Best Educational Games

What are the best educational games that parents can play with their children?

Most parents struggle with keeping their children away from the I-pad.

Catherine Steiner-Adair, Research Associate at Harvard Medical School and author of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, says the key is not to turn to tech as the default distraction: “Children learn from play, especially preschoolers and primary-aged children. Be sure yours spend more time playing and learning from hands-on engagement in the real world than they do on screens.”

Parents have been criticized for using apps on the I-pad as a pacifier to distract energetic children.

Subsequently, we will only focus on the best educational games that do not involve the computer screen.

Best Building Games For Young Children

For younger children, the best educational games tend to be centered around building. The best engineering toys are made in Germany.  There is nothing wrong with Lego. However, the toys tend to be licensed (eg – Star Wars) and this may open up a can of worms. Kids receive one Bat Man Lego and then want the entire set.

If you stick with unbranded building toys you will get all the building fun without the Hollywood push.

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Best Science Toys

For older children, in the 8+ bracket you can find high quality science kits for about $40.

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Nowadays, a lot of parents are buying “how to code toys.” However, the best educational games in the hard sciences such as Physics and Chemistry are not nearly as popular.

Arousing interest in STEM could pay long term dividends as the labor shortages are acute in the biotech sector.

Canada needs to ensure that its workforce is prepared for career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to grow its economy and maintain its overall quality of life. Currently, the scarcity of qualified STEM employees is negatively affecting the operations of 40 percent of companies within the biotech sector, while more than 33 percent of firms report skill shortages among staff.

Best Math Board Games

The board games from Europe are vastly different than you what you generally found at Toys R Us (pre-bankruptcy). While U.S. games tend be focused on the party segment and often involve gimmicks, the European games are less thematic and quite “brainy.” Image result for ellen degeneres hedbanz

For kids over the age of 10, you can try a game like Splendor or Jaipur.  These are not math games per se. However, you have to do a lot of quick calculations to formulate your strategy. The math is not heavy (basic addition).  By disguising math practice in play time you can slide in some education on the sly.

Splendor and Jaipur are similar games. You collect a resource and trade it in for another resource.  For example, a ruby card might require that you trade in 4 blue cards and one black card.  The child quickly calculates which trade would provide the most value.

I generally do not recommend the pure play math games like Set. I find that you really need to masquerade your math practice and games like Qwirkle or Set can feel too “mathy” for a lot of children who have no interest in these types of games.

In the comments, let me know what you think are the best educational games and toys for children.