Introduce children to board games

Sitting with the family around a board game is one of the great pleasures of the holiday season. But how do you get 2 or 3 year olds to participate while respecting their rhythm and their sometimes limited concentration? Game hints, tips and tricks.

Posted 28 Dec 2021

Stefania Morin

Stefania Morin
The print

Play with the box

All the specialists interviewed agree: often a toy box and the equipment it contains is enough to arouse children’s curiosity about board games. “Removing and storing game pieces can mobilize a 2-year-old and become fun,” says Catherine Dupuis, co-president of Amélio, a Quebec-based educational game publisher. “When you come up with a new toy, you have to let the child unpack it, let him play with the equipment to her liking. ”

“Kids will make things up with the material and it’s great; they must be able to create in total freedom, without external judgments ”, also believes Caroline Makosza, general manager of Ludopolis, a non-profit organization that organizes game events in particular in libraries, schools and early childhood centers.

Don’t force anything

Simon Tobin is a Doctor of Psychology, father of four and founder of the Placote Games. For him, one of the essential rules for cultivating a love of games in young children is to respect their rhythm. “A child shouldn’t be forced to play. If play becomes a chore or chore, the child will no longer want to play or even try other games. ”

“At 2 or 3, the important thing is to associate play with pleasure,” adds Joël Gagnon, Randolph’s editorial director and father of two. “The outcome of the game doesn’t matter to kids of this age. The important thing is to make them want to come back the next day. ”


Caroline Makosza specializes in board games, especially for children. You have also founded several playrooms in France.

You don’t force a child to finish a game, nor an adult, for that matter! Otherwise, the child will start cheating and do whatever it takes to spoil the game for others.

Caroline Makosza, general manager of Ludopolis

He adds: “You also don’t force a child to play by the rules until he asks. At 2 or 3 you don’t necessarily have the maturity to follow the rules to the letter. He may need to create his own rules and it is very important that he can do this before an external rule is imposed on him. We must go carefully, otherwise the child will play to please us: it will be boring for him and his creativity will be hindered. Worse still, if we insist on bringing him back to rule too soon, he will tend to seek external validation to know if what he is doing is correct. It is possible that, by imitation, he simply plays to play. And this is very good! ”

Go gradually

When the child feels ready to play, the worst mistake would be to knock him out with a bunch of rules, says Joël Gagnon. “You can start a game without rules and only manipulations: roll the dice, move a pawn. So, let’s establish a simple rule, then another. Let’s all learn the game together, one rule at a time. ”

“The important thing is to respect the rhythm of the child,” says Catherine Dupuis. The child will naturally want to move on when he has learned a rule. When he feels he is progressing, the child gains self-esteem and confidence. ”

However, she insists that, according to her, children must respect the rules of the game “and then learn better to respect the rules of society”.


Simon Tobin, co-founder of the Placote games

Following the rules and taking turns are not innate abilities. However, the board game is a perfect way to acquire them without the child noticing.

Simon Tobin, co-founder of the Placote games

“Board games allow children to develop a range of skills that could be useful to them in school. In particular, he exercises concentration and memory, as well as allowing him to manage his emotions by learning to win and lose. There is nothing more educational than playing with a child! adds Catherine Dupuis.

As for the duration of the games, Mmyself Dupuis estimates that no more than 10 minutes should be taken to respect the concentration ability of 2 or 3-year-olds.


Caroline Makosza is formal: “For a game to be effective, adults must have fun too. If he is bored, the child will feel it. But how do you get there? By changing the rules, he casts Joël Gagnon. “When I find a game boring, I hide it from my children or change the rules to make it more fun!” For example, I find endless memory games. So I decided to leave one tile visible every turn. It is much faster! ”

Another trap of board games with children: they can’t stay in their place. Simon Tobin suggests adding the necessary instructions to allow children to move around while playing. “If we have a low table, we can also allow them to play standing up. ”

Incorporate play into your routine

According to Joël Gagnon, the key to success for children in enjoying the many benefits of board games is to integrate them into the family routine. As many parents already do with reading. “Play is a noble activity as much as reading. There is a parallel between game and book. As with books, I suggest that parents change games often to stimulate the child. They can borrow some from the library, trade some with other parents, buy some. It does not matter. What matters is to vary the pleasures! ”

Five games for 2 and 3 year olds


Premier verger board game

First orchard

Here, players team up to collect fruit from the trees before the crow eats it. To do this, they have to roll a dice and manipulate pieces of wood (we salute the publisher of Haba for the high quality of the material). A game that develops in particular the recognition of colors and shapes.

For 1 to 4 players aged 2 and up. Duration: 10 minutes. Price: $ 30.


The Color Monster is a game that helps children recognize and name their emotions.

The monster of color

To help the monster get over the whirlwind of his emotions (and put each one in the right bottle), kids need to name the things that make them sad, happy, calm, angry, or scared. A collaborative game from the Purple Brain publisher that promotes discussion.

For 2 to 5 players aged 3 and up. Duration: 20 minutes. Price: $ 50.


The Little board game collection has several titles, including Little Cooperation.

Small cooperation

In Little Cooperation, from the Djeco publisher, players must team up to help the little animals get back to their igloo. A perfect game to learn how to handle dice, move (cute!) Figurines and play as a team. Other games from the Little collection help to improve observation skills, dexterity …

For 2 to 4 players aged 2.5 and up. Duration: 10 minutes. Price: $ 30.


The game 50+ ways to play with mammals

Over 50 ways to play

The principle of this collection imagined by the publisher Amélio: each box offers 50 different games articulated by a simple deck of cards (and sometimes tokens). The game can be as simple as battle or pond and get more complex with variations. Various themes are proposed, from human anatomy to means of transport.

From a player aged 3 and over. Duration: 15 minutes. Price: $ 30.


The Monster School board game was designed and manufactured in Quebec.

school of monsters

To graduate, monsters must adopt the correct behaviors. It is up to the children to decide whether each situation described on the cards corresponds to a good deed or not. A game to develop social skills (and to discuss them with the family), imagined by the publisher of Quebec Placote.

For 2 to 4 players aged 3 and up. Duration: 15 to 30 minutes. Price: $ 40.

Leave a Comment