On the most recent episode of The Homeschool Sisters Podcast, Kara and I talked about gameschooling. As a game addict, it was such a fun episode to record… and it got me thinking about the factors that make for successful gameschooling and those that help to create a memorable game night. In today’s post, I am sharing some tips. When you are finished reading, I’d love for you to share what family game night looks like in your house!
10 Tips for a Successful Family Game Night
First, why family game night is important
When you sit down to play a game with your family, you are building relationships, making space for important conversations, practicing all-important social skills, working on academic skills, and you’re making memories. On a recent episode of The Homeschool Sisters, Julie Bogart said:
Don’t forget that what you’re creating now is what they will remember and enjoy talking about then.
Isn’t that so true of game night? Sometimes, when you are sitting down to play Candyland for the nine millionth time, it doesn’t feel important… but it is. You are building something larger, something that you can’t see right now. Play does matter.
So, without further ado, here are my tips for a memorable family game night.
1. Pick a day and time that works for the entire family
I am using the term “family game night” here because I think we typically imagine families gathered around a game board in the evening, but you can play games at any time of day… especially if you are a homeschooler. In our home, we play games at various times of the day. We’ve played after breakfast, during lunch, on the soccer sidelines, and even in the car.
If you are starting a family game night tradition from scratch, you must find out what works for your unique family. Set a day and a time that works for all members of your family and then try to stick to it. If a weekly game night is too overwhelming, try the first Saturday of the month instead. Or, start a tradition of playing games on holidays. The most important thing is to pick something that you think will work and then stick to it.
2. Choose the perfect game… or two
When our family sits down to play together, I usually have two games in mind. One is the one I intend to play, and the other is a back-up. Sometimes, games go wrong and it’s okay to ditch that one and try another. A fresh start can help!
3. Turn off all technology
Technology is wonderful, but you don’t need it during your game night. Put your phone on silent and leave it in another room. Turn off the television. Enjoy this moment with your family.
4. If you feed them, they will come
I’m often asked how I got my children to love games so much. It’s a hard one to answer, because we’ve been gaming from the beginning, but I know this: kids love food and fancy drinks. When we first started Poetry Teatimes over here, the kids balked… until I gave them treats and fancy tea cups. So, grab some popcorn and a favorite treat. Add a cup of hot cocoa or hot cider. If you feed them, they will come!
5. Smile, relax, and let yourself have fun!
In this go-go-go-do-all-the-things culture, it can be hard to pause and just be. Sometimes it can even feel uncomfortable. Try to relax into it, to be mindful of the moment, and know that you are creating memories with your children that will last a lifetime!
6. Be patient and don’t expect perfection
Yes, our family loves games and we play often… but please don’t think our game playing is perfect. It isn’t. When you see our Instagram feed, you are getting the silent version of our gaming. My kids fight over the rules. They accuse each other of cheating. We have had our share of tears, sore losers, and braggarts. Sometimes, it can be hard to be patient but please know this: Even these tough days are important. You are teaching your children to take turns, to cooperate, to problem-solve, to resolve conflicts, and to lose … and win… with grace. These are life skills. So the next time someone flips a Sorry board and storms off (this happened over here last Saturday), take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is learning.
7. Thank them
This may sound silly, but I promise you it has helped grow gamers over here. When you are finished playing with your children, thank them. Tell them you had fun playing with them and that you are looking forward to the next game night. And then…
8. Plan the next one
When creating a new habit or tradition, it can be easy to forget… especially now when the holiday season is on the horizon. When you finish playing, plan the next family game night then. Pick a day and a time and write it down so that you will remember.
9. Add some variety
When preparing for your next family game night, switch things up a little. Let your children take turns picking games. Try a new game, or a long-forgotten favorite from the far reaches of your game closet. Sometimes it can be fun to add music, or to turn off the lights and have a candle burning. (My kids love to pretend we’ve lost power!) Do what works for your family.
10. Take learning to the next level by pairing books and games
I believe all games offer educational value, but if you are looking to dabble in some gameschooling, a simple way to start would be to pair favorite picture books with educational games.
Do you want to learn more about gameschooling?
Are you looking for the perfect game?
I am a lifelong game lover and addict. In this post, I have provided tips for selecting the perfect game for your family and I’ve also compiled our favorite games, listed by subject:
Do you love Gameschooling?
I rely heavily on educational games in our homeschool. Read more here:
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me: What are your tips for a memorable family game night? Share here!
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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