Teaching Life Lessons with Board Games

Board games are a staple of childhood. Most of us grew up playing them with friends and family and now spend time playing some of the same games with our own children. I'm sure most of us think of games as a fun way to spend time with our kids and teach them things like how to follow a set of rules, play nicely and take turns, but what if we could use them as tools to teach more important or bigger lessons?

Recently, Davis had a couple of friends over and they were playing The Game of Life. Watching the three of them play was pretty eye opening for me as I haven't really had the opportunity to play board games with kids other than Davis in a long time. As they were setting up the game, the other two kids both chose the career path and Davis chose the college path. I must admit I had a proud mama moment when I heard his response to their question as to why he would take the longer route.

Davis explained to his friends that while taking the college path means you wait longer to get to the first paycheck space, you get higher salaries with the college careers than you do with the non-college careers. I had the best feeling when he added, "that's why I'm going to college after high school."

As I thought about this interaction later on I realized that a big part of the reason for Davis responding in this way was because of how I explained the game to him the first time we played together. When I was telling him about the difference between the career path and the college path, I explained it in terms of real life situations. I told him that usually, a person who goes to college has an easier time getting a job that pays better than a person who hasn't gone to college. I also explained that in the game, just like in real life, it takes longer to get to the first paycheck spot and you have to pay for college but it works out better most of the time because your salary is higher.

Another game I've realized teaches a good life lesson is Monopoly. This is one of Davis' favorite games and he really has started to play with a little bit more strategy behind what properties he's buying. He checks to see how much money he has before he decides to purchase something. He pays attention to whether or not we're landing on properties he owns so he can collect the rent money. He's learning some important lessons in managing money while having fun.

I know these lessons might seem a little heavy for young kids but I think the earlier they start learning these types of things, the better the lesson sticks. If they're having fun while learning, the lessons stick even better because they don't feel like they're learning.

What are some other games you can use to teach kids important life lessons while they're having fun?

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