Any game can help kids focus and follow directions, which helps with class and homework. These games, recommended by Ann Dolin, author of Homework Made Simple, are also tops for sharpening a slew of skills at the same time. And they’re great for bonding over, too.
A variation of Bingo, Zingo uses shapes, colors, and objects, making it easy to tailor to different levels, including tots who don’t know letters and numbers yet. Either way, listening and memory skills get a workout. Kids also hone their ability to visualize shapes, which is great for reading and math.
Chutes & Ladders
Yes, this classic teaches kids to count to 100. But it also gives them a lesson on adapting to sudden changes as they climb ahead or (sadly) slide back down, which comes in handy in school and life. You can also use it to teach vocabulary and concepts like behind/ahead and up/down.
Here’s another game that can age up or down. You can buy a set with characters for little kids or the original for older ones. Either type sharpens memory as kids remember which color or number to play. It also teaches them to recognize patterns, the foundation for math.
This game uses tiles like Scrabble, but it’s more fast-paced because players make their own crossword puzzles and race to finish first. Like Scrabble, though, it boosts vocabulary, spelling, reading, and writing chops. And words can be as simple or as sophisticated as your child's abilities.
The junior version of the classic scales back on the cash amounts and ups the fun factor by giving kids amusement park rides and ticket booths to buy and sell instead of property and houses. It still teaches kids simple ideas about finance, like how to make change, save, budget, and, yes, splurge.
You can play this game with pencil and graph paper or a 3-D version with ships, men, and pegs. No matter how you play, your child gets practice in problem-solving, deduction, reasoning, planning, and remembering as she tries to hide her ships and sink her opponent’s.