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It is no secret that play-based learning improves the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children. Researchers now believe that certain board games, like Chutes and Ladders and Monopoly, can also help enhance their math skills.
The team at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, Chile, came to this conclusion after analyzing the results of 19 studies. They were conducted between 2000 and 2023. All but one of the studies focused on the relationship between math skills and board games.
In these studies, kids ages 3-9 played board games under the supervision of teachers or trained adults. The 20-minute sessions were held twice a week for about six weeks. In some cases, one set of kids (the intervention group) played number-centric board games, while the other (the control group) played board games that did not require math skills. In other studies, both the intervention and control groups played number-based games. They were, however, given different games, like Monopoly and Dominoes.
The participants' math skills were assessed before and after each study. The researchers looked for improvement in four key categories. They included the ability to name numbers and demonstrate simple number knowledge — such as "nine is greater than three." Changes in the kids' abilities to add and subtract and their interest in math were also noted.
The results of the study were published in the journal Early Years on July 6, 2023. It revealed that playing number-centric board games helps improve the children's math skills in over half of the four areas. Additionally, nearly a third of the children in the intervention groups scored higher on math tests than those in the control groups.
The researchers hope their findings will inspire the creation of new board games specially designed for classroom learning. Meanwhile, boost your math skills by organizing a game night or two with family and friends this summer — it all adds up!
Resources: NewAtlas.com, TaylorandFrancisgroup.com, Popsci.com