Though I’ve been gaming my whole life, I’ve only been gaming with my family since 2011. Then I started buying designer board games, and it opened my eyes to a new genre of gaming. They’ve hooked me ever since.
In 2011, my oldest child was 6 and the youngest was 1. My 6-year old was just beginning to wonder about games. We started to include her in different games, as a bystander or a helper. As her interest grew, I bought a few games that I thought she might like. We tried Zooloretto and Ticket to Ride at first. Both worked well. With Ticket to Ride, I even had her watch a how-to video then teach us the game. She was, and still is a game.
Along the way, we’ve learned a few things. Below are games that should help any gaming family welcome their new gamers.
There isn’t much to do here. A game like Qwirkle is great because the pieces are nigh-indestructible. The game is about matching shapes and colors. These are skills a toddler should be learning and wanting to do. Another great game for this age would be Animal Upon Animal. Again, great pieces for kids and stacking is a great developmental skill.
For this age, ask them to help you in your games. They can assist in counting pieces and be the “banker.” These are great jobs for them, as they’ll be paying attention (maybe?) to the game and learning it as you go. Zooloretto and Ticket to Ride were both great introductions for this age. Remember, when they are young, just learning the mechanics is important. Learning how to win is something different. (A topic coming to this blog soon)
Starting at this age, you can begin to introduce some social games into the fray. Settlers of Catan is a great game for this level with the increased strategy and social aspects. Our kids started playing Small World at this age as well. They even played with each other, without us. It was hard letting them play my games without me, but I bought them for us to play. Another idea is King of Tokyo, if they can withstand the combative aspects.
More complex games like Stone Age and Dominion work well for this age. Dixit is another one that children can play younger than this, but at this age, they’ll start to “get it.” At this age, depending on the child, the sky’s the limit. One child will grasp a game that another will not. It depends on their learning style and how they best process information.
If you’re beginning this process with older children, start out on a lower rung of the ladder. Every game mentioned remains fun at any age. Have them start with the easier to learn games. Then move to the more strategic types as interested, and ability allows.
Board gaming is a great hobby for any family. I hope this guide gives you a path forward in starting this hobby with your family.