2000 onwards, involving children aged from three to nine years. All the studies focused on the relationship between board games and mathematical skills. The children participating in the studies received special board game sessions, led by teachers, therapists, or parents, on average twice a week for 20 minutes over one-and-a-half months.

The results

The results were nothing short of impressive! Math skills improved significantly among more than half (52%) of the tasks analyzed after the sessions. In almost a third (32%) of cases, children who took part in the board game intervention performed better than those who did not participate.

Now, this opens up a whole new world of opportunities. The researchers are planning to explore the effects of board games on other cognitive and developmental skills. They’re urging the development of more and better educational board games and implementing scientific procedures to evaluate their efficacy. Isn’t that an exciting prospect?

The takeaway

So, parents, it’s time to dust off those old board games and set up regular game nights with your kids. Let them dive into the world of numbers and math through these entertaining and educational games. The best part? You can join in the fun too! By doing so, you not only boost their math skills but also create lasting memories and strong family bonds.

The power of board games in nurturing our children’s minds is immense. Let’s embrace this effective and enjoyable approach to learning, and watch our little ones flourish in the world of numbers. The joy and learning that come from these board games are truly priceless. So, gather your family around the game board, and let the math magic unfold! Check out these math-based board games to get started.

Caroline Mukisa
About The Author: Caroline Mukisa is the founder of Maths Insider. A Cambridge University educated math teacher, she's been involved in math education for over 20 years as a teacher, tutor, Kumon instructor, Thinkster Math instructor and math ed blogger. She is the author of the insanely helpful ebook "The Ultimate Kumon Review" and insanely useful website "31 Days to Faster Times Tables" You can follow her math tips on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @mathsinsider

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