Now that kids are learning from home due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s important that they keep developing other skills – not just their education.

Philip Bradley, the Head of Swiss International School in Qatar, found an article he published in May 2019 while students were stuck indoors due to the summer heat, and has re-published it below for parents who are eager to keep their kids entertained at home while schools remain closed.

With the summer heat and indoor lunch times the SISQ library has filled with students eager to play “tabletop” games. It was clear that students were having fun, but there was also a wide range of important skills that were being developed  and I encourage all parents to establish a family gaming habit and to help your children learn by committing to regular game times – at least once a week!

Games promote a range of key cognitive skills:
Dice, counter, letter, word and card games help children learn number bonds, sequence, add, subtract, sort, spell and categorise. The repetitive nature of some of these tasks is critical for building strong neural pathways that allow students to be fast, efficient and confident in their number, word and letter knowledge. Many games promote and improve memory skills; “game play” requires a person to consider different outcomes and hold these possibilities in their working memory while they evaluate the merits of each and then make their play.

Playing a game from start to finish helps children develop their concentration skills, which are essential for completing daily tasks and doing well in school. In addition to logic and reasoning skills, many games require children to use creative approaches, think laterally, solve problems, make predictions and test theories.

Games develop motor skills:
Setting up and moving all of those game pieces, rolling dice, and shuffling cards help little children and even older ones develop their fine motor skills, dexterity and hand-eye coordination. Packing things away is just as important and a good way to promote a responsible attitude.

Social skills, fair play and family time:
There are numerous social and “soft skills” to be learned from games. Grit, resilience, perseverance, patience and the ability to cope with frustration, disappointment and defeat are critical skills which games can teach and that children need to practice. No one likes an arrogant winner or a bad loser and being able to discuss these emotions and model appropriate behaviours is of great benefit to children and an important part of growing up.

Games are also a way for families to spend focused uninterrupted time together; including grandparents who will know all the tricks! And yes everyone has to put their phone away!

Something for adults too:
Finally there is a lot of research that shows that older adults can gain both cognitive and emotional health benefits from tabletop games – enjoy!

A few games that have been popular with SISQ students:

  • Othello – 2 player counter game
  • Chess – 2 player game
  • Set – multiplayer Game of Visual Perception card game
  • Rummikub – 4 player numbers strategy game using tiles and lateral thinking
  • Quixo – 2 or 4 player strategy game similar to noughts and crosses
  • Marrakech – 2 – 4 players, a tactile strategy game
  • Scrabble or Bananagrams – 2 or more players word play games
  • Chinese Checkers – strategy board game 2- 6 players
  • Jigsaws – if you have the space keep one going all the time


Author: Philip Bradley, Head of Swiss International School in Qatar