As a child I remember spending countless summer afternoons playing monopoly better known as ‘vyapari’, the convent educated actually translating it to English as ‘Business’ then!!!
I carried my prized possession proudly when visiting nana-nani house during summer holidays for it was double the fun playing it with so many more people aka mama, cousins and occasionally nanaji. Cold winter days, rainy afternoons or no-homework days, I remember one unanimous answer from me and my sister – let’s play ‘vyapari’. We were so excited at the prospect of laying out the pseudo cash, becoming the banker, collecting fine and sending the opponent to jail, wishfully forever!!
Sometimes I wonder how and why we played so much of this simple game and why is it that we almost never got bored of it? Apart from having fun, which seemed like the single goal of life back then, did we actually gain anything by playing monopoly? Should I have spent sometime learning a life-skill rather?
So I sort of didn’t really play monopoly so much with my kids. But then kids have other sources of getting introduced to games, especially popular ones. So I eventually started playing monopoly with my 5 year old.
Today I realize that ‘Vyapaari’ is actually are way more than just fun for children. They’re actually an essential part of the everyday learning, also helping kids bond with their friends and family. More importantly, board games are an effective medium of teaching kids math and several important life-skills.
You may not actually realize, you may not even be making a conscious effort but here are 7 ways in which this modest board game has helped my 5 year old.
# Thinking ahead
My kids live in the moment. When they wake up in the morning, there is no urgency to get ready for school. It’s hard for them to think beyond the immediate task which could be brushing their teeth.
Board games usually require you to think not just about this particular turn but also next few turns. The ability of thinking ahead while playing games have, I feel helped my kids think ahead in real life too. Ofcourse this transition did not happen overnight but these have been excellent and I must admit, effective teaching moments.
# Making tough decisions
While playing this game, you constantly need to make some tough decisions, many a times you need to pick between equally rewarding or punishing options. In the process, the kids build an ability to take decisions.
# Actions and their Consequences
Like any other kid, mine too want to experience the thrill of success. They are fully into the game and will do anything to win. So their fertile mind starts analyzing. They start internalizing the fact that their action can have positive or negative consequences for themselves and the opponent, a mindset that helps you think smart about consequences in real world too.
While playing monopoly, I saw that my children learnt to focus despite distractions. They could focus even when other players were chatting, sharing insights or busy debiting their cards. This almost never happens when I speak to them about focusing on the work at hand aka drinking milk without spilling it.
# Mental Math
From addition, subtraction to greater and lesser than concepts and counting, this is an excellent edutainment for young kids. What I admire most is the fact that my son wants to repeatedly do these calculations, over and over again at each move. How effortless has math become suddenly. Interestingly, the often easy to read vocabulary also promotes self-reading for budding readers. More importantly, with all the hands-on experiences in pseudo buying and selling, my kids find it easy to relate math in everyday life.
This game is also about ‘Own it ALL’, it’s about working as a team against the opponent. It teaches you to collaborate and communicate in a controlled environment. Since the team that collaborates well wins, my kids are more than willing to accept inputs from others (which otherwise is next to impossible) and make best decisions for the group.
# Learning to wait for their turn
Children never really wait for their turn, do they? A few games and my kids quickly memorized that making a rash out of turn statement or decision has immediate consequences. And that it may actually make them lose points or fall behind the other players. A lesson learnt well learnt!!
Hope you found this useful. Know of any other games, which 5 year olds will both enjoy and learn from? Do drop in a line in the comments.