Board games are a seemingly never-ending source of educational opportunities helping kids with reading, writing, math, and more. But the value of learning strategy is often overlooked in traditional education so playing games, and especially strategy games, is an invaluable supplement to a child’s learning foundation.
But why should the skill of strategy be valued so highly? Strategic thinking goes beyond plotting warpaths or planning a hostile takeover, it is a foundation for independent learning and problem solving that is impossible to replicate. Learning about strategy will help a child think two steps ahead and aid them in many mathematical and science-driven academic fields.
Here is a look at some of the best games you can play with kids, both young and old, to help them develop a strategic mindset that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.
This is one of the simplest games you can play and very young kids will snap it in a heartbeat. It is a good introduction to strategic gameplay as it is over fast and doesn’t require much of an attention span. But kids will quickly see they need to see a pattern or think ahead to master the game.
Risk Board Game
The aim of the game is world domination by building armies, expanding territory, invading, and defending. The name risk board game says it all, take risks in the hopes that they will pay off and let you gain control fast, or play it safe and wait for other players to fail before you pounce.
This is a more complicated game for kids who want to learn strategy, but it is a fantastic addition to any family game night. The first few plays might take longer as kids learn the ins and out of the game but once they get a firm grasp on it there will be no stopping them. Being strategic about trades or the path you build your roads on will be the difference between success and failure. There is also a Catan Junior version if kids want to get started as young as 6.
Many parents try to avoid video games like the plague but in a life where everything gets more digitized by the minute, this is doing more harm than good to kids. Let them explore the world of Minecraft to build fantastic worlds of their own. This fantastic 3D game let kids build structures from their wildest imaginations, all while learning a whole host of intangible skills.
Many strategy board games are battle-themed which might be a bit much for young players to understand. Agricola keeps all the best aspects of a strategy game and implores players to compete and collaborate simultaneously to build the biggest farm. It is recommended for children 12 and up and players must think on their feet as they build a family, grow crops, expand their land, and improve their shed.
Tic-tac-toe is probably the first strategy game kids learn but this is only entertaining for the first round or two. Sequence takes this basic game to a new level with the addition of cards and chips. Players draw cards from a deck and place chips strategically on the board to try and create a sequence. There is an easier version for young children, Sequence Kids, which features fun animal characters.
Turn back the hands of time for this prehistoric game where you must gain knowledge to pave your way out of the stone age. Gather supplies, make weapons, hunt, and use natural resources wisely and you might just make it out. Fail, and you set back evolution a few thousand years, succeed and you might just help humanity make it to the moon! This kind of game forces kids to think far ahead instead of just playing what seems right in the moment. If you use up your resources too quickly, you will never see the dawn of a new era.
You can never go wrong with a good old-fashioned game of Battleship. Kids quickly learn how to play and it provides a level playing field for players of all ages. Players must find the best strategy to fool their opponent rather than randomize their ship placement. It is key to keep track of the ships you have sunk to know which new coordinates to call out and the linear grid of the game is great for right brain development. The game is filled with suspense but is perfect for young players as it doesn’t last too long and the rules are simple.