Kids love games of all kinds, whether outdoors or in, a sports or video games. These days, children of all ages are captivated more by the digital than the analog, leaving something to be desired for the developing brain.

According to the Association for Psychological Science, children who play with board games have an advantage when it comes to a specific set of cognitive skills like spatial reasoning. Additionally, playing games can play a major role in social development and the soft skills needed to navigate through the future.

Here’s a look at the some of the board game benefits that go beyond fun.

Cultivating Critical Thinking

Most children are naturally curious, and board games can help foster a greater sense of big picture thinking. A game with an age-appropriate level of strategic thinking offers an opportunity for kids to think outside the box.

Developing Motor Skills and More

Motor skill development from games is largely dependent on the age of the child in question. Small children or toddlers can benefit from the hand-eye coordination required to play the game. Rolling the dice and precisely moving a game piece across the board gives the littlest players a chance to develop a sense space, balance and hand-eye coordination.

Games that feature building blocks require a steady hand to keep pieces from toppling over, while games with a drawing component allows kids to think about how to represent something with a limited amount of time and tools available, and others still, have a focus on math and counting, helping with numerical development.

Other tabletop games may ask players to count quickly or solve a puzzle, all things that boost skills in the classroom, as well as out.

Enabling Social Development

From following directions to taking turns and losing with grace, board games can teach children a lot about being good citizens. For example, smaller children playing games will learn firsthand the give and take required to play games or work together with other people.

Board games also encourage children to vocalize needs and wants, whether it’s expressing a desire to win or getting that right card or position on the board, it opens up an opportunity to chat about expectations, as well as fosters a sense of understanding the instructions, or the nuances specific to trying to outsmart a competitor.

Building Confidence

As adults, we underestimate the power in feeling like we accomplished something. For children, successfully playing a game, win or lose, is an accomplishment—they may have learned a new skill, and now have knowledge that can be applied elsewhere.

If parents are playing, too, games are a great opportunity to offer praise for things like their creativity, curiosity, reading skills, etc., all things that boost confidence in a healthy way, which carries through to school and beyond.

Keep the Focus on Fun

Games don’t need to be intentionally educational to provide an enriching experience. A game designed with fun at its core still boosts brain development. Puzzles, word games and basic board games offer a wide range of opportunity for growth. Be it Monopoly or Chess, Chutes and Ladders or Candyland, anything your child chooses has benefits.