Encouraging Grankids to Play Board Games Instead of Video Games

Encouraging Grankids to Play Boardgames

Playing Boardgames with Your Grandkids

Quite honestly, once my grandson reached the age where he could turn on his mother’s iPad and navigate around, I wasn’t sure I was ever going to see him without his nose buried in it. When I would go over and visit, I’d get a perfunctory wave and “Hi Mimi,” then his nose went right back into the tablet and I was completely tuned out.

And when he came over to spend the night, all he wanted to do — or so I thought — was watch an action movie on TV or play with the tablet, which had become an extension of his hand.

Spending Time Together

When he was younger I bought a subscription for him to Highlights High Five magazine, a monthly magazine with stories, crafts, games, puzzles, recipes and activities we could play and do together. We had a blast exploring the magazines from cover to cover.

At some point, he lost interest in the magazine — about the time he discovered his mother’s iPad.

I missed those times together, so I decided to do something about it. I still have some of the boardgames I had saved from when my girls were young. They were the ones they could never get enough of playing… Lincoln Logs, Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Clue, Monopoly and Scrabble.

The next time Cash came over for “hang out” time with me (he is now way too old to call it a play date!), I asked him if he wanted to do something with me that was his mom’s absolute favorite thing to do when she was his age.

I think he was intrigued because he agreed. With that, I pulled out Candy Land.

I’ve loved this game since I was a kid and his mom loved it too! It’s gone through several iterations, but the basic concept is still the same and great for helping kids learn how to recognize colors, practice counting, and follow simple rules.

I figured he would want to play one game then go back to his iPad. Boy, was I wrong! We must have played it four or five times that day, during which we talked about what he was doing in kindergarten.

Then he wanted to play a different game, and he asked if I had any more boardgames his mom liked to play when she was young.

I think we both realized again how much fun we’ve always had just hanging out.

It Starts With Us

Along the way that day, I discovered something very important: he purely and simply wanted 100 percent of my undivided attention, something I honestly had not given to him for a while.

It never occurred to me then that he had been burying his nose in the iPad because I was busy on my computer and he didn’t know how to verbalize what he wanted, but he did that day — and believe me, it won’t happen again.

Childhood passes in a flash and I don’t want to miss any of his. I want to be actively involved and present for my grandkids as much as possible.

I want to be part of teaching them things and watching them make discoveries.

Valuable Lessons

The next game I pulled out was Chutes and Ladders, a classic in which players have to land on good deeds to climb the ladders to the top and reach the last square without sliding back to the bottom. We had both been knocked off several times right near the top and Cash was getting a bit frustrated. Truth be told, so was I!

He asked me why it was such a hard game to play. That gave me the perfect segue into a discussion of what I consider a very valuable life lesson: to never give up — no matter how far you think you’ve fallen, you need to pick yourself up and keep trying.

When Cash left that day, I started thinking about what I want to get him for the holidays. I know one gift will definitely be a magazine subscription, one that has projects we can do together.

The other will be a board game we can play together, one that will continue to build on the skills he’s learning in kindergarten and will hopefully become a favorite of his that he’ll be able to play when he has a child.

I’ve narrowed the field down to Scrabble Jr., Boggle Junior, Zingo and Monopoly Junior.

I’ve always loved Scrabble. When my kids were young and we went over to my parents’ home for the evening, my mom invariably pulled out Scrabble and all of us would play (one time we even got my dad to play — the one and only time!).

I still laugh remembering how my daughter tried to explain to my dad that he had to make words by connecting the letters he had to what was already on the board, and that he couldn’t just up and make a word anywhere in order to get a good score! He didn’t buy it and went ahead and put his word wherever he wanted.

The one game I think may be my all time favorite because of what it taught me is Monopoly. It was playing this game I learned about money: how to make it and how to lose it — fast! I loved Boardwalk and Park Place, and the Railroads. I loved buying houses and hotels — but most of all, I loved being the banker and handing out the money.

It’ll be a hard decision to make, but whichever games I end up buying for Cash for the holidays, the one thing I know for sure is we’ll have a blast playing together!