One of the biggest challenges when it comes to playing – and enjoying – games as a family is juggling multiple ages and developmental levels. So, how do you enjoy board games with toddlers underfoot? How do you have a family game night when you have children of all different ages? How do you get your big kids to be patient with your little kids?
How to Enjoy Board Games With Toddlers Underfoot: Playing Games with Children of all Different Ages and Stages
How to play – and enjoy- board games with toddlers, and when playing with kids of different ages and developmental stages
It can be challenging to have a successful family game night… especially when you have children of all different ages and developmental stages!
One kid wants to play Catan, another is arguing that Apples to Apples is a better choice and all the while you have a toddler running underfoot, knocking pieces and dissolving into a mushy mess on the floor.
So, what’s a mama to do?
Well, it’s not going to be perfect, but with a little creativity, it can be so much better!
Strategies for making family game time work for children of different ages
Here are a few ideas to make family game time a little bit easier:
- Introduce a gateway game first and play the older children’s game after.
- Encourage big kids to teach little kids how to play new games.
- Try playing cooperative games together.
- Choose to play a game with big kids during nap or quiet time.
- Play with big kids when your little one is asleep for the night.
- Consider using “teams” and have your little one be on your team, move your pawn, roll the dice, etc.
- While you play with your big kids, set your little ones up with another game at your feet. Hullabaloo is a great choice!
- Let your toddler “play” but abandon rules. Give your little one a pawn and let him move it all over the board, every which way. Your little one will feel included and have a sense of control, but you can still play with your bigs.
- Set your toddler up with an activity while you play with your big kids.
- A little bribery can work wonders, too. (Am I allowed to say this here?)
And, above all, remember this: It won’t always be this difficult. You are in a hard season and you will muddle through and come out the other side… hopefully with little gamers!
Here are a few of our family’s favorite games for toddlers and little kids
Is your favorite listed here?
Do you love Gameschooling?
I rely heavily on educational games in our homeschool. Read more here:
Do you love board games, too?
Check out these related posts:
- How to Choose the Perfect Game
- Building Your Game Closet on a Budget
- Game Closet Organization
- Finding Time to Play
- 10 Tips for a Successful Family Game Night
- Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling with Games
- How to Grow Gamers Using Amazing Gateway Games
- How to Enjoy Board Games with Kids Who Fight … And Still Have Fun
- Gameschooling: Learning Through Play
- 100 Games and Picture Books for Play-Based Learning
- Gameschool Resources
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me: How do you enjoy playing board games as a family when you have toddlers underfoot or children of varying ages and developmental levels? 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