As a parent, I just didn’t understand why that card game had to be called War (you know the one: split the deck in half, then flip cards off the top. Player with the high card takes both cards. If it’s a tie, players each lay 3 cards face down, then the 4th determines who wins all those cards.) I didn’t go so far as to figure out a better name for it, because, really, who likes playing it?? It’s like Candy Land, right? All luck, no brain.

Well, it turns out that kids like it. 4-year-olds in particular. But 7-year-olds dig it, too. And maybe I’m just searching for something redeeming about it, but…

I think there is something redeeming about it. It just requires a little willingness to shift your perspective. First, get a cup of coffee. Or tea. Or wine. Then sit comfortably with the kid. Then play the game. Watch your kid like you might watch TV. Be engrossed and entertained. If you are playing with a pre-schooler or early elementary child, they are going to get great practice with the concept of greater than/less than. If you are playing with an older child, they are getting great time with YOU (and maybe some needed practice.) Both kids will be learning that playing games is fun, which will serve you well when they are ready to play strategic games. And won’t it be interesting to note the day that the kid says, “Nah, I don’t want to play that game. Let’s play (insert name of strategic game.)”

By the way, I’m fine with the name now. I see the draw for little boys…

(Mathematically…in addition to greater than/less than practice, playing cards will give kids practice with connecting numerical symbols and amounts. In fact, a deck of cards is one of the most accessible and readily available math tools to use with your child. When they are young, they can learn to count the suit symbols. As they mature, they will know what the numerical symbol means, but they will continue to strengthen their connection to the visual amount. And you can do SO much with a deck of cards. Sort by number. Sort by suit. Tons of different games to play. Train your kid to sit quietly and play solitaire while you make dinner. Oh! If I ever manage to succeed at that I will let you know.)