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By Cristin Howard

Play is one of the most important ways that our children learn. It’s the way that we’re programmed to learn. So, harnessing the power of play is a great way to help your kid learn all sorts of life skills without them even realizing it.

Having a range of reading options or maths practice tools for your child is brilliant. But kids thrive on variety. And that’s why it can be a great idea to incorporate strategy games like chess into your routine. There are also loads of fantastic strategy games to try beyond chess. Some of our family favorites include Onitama, Santorini, and Blokus.

Here are a few of the things that playing strategy games, like chess, can do for your child.

Improve Memory

Learning and playing chess is one big opportunity to exercise your working memory. When you’re starting, you need to hold all of the rules in your mind. As you get better, you begin to build a library of your past games.

Your child will need to think about their previous games to learn what does and doesn’t work in a game. To improve their strategy, they need to keep reviewing what they’re experienced already. This is an effective tool to strengthen their memory skills.

Encourage Creativity and Problem Solving

The key to winning in strategy games is to try different approaches. Your child will soon realize that if they keep doing the same thing over and over, they’ll not get anywhere. This will give them the push to start trying more creative approaches to problem-solving.

Teach Concentration

There’s no denying that modern technology pushes our children, and us, towards having shorter attention spans. Games of strategy require you to focus on the game for an extended period. Playing these sorts of games with your child is a great way to help them stretch their ability to focus and concentrate.

Compound Skills Practice

Plenty of teachers will tell you that kids can learn a skill in one class and, somehow, appear to completely forget that skill in the next class. Schools can unintentionally teach children to separate the things they learn. They might be great at math but then not apply it in another situation.

Strategy games require your kids to use many different skills. They can involve memory, math, and literacy. Combining all of these skills into a single game teaches your child that they can take what they learn and use it in various scenarios.


Life is full of knocks. We have a duty as parents to teach our children how to deal with them. This means giving them opportunities to fail in a safe space. This teaches them how to brush themselves off and try again.

Strategy games can take a little while to master. This means your child is going to experience failure and frustration. You can help them through this experience and give them confidence to have another go—perfect practice for life.


Being patient is hard. Any parent who has had to sit on their hands while their toddler does something themselves is intimately aware of this fact. As hard as it is for you, kids find waiting even harder.

Waiting for your turn is an integral part of strategy games. So it’s an excellent setting for your child to practice waiting and learn patience.

Big Picture Thinking

To become a master of strategy games, your child needs to learn how to focus on more than one thing at once. They need to think about each move and how it affects the overall strategy. This helps your child to learn to think in a longer-term way.

Children who can weigh their actions against long term goals are set up to succeed. This sort of thinking helps children grow into adults who can make good decisions with money and career choices.

Hopefully, you’ll find the inspiration to add some strategy games into the enrichment activities you share with your child. Just like reading together, playing together has a wide range of benefits for your child.

Author Bio: Cristin Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Cristin writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase.

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