I have always been a lover of board games. As a kid, we often had marathons of Clue, Sorry, Monopoly, chess, checkers, and countless other games going on in our basement - often for days or weeks on end. Our game area (a corner of an unfinished basement) was a kids’ world - a place where we learned to play fearlessly, to win humbly, and to lose graciously. It was a place where we measured our wits against our sibs and neighbors and friends - always, it seemed, with a critical assessment of our own skill, and an awareness that our skill was often tempered or assisted by pure luck. As a result, we learned a lot about our skill and talent sets.
Games taught us to take risks; they taught us to be daring and do unreasonable, unpredictable stuff because “it’s only a game.” In this way, games taught us to sacrifice our need for perfection, and to explore the “what ifs” of life. We learned that failure is part of life, and that life goes on (even if we think it won’t).
Games taught us persistence; if the game was long and borrrrring, or if we weren’t winning, or if someone was being a pain, we learned to persevere, or to remedy the situation creatively (and usually compassionately…). Adults were not part of the scene, so we kids learned to compromise, collaborate, and correct behaviors in ourselves and others without adult interference.
Games also introduced us to the concept of “flow,” a term coined by psychologist Dr. Mihaly Czikszentmihaly, Flow is a state of being in which one becomes so joyously absorbed in an activity that one loses all sense of time. Rainy days spent in the game area were often days spent in blissful flow, so much that we sometimes forgot to eat lunch, or were amazed that the day had flown by. We learned that flow felt great, and learned to watch for other serendipitous incidents of flow in our unfolding lives. For some of us, flow bubbled up in the creative arts; for others, flow surfaced in sports, for others, flow accompanied long periods of writing, or other joyous activities. Flow is an amazing gift in life, and games can be a wonderful introduction to its beauty.
Surreptitiously, I think, games taught us the thrill of challenge, and the boredom of “too easy.” To avoid boredom, we often made up our own rules, upped the ante, added our own creative touches, and imposed a myriad of homegrown, and sometimes unfathomable, rules. These practices enhanced our critical and creative thinking, and taught us what to do with boredom.
Finally, games taught us decision-making and problem solving skills. Without being formally taught, we were hypothesizing, investigating, observing, and drawing conclusions. We learned how to “go back to the drawing board,” and to rectify mistakes that we’d made to improve our performance. And the best part of all was that it didn’t cost us anything but, perhaps, our pride.
So many of the skills that are taught by playing board games are skills that all kids need, and are skills that gifted kids especially need to counter-balance some of the social and emotional needs that they encounter.
With all of these benefits of gaming in mind, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a great list of board games for kids and their families. Here it is: 100 Games for Gifted Kids by Renee at greatpeace.com. I have played many of the games on this list, and perhaps you have too. I love the way this list is organized; perhaps it will help you find the best games for your child and your family.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts. Together we grow.
Jacquelyn Drummer, Past President
WI Association for Talented and Gifted
It is my great privilege to work with parent groups and with families as they navigate the joys and challenges of raising gifted children. Without fail, at workshops and in coaching sessions, we often pass the kleenex because the task of parenting gifted kids, while full of joy and pride, can also be difficult and fraught with emotion. Many of the emotions, and the questions that go with them seem to be universal, and may present themselves at various points during the journey of parenting. One of the most important things we do is to reassure parents that they are not alone, and that other parents share these same emotions and questions.
While pondering this topic, I came across a blog that included a checklist of emotions, Gifted Challenges: Welcome to Gifted Parenting: A Checklist of Emotions by Dr. Gail Post, Clinical Psychologist, that helped me identify and group by “ages and stages” some of the most pressing issues and questions that parents of gifted children often share in our work together. I have chosen to “dig deeper” into each area, and to share the questions that most often come up when working with parents of gifted kids.
The questions and emotions are endless, and the angst and joy are real. Many families have found that reading widely helps answer their questions. One of my favorite sites for parents is The Parenting Link at hoagiesgifted.org. Additionally, many parents have found comfort in the book, A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children, which is used in SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) discussion groups. SENG discussion groups, and Parent to Parent: Sharing Your Wisdom workshops, such as those offered at the WATG Fall Conference October 3-4 in Wisconsin Dells, also provide parents with a community of ideas, resources, and reassurance.
Parenting is always full of joys and challenges. If you are reading this article, I want to assure you that you are doing a good job. Let’s encourage each other, talk to each other, and share what is working.
As always, I welcome your thoughts. Together we grow.
Jacquelyn Drummer, Past President, WATG
Gifted in Perspective
A column designed to link the gifted perspective to other perspectives, and to make you think