Thursday, June 28, 2012

Is Gaming All Bad 2


Inspired by how playing boardgames can truly let one learn through play, Pamela Tan started an online store at to retail and distribute the games which she mostly imports from US and Europe.

In the first instalment, I reached out to Pamela to discuss if Gaming is all bad. Here’s part 2 of our chat:

Me: What are the other “lessons of life” can one take away from Board Games?

Pam: Other than those listed earlier, my children have benefitted from the below:
Taking instructions. Board games are excellent for training children to listen to instructions and carrying out the instructions correctly. I started playing Go Away Monster (a board game meant for ages 3 and up) with Isaac since he was 17 months old. By 18 months, he could play the game with its full rules – he could understand the instructions I gave him and he executed them perfectly.

• Taking turns. With the same game, Go Away Monster, Isaac learnt how to take turns, and wait for his turn, at 18 months. Our paediatrician says this is unheard of in an 18 month old. Apparently it is normal for a child in their earlier years to always think and want it to be their turn ALWAYS. This is normal and common. But it just shows, that with some conditioning, it is possible to teach children from a young age to learn how to take turns.

• Cultivating of patience. Now that I have two younger children, we have had to bring back the games that Isaac played with when he was 2 years old to play them with his younger brother Asher, and sister Shawna. Now at 5 years old, Isaac would prefer to play more challenging games, but gets frustrated when he has to play simple games (such as Go Away Monster which he mastered earlier on) and he does not like it when the twins mess up his game or if they do not know how to play his game. This is where we teach him to be patient with the twins. We remind him that he was once a 2 year-old who played Go Away Monster seven times a day, and that he too, had to be taught how to play the game by its rules.

Developing leadership. Now that my message to Isaac to be patient with his siblings has sunk in, he has started to teach them how to play the games, by himself. He will aid me in trying to teach and guide the twins during game play.

Encouraging perseverance. “Try, and try again.” is our mantra that I teach Isaac when he does not win a game.

• Developing a strategy. Even in games for young kids, you can employ different strategies to win. After the child learns how to play the game, you can teach him how to strategise. Get him to consider different methods to win. Teach him to learn how to think ahead and anticipate their opponents’ moves. Encourage him to experiment with different tactics and strategies and techniques, to see what works and what does not. Let him practice and train him to think of all possible options and explore where those options lead him.

Read body language. Improve Negotiation skills. Foster co-operation. There are all sorts of games out there. Some games which require reading of body language of that of your opponents, some require you to negotiate with your opponents while for others, you will need to co-operate with your fellow game players to work together to win the game together. As Isaac grows older, we look forward to being able to introduce him to more complex games.

Laid out above is all the stuff you can teach your child while playing board games with him/her, and I did not even list the ‘obvious’ stuff that you can learn from board games that some parents only look for, like Maths, and Language (vocabulary, spelling etc), and themes touching on Science, History, Geography… To me, this is the surface learning which is used to reinforce what the kids learn in school. However, I feel that the true value of board games is in the abstract learning that is gleaned from parents playing with their children.

Me: Lastly, what games would you recommend for the preschoolers?

Pam: There are certainly loads to choose from and I will list the ones which are popular with our customers as well as my children.

Below 3 years old• Go Away, Monster!
• Froggy Boogie
• Kleiner Teddy (Little Teddy)

3 to below 5
• Duck Duck Bruce
• Viva Topo
• Zoowaboo

 5 and above
• Sleeping Queens
• Super Circles
• Quoridor Kid
• Pirate versus Pirate

Many of the games listed above are also good with older kids, right up to teens and even adults. (For e.g. games such as Quoridor Kid and Pirate versus Pirate).

Pamela Tan is a board games enthusiast with a personal collection of more than 300 board games. She is a mother of three young children, the oldest turning 5 years old this year. Initially starting out with the intention to train her children to play strategy boardgames with her in future, she found that boardgames are an excellent educational tool when she started playing them with her son and went on to start up her own online games store:!

Pamela blogs about her parenting thoughts and journey regularly at /From now till 31 July, readers who quote "SMB-BEANIENUS" will receive a 10% off your purchases (not applicable on delivery and shipping)


  1. Very good points raised. I believe gaming can be beneficial too, even when playing with the tech gadgets like iPad.. but it all has to be done in moderation and with the right guidance :)

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

  2. Hi Ai,

    Yes, Pamela did a really great article here. It did not occur to me that so much can be learnt through board games. :) And yes, everything in moderation. :D

  3. hi Ai, thanks for your comments. I totally agree, even with tech gadgets also you learn stuff. Just that it's not got so much of a "personal" "face-to-face" touch. I love the iPad myself! hehehehe... yes, everything in moderation, I have to remind myself that, too!


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