Our household is filled with board games. We just adore them and can keep playing for hours on rainy days while sipping a yummy hearty homemade hot chocolate and eating some French crêpes!
Young kids can have difficulties focusing for long hours and they might quickly lose interest. I am personally very competitive (read this as – I am a “bad loser” kind of person!) and this was not a trait I wanted my son to have.
I really wanted him to play collaboratively, learn how to react in a positive way when losing, and learn to appreciate a win without undermining anyone else. This is where ‘collaborative board games’ come handy.
So, what are collaborative board games?
Collaborative board games are board games in which we will work together towards a common goal. All players can win or lose together as a group.
Players typically try reaching the same pre-determined goal – if they successfully achieve this outcome, they all win the game together. Players would lose the game when not reaching the common goal before a certain event ends the game.
Cooperation Over Competition
No doubt a certain amount of friendly competition can have some benefits and can be enjoyed every so often, but emerging researches show that competition can be deleterious in many ways.
For example, competition could damage self-confidence and nurture self-doubt in children making them dependent on external praise and external sources of validation. These researches show that encouraging cooperation over competition could lead to greater outcomes among children.
Learning to cooperate with one another helps children build stronger bonds which will help them develop their social skills which are key to their social development.
Cooperative board games are tools to help parents nurture this cooperative facet with their children. We love these board games because we all work together as one united team against a common opponent.
We lose or we win together. The game is no longer about winning or losing but rather it is about playing together to achieve the same common goal. The competition doesn’t tint the game in any manner.
By working together, children can understand how to manage their sentiments and reactions. Cooperative learning reinforces bonding and children generally feel more emotionally connected to their peers, siblings and/or parents.
Common Opponent & Randomness
With cooperative board games, players typically play against the same opponent: the game itself or the opposing forces in the game.
The image above shows the game: “Pas le loup”
For example, in the game Pas le Loup!, players work together to find the matching cards without finding the wolves. Players work together to find all the matching cards before the wolves eat them all. All the players are therefore all playing together against the wolves (the common opponent).
The image above shows the game: “Mon premier jeu des formes”
In the game, Mon premier jeu des Formes, players need to constitute families of shapes before the nasty shapes constitute their own family. All the players are therefore playing together against the naughty shapes (the common opponent).
The image above shows the game: “Orchard”
In the famous game Orchard, players work as a team to pick the fruits from the trees before the raven reaches the end of the path in the orchard. All players are playing together collaboratively against the raven (the common opponent).
The challenge in the game comes often from the randomness provided by the game – for example, each turn, dice can be rolled, or cards can be drawn from the shuffled deck. This randomness can generate new goals, objectives or challenges; thus keeping your kids entertain at all times and making it progressively more difficult for them!
We all know that young children’s attention span can vary greatly and sometimes – let’s just face it – they won’t want to play any games they have played with over and over.
This is when rotating between few different board games which have different themes can be helpful. Children will focus on the theme and the story around the theme, rather than the fact that the rules or end-result are similar.
Note that most cooperative board games will give you few different options on how to play and how to change or increase the challenges. Make sure you mix things up before investing into too many board games!
You could even extend the theme by creating a small play tray which relates to the board game you just played. I wrote an entire blog post to explain how to quickly and easily set up small world play trays. With these easy tips, you could increase language exposure.
Increased Language Exposure
The game material is typically designed for small children’s hands. It can be used to improve fine motor skills, or to encourage free play.
I encourage you to talk with your child about the colours and shapes of the pieces (if any) or talk about the rules and how you can together win against your common opponent.
This will stimulate your child’s language, auditory and creative skills as well as enhancing the joy of playing while bonding with you. Do so in French to encourage them speaking in French while playing board games with you. You could even make this a ‘French-only’ moment during which only French is spoken.
Importance of Chacun Son Tour
The best and most effective way to teach your child “chacun son tour” remains while having fun and playing games involving multiple participants.
Collaborative board games are great as they naturally invite kids to wait for their turns, and help them learn the meaning of “chacun son tour”. The ability to follow the rules and wait for his/her turn and respect others’ turns too will help understand and follow rules when starting school.
I wrote a detailed blog post detailing how to help your child understanding the meaning of ‘chacun son tour’.
What Do You Think?
Do you have any other reasons why you are playing cooperative board games with your kids in French? Or any other benefits you see? I’d love to hear from you below.