Board Game Play in Classrooms Can Overcome the Cliques

By Reisa Schwartzman from Griddly Games

Vancouver, BC – (June 15, 2011) – One day Emma’s teacher found her sitting alone at lunch, looking sad and upset. She could barely bite into her sandwich “What’s the matter, Emma?” her teacher asked.

Later that afternoon, Jonas was standing alone by the basketball court after school. Jonas’s mom asked him why he didn’t go play with John and Steve, who were shooting hoops. He told his mom he just didn’t feel like it, so they walked home.

The truth was that Jonas and Emma were facing the same problem: They both felt left out, and their feelings were hurt.

Everyone feels left out occasionally.  That is natural. However, sometimes kids are purposefully excluded from group play with others. So how can we bridge such gaps when they occur? More specifically board games play a role in the classroom to help kids feel good about themselves and promote inclusion of all kids?

Cliques are groups of friends, but not all groups of friends are cliques. A clique is a group of kids who hang out together and won’t let others join in. Usually one or two popular kids control who gets to be in the clique and who is left out. Kids may act much differently than they did before they were part of the clique. They may even act differently today from how they were yesterday. It can be confusing, both for the kids themselves and the adults around them.

Board games offer a fun and constructive approach to the problems of cliques and exclusionary behavior.  When game play is brought into the classroom, as well as to before – and after – school programs, students are forced to communicate with their peers outside of their comfort zone and outside of their cliques.

Yet board games bring even more benefits to kids.  They often are forced to problem solve through the game play.  Learning how to deal with dilemmas is a critically important life skill; board games like checker, chess and others require players to look ahead to solve problems. Learning to win with humility and to lose with grace can go a long way as well in encouraging healthy socialization. No one wants a sore loser for a friend.  Board games can promote new friendships that cut across of kids’ cliques, and can help them form healthier interpersonal skills and relationships.

Interactive board games also require players to communicate effectively.  Some games reward the best communicators. Learning to communicate with those whom a kid is less comfortable is a valuable skill worth learning for future life challenges.  Well-developed communication skills will always provide a kid with an advantage.

Playing games with friends and new friends also can be a wonderful venue for kids to learn from each other in ways that can carry through the rest of their lives.  Playing board games often bring people together in ways that may not have been considered before.  Enabling kids to gain insight into different people and what makes them “tick” can promote closer friendships and family relationships.

Cooperative games also teach teamwork in the classroom, yet another essential skill both in the workplace and in family life.  Because players with the best team skills are more likely to be winners in board games, the games foster the development of the key elements of teamwork – listening, questioning, persuading, respecting, helping, sharing and participating.

Playing games that are educational and bring knowledge of specific facts and concepts can be used to facilitate review in the most positive environment and making students have greater respect for each other while working together to win the game.

Perhaps most fundamentally, fun and unpressured competition is a wonderful motivational concept that is helps for everyone.  Competition encourages self-improvement and to strive to be the best that one can be.

By having board games in the classroom, successful educators offer inexpensive and easily accessibly quality entertainment while also teaching the skills that will take students from being stuck in cliques to socially responsible individuals who are not afraid to step out of their boxes. Consider equipping your classroom, as well as before and after school programs with a wide variety of games.

Your reward after your students play a great board game? Emma will eat her sandwich with her friends and Jonas will throw the ball with the guys.  And you’ve made your mark on two more young lives.

About Griddly Games: Griddly Games are games that get you going. The company, based in Richmond, near Vancouver, British Columbia, creates award-winning party and board games that deliver innovative, engaging fun that brings people together. Founded in 2007 by Reisa Schwartzman, a mother of three boys, who took it upon herself to deliver wholesome family fun that multiple ages could enjoy at once, Griddly Games offers products that inspire laughter and fun, while promoting an active and healthy lifestyle. Griddly Games instill a strict company philosophy to encourage social interaction, learning, strategy and challenges that anyone (from across the grid) can enjoy.  To discover more about Griddly Games, visit www.griddlygames.com and get all of the most up-to-date, immediate information by interacting with the company on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.