Parenting Perspective: Crazy Eights with Nana

April 14, 2011 7:05:47 AM PDT
Nearly every Sunday afternoon, my mother (aka: Nana) comes over and stays for dinner. I enjoy having three generations at the dinner table together sharing a meal and discussing our highlights of the previous week.

Now, my five-year-old son has added a post-dinner ritual: a boisterous game of "Crazy Eights." We all play, except for three-year-old Emma, who likes to crawl under the dinner table tickling our feet.

Luke, who is extremely competitive, cheers and howls when he thinks he is winning a hand. When he is losing, he theatrically groans and fake cries. It is all very fun and, apparently, also educational.

Child development experts say card and board games help can help teach your child about aspiration, success, and disappointment. Nearly all games involve taking turns, sharing dice or a spinner, waiting for your turn, patience, and learning how to be a good sport.

We've found Luke has become a much better sport through the process of losing and still having a great time. Games also give you the opportunity to teach your child about rules, integrity, honesty, and luck. ?Games also can help increase your child's ability to focus his attention. That's part of the reason why we don't push Emma into playing: her attention span is much shorter than her brother's.

Besides helping to acquaint your child with "life lessons" and to practice valuable social skills, most good children's games also give preschoolers the opportunity to sharpen certain academic skills since they usually involve either counting or matching suits or numbers.

In addition, a study led by Dr. Karen Bierman, professor of psychology at Penn State University, found that preschoolers who are taught lessons about sharing and listening tend to score higher in both social and academic readiness for school.

But, honestly, we don't play Crazy Eights each Sunday night with Nana for the social, developmental or academic benefits. We play because it's something we can all do together as a family and it's fun.

Happy parenting! Cecily

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