I just spent the evening playing board games with my four year old son. For a lot of people this would be an exercise in boredom, but it shouldn't be. Teaching games is something that is very similar to teaching the kind of thinking that makes software design work. It’s important, logical thinking.
Board games with young children doesn’t have to be limited to chutes and ladders and Candyland – random games with zero strategy. Kids need to LEARN strategy. The only way they will learn is to be led, hand in hand, though the process of making game decisions. For instance, tonight Adam and I played Living Labyrinth . He can’t quite read the cards, and he has a hard time making decisions about how to use the cards. But how else will he learn?
We played open hand, and I walked him through every move. I reminded him to play his card first then move, and point blank told him what moves to make and why. It wasn’t competitive, but it was a blast, and Adam learned a ton. I’m betting that next time we play he’ll remember the cards and be able to make some decisions about his card use.
After that, we played a much less sophisticated game, Guess Who? This game is a deduction game similar to the old logic puzzles with the grid that we all did in the puzzle magazines. The kicker here – Adam beat me five out of five games. I can’t explain it, unless it is just that he is a good guesser. We play fair and square, no help, no hints, and he has to sound out the name of the mystery person for his final guess. Beat my pants off.
Next time I am introducing him to Kids of Catan .
This remarkable game will not only be a great rule learning adventure, but the pieces are cool and we can make up our own games – another important skill.
Plus, I can have him play against Jeff Blankenburg next year at CodeMash.