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In my family of four, it is often my thirteen-year-old daughter who requests a family game night. This is the same thirteen-year-old who truly does not want (or need) a cell phone because she doesn’t want to become addicted to a phone. I think she’s on to something here… She craves the interaction and time with family, and time away from electronics, work and other distractions. And while some family game nights end up with someone frustrated over losing…most of the time we have fun and enjoy taking time to play together. There are a lot of benefits for families who play good ole-fashioned board games and card games.

board game

Games build character

While playing games, family members must learn how to take turns and be a good sport. Parents can model good character and sportsmanship by encouraging one another and showing how to win and lose graciously. This can be difficult for children (and some adults) to learn handle the disappointment of losing, but all the more reason to persevere with family game night.

Games develop motor skills

Rolling dice, shuffling cards, manipulating small pieces… all these tasks help young children build fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Games train your brain

Some games help kids learn math, counting, strategy, problem-solving and how to count money. Games can also help teach spelling, vocabulary and general knowledge. Playing games also requires learning and following rules. Research from Carnegie Mellon University indicates that playing a simple, board game can lead to better academic results later in school.

Games teach flexibility

Sometimes it’s difficult to get the family to agree on which game to play and when to stop. The more members in the family, the more flexibility is required. Also keep in mind to be flexible about having a regular game night… sometimes the family may be too busy or just too tired.

Games help us turn off electronics.

It’s hard to play a game (well) and have electronics on, even in the background. Try some screen-free time and put on some background music instead during game night.

Games bring families together for fun

Numerous studies show positive outcomes for kids who spend quality time interacting with their parents. When families have fun together, lasting memories are created. Be intentional about spending time together and make family game night a regular part of the schedule.

If your family schedule won’t allow for a weekly family game night, try once a month. It’s well worth the investment of time and energy.

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

Reviewed by: Alisha Barton, Program Coordinator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Miami and Champaign Counties

Sources:

Ankowski, A. & Ankowski, A. “Bringing Back Family Game Night.”  Public Broadcasting System. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/parents/expert-tips-advice/2015/07/bringing-back-family-game-night/

Laski, E. V., & Siegler, R. S. (2014). Learning from number board games: You learn what you encode. Developmental Psychology, 50(3), 853-864. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0034321

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Studies show families who eat meals together regularly benefit.  Both parents and kids are included in these benefits.  Food patterns for the future generation are healthier when families eat together. In other words, eating together today can impact healthy food patterns of tomorrow. University of Minnesota research shows that teens that ate meals together with their family ate more fruits, vegetables, dairy with a good source of calcium, and dark green vegetables. The teens also drank fewer soft drinks and had a better nutrient intake.

Quality time spent together is also increased.  The kids in families that eat together are shown to have better vocabulary skills and higher test scores.  Studies show these kids fare better physically, emotionally, and intellectually with greater self confidence.  An Iowa State University Extension study revealed that families who eat meals together teach kids table manners, family values, basic cooking skills, and a sense of community.

Studies show most families believe eating together to be very important. The surveys show 88 percent of families believe this to be very or extremely important.  The top barriers to meals together include conflicting schedules, work schedules, and kids’ activities.  This time seems to become harder to find as the kids get older and become teens.  Teen drug and alcohol use is connected to number of meals eaten together. Studies show that the more often a teen eats dinner with his or her family the less likely they are to drink alcohol, smoke or use drugs illegally.

Family Eating Dinner

In conclusion, the simple act of family meals can do so much to benefit the whole family. With the costs of food rising, cooking, and eating at home as a family certainly can be cost effective, but as stated earlier, the other benefits can really play a huge role in making that family meal a priority.

Source:  Ohio State University Extension, Ohioline, Factsheet FLM-FS-4-03.

http:/ohioline.osu.edu.

Author: Liz Smith, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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