Strategy Games Help Your Child Think

Thinking skills are so important! When I look around me, it seems that most people make choices based on feelings rather than thinking. Even though I know that vegetables are a healthier choice than chocolate, I still prefer chocolate. What about you? Do you let emotions rule your decisions?

Children who develop good thinking skills early in life have a head start. Some of the skills that are especially important are:

    Logic - decisions are based on reason, not emotion
    Brainstorming - thinking about any choices beyond the obvious ones
    Consequences - finding out where different choices may lead
    Linear Planning - breaking a difficult goal into smaller, manageable steps

Logic is the best way to make decisions, bypassing the emotions and the difficulties they can bring. You still have the option of following your gut feelings, but you have investigated what would be a wiser, reasoned approach to the problem. Checkers (or Draughts) is a game that soon teaches children that a player who thinks logically will win over another who simply moves pieces according to their feelings.

Brainstorming will teach children to think beyond the obvious choices. This is especially true when you need to compare long term goals and short term goals, where quick decisions may prove costly. A classic example comes from the 1858 Chess game between Paul Morphy and two opponents who were working together. In his sixteenth move he lost his Queen - a very bad move normally. However, since he had the long term goal of winning the game, he was willing to lose his Queen in order to win, which he did on the very next move!

Consequences are one of the most vital thinking skills a child can gain. One choice may appear quite attractive but we must consider the results of following this choice before making a decision. The pen and paper game Boxes is a simple two-player game that has each player alternately drawing lines between dots on a sheet of paper, trying to create boxes. Placing a line in the wrong place can give the other player lots of boxes, something I learned the hard way when I played against one of my sons! It is much easier to learn the lesson about the consequences of poor choices while playing a game rather than later in life when the results may be much more serious.

Linear Planning is another very important strategy skill. Our dreams and goals, such as strong family relationships or financial security, may seem unattainable because we don't know how to achieve them. Linear Planning can help develop a path to a goal by breaking it up into smaller, manageable steps. Tower of Hanoi Card Game is based on the puzzle of the same name. Three piles of random cards must be assembled in the correct order according to some simple rules. Although it may seem impossible when you first look at the cards, it is always possible to put them into the right order using logic to examine the consequences of each move and reducing it to a series of achievable small steps. My eleven year old son can now solve the card game in under ten minutes after much practise.

Logic, Brainstorming, Consequences and Linear Planning are important problem solving skills that will prepare children for their future. There are many commercial games that can help teach these skills, but free strategy games such as Checkers, Chess, Boxes and Tower of Hanoi Card Game can help make these skills fun to learn. Isn't it worth thinking about that for your child's future?

Link from our Strategy Games Help Your Child Think page to our Home page


Thank you for visiting our website!