| 7.9°C Dublin

Benefits of board games

National Game Playing Week REMEMBER the pure and simple fun you had playing Snakes & Ladders, making strategic moves on Battleship or striving to buy up all the best properties in Monopoly before your opponents snapped them up? Well, board games are coming back into fashion, with teachers and parents recognising how they're a great way of teaching kids valuable skills such as communicating verbally, sharing, waiting their turn and having playful interaction with others.

So, with this year's National Game Playing Week running from 22 to 29 October, schools across the country are gearing up for School Game Playing Day when schoolchildren will get the opportunity to play their favourite board games.

Run by Hasbro, School Game Playing Day also has an added fundraising element in that each student brings in x2, with the money raised either being put towards a school fund or donated to a local charity.

Each school that participates in School Game Playing Day also gets a voucher for six free board games from Hasbro, with the school in each county that best illustrates how much fun it had on the day – through pictures, drawings, poems, etc – receiving an additional x200 to add to its School Game Playing Day fund.

The aim of National Game Playing Week itself is to encourage children to turn away from distractions such as TV and video games and to get back to basics by playing board games with their family and friends.

In a school environment, playing board games has many benefits for children of all ages, from helping to develop their visual alertness to increasing their attention span and assisting with memory strategies and reasoning.

Games such as Boggles and Hangman, for instance, help children with their spelling and in increasing their vocabulary range. Meanwhile, quiz games such as Trivial Pursuit and Cranium can help them to learn new facts. In addition, Pictureka! is a fastpaced game to help your child develop their observational skills as well as their memory.

John Farrell, a resource teacher from Holy Family Boys National School in Askea, Co Carlow, says board games have proved to be a really fun way of helping children learn in his school.

" We been involved in School Game Playing Day for the past two to three years, but we had been playing board games prior to that.

" What kick-started it for us was some children had never seen a dice! It was a huge novelty for them, which was a big factor. It's hands-on and real; it's not virtual," he says.

In 2009, the school held its Halloween party on the same day as School Game Playing Day.

" Then, throughout the year, when it's a wet day, students play board games during break time when it's raining and they have to stay inside," explains Farrell.

Board games that students at the school play include card games, draughts, Boggle, Battleship and Snakes & Ladders.

"For classroom activities, playing board games is important because questions on chance, on probability and ratio and estimation are part of the maths curriculum anyway. Battleship, for example, is all about co-ordinates.

" When playing these games the students estimate, calculate and work out the odds as well as having great fun," explains Farrell. "In the background, they also learn how to lose and how to win and to take turns, plus there's a social element to it."

Finally, he says School Game Playing Day is a very worthwhile initiative and would encourage other schools to get involved.

Mother & Babies