Powerful Strategy Games to Help Children Think

Everyone needs to think! I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that many people base their decisions on feelings rather than thinking. I’ll admit that I prefer to eat chocolate to vegetables, even though vegetables are a healthier choice. What about you?

You can give your child a head start in life by teaching them to think clearly. In particular, they should acquire the following thinking skills:

Logic – results are based on reasoned thinking

Brainstorming – looking at all possible choices

Consequences – investigating the results of a choice

Linear Planning – a series of steps leading to a goal

Logic is the best way to make good choices. A logical approach to a problem will help bypass the emotions and the troubles they can bring. Although you may ultimately decide to go with your feelings, at least you have considered a reasoned and wise solution. Children who play Checkers will soon discover that someone who can think logically will beat someone who simply moves pieces at random.

Brainstorming teaches them to think beyond the normal expectations. What may seem obvious as a short term goal may be a bad decision in the long term, and vice-versa. There may also be an easier or better way of achieving that goal. A classic example is the game of Chess. In 1858, Paul Morphy played a game against two opponents working together. His sixteenth move of the game saw him lose his queen, which would normally be a very bad move. However, he won the game on his very next move!

Consequences are one of the most important thinking skills a child can acquire. Although one choice may seem more attractive, we need to consider the results of this action before making a decision. Boxes is a simple two player pen-and-paper game where each player takes turns to draw a line between two dots on a piece of paper to create boxes. Children soon learn that placing a line in the wrong place can earn their opponent many boxes. This is something I learned the hard way as I played against my son one day! Children need to consider the consequences of every line they draw, just as they will need to think about every decision they make later in life when the results may be much more serious than losing a game.

Linear planning is another important long term strategy skill. Many people have goals, such as financial independence or having good relationships with their family, but they don’t know how to achieve them. Linear planning can help break up what seems to be an unachievable goal into a series of manageable, small steps. Tower of Hanoi Card Game is based on the puzzle of the same name, where three piles of disordered cards must be assembled, in order, according to simple rules. Although it may seem unachievable when you first look at the cards, you can always ‘do the impossible’ by using logic to examine the consequences of a move and breaking it down into a series of smaller, achievable goals. My eleven year old son can complete the Tower of Hanoi Card Game in less than ten minutes, but it has taken him a lot of practice to achieve this.

As children learn problem-solving skills such as Logic, Brainstorming, Consequences and Linear Planning, they are preparing for their future. Although there are many commercial games available, free strategy games like Checkers, Chess, Boxes and Tower of Hanoi Card Game can make learning these skills fun. Isn’t that worth considering for your child’s future?

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