Connect 4 is a game of strategy. Two players are up against each other to see who can be the first to form a line of 4 of one’s own disc colors. The line of 4 discs can be in vertical, horizontal, or diagonal format. This is done by each taking turns to drop colored discs into the seven-columned, six-rowed suspended playing grid. Is it fun? Yes, it is! Is it educational? Absolutely!
To be honest, I never gave the benefits of playing Connect 4 a second thought. I have simply thought of Connect 4 as a fun game for the whole family, and that’s as far as it went. Now, I am quite excited to hear that such fun entertainment comes with so many hidden benefits. I have always enjoyed enticing the kids in the family to a game of Connect 4…now I am dedicated to it – after all (and as you’ll find out), it is benefiting them greatly!
Saying that Connect 4 comes with certain benefits is one thing. Actually, explaining how these benefits are offered from a game is quite another. Connect 4 is the type of game that seems tricky at first, but as you stick with it, the easier it seems to become. I have found that the game benefits children in 14 ways. These benefits are listed and explained below.
14 benefits and advantages of playing Connect 4 (for kids):
1. Provides fun and entertainment.
Connect 4 is not a boring game by any means. Kids introduced to it often become quite fixated with it. When they are up against you or another family member, they are bound to have heaps of fun, focusing on beating you. If you need to while away a few hours or get through a rainy day, Connect 4 is a great entertainment option for the family.
2. Develops fine motor skills.
Kids take time to develop fine motor skills. This is the ability to coordinate small muscles and movements. This can mean using the hands and fingers correctly to correlate to what they see with the eyes. It is about matching up the movement of hands and fingers (as an example) with what they see in front of them.
When kids play Connect 4, they have to pick up pieces and drop them into a slot. For small children, this can be a bit of a challenge, but the more they do it, the better their fine motor skills will become.
3. Improves basic counting and mathematics skills.
In order to play Connect 4, children need to learn basic counting and simple maths. They will need to be able to do basic addition at the very least. If you start playing Connect 4 with a child that cannot even count to 4 as yet, you will find that they very quickly learn to do so.
4. Strengthens upper extremities.
By picking up discs and reaching up to place them into the slots, a child is exercising his/her upper extremities. This creates strength and better control over those muscle groups and the smaller muscles in between.
5. Improves range of motion of upper extremities.
The more children practice reaching and moving their upper extremities, the better their range of motion will be. In terms of physical development or physical therapy, in my opinion, Connect 4 can be a good therapeutic contender.
6. Enhances visual and perceptual-motor skills.
A game of Connect 4 can only be won by someone who is mentally aware of all the pieces that are being played in different directions. This means that a child must take note and be able to perceptually see the pieces and how they are being inserted into the grid. The more a child is exposed to this, the easier it will become for him/her to remember what they have seen without having to constantly refer to the grids.
7. Boosts strategic thinking capabilities.
Winning a game of Connect 4 is about strategy. You have to outwit and outsmart your opponent, which means that you have to be thinking strategically with each and every move. Because of this, Connect 4 is a great way to kick-start a child’s strategic thinking capabilities.
8. Improves cognitive skills.
Cognitive skills are used to understand better, process information, remember things, and apply new information to existing information and work things out. It sounds quite complex, because it is.
Connect 4 requires a child to watch what is happening on the grid, remember the move of the opponent and his/her previous move and be able to quickly think ahead when the opponent makes a move, so that their move can have a positive impact on the outcome of the game (in their favor of course).
9. Develops confidence.
When kids first play a new board game, they are often hesitant or shy. As children learn the rules, realize that they have the ability to win, and start having fun, their confidence levels improve. For children who are shy or lack confidence, introducing them to games that they can learn to win at is a good way to develop a bit more self-confidence.
10. Teaches competitiveness and how to handle associated feelings/emotions.
Competitiveness is healthy if it is handled correctly. Being competitive means that your child will always have the drive to do better and achieve more. Sometimes this drive can become problematic if a child does not know how to handle their competitive feelings.
11. Creates a quick-thinking mindset.
The brain is just like every other muscle in the body. If you leave it unexercised, it will become less effective. The more you work your brain, the stronger and healthier it becomes. Children that play quick-thinking strategy games such as Connect 4 often have a quick-thinking mindset because they become used to thinking in that manner.
12. Enhances problem-solving skills.
Every time an opponent slots his/her discs into the grid, there is a problem to be solved. For this to be possible, each player must be carefully attentive to their opponent’s move and how it impacts their possible next move. This type of thinking leads to more effective problem-solving.
13. Teaches the importance of planning/thinking ahead.
Without thinking one step ahead, a Connect 4 player would miss certain opportunities to win the game. While children might not start out thinking ahead, they quickly learn that it is the way to win the game and so develop forward-thinking and planning skills as a result. These skills can be applied to many other areas of life.
14. Develops the skill of noticing patterns.
You might not think that recognizing patterns is a skill that your child needs, but in fact, it is.
Noticing patterns helps one to make predictions or assumptions based on observations. This particular skill is beneficial when it comes to mathematics, as well as languages. Children who can notice and make sense of patterns are more prepared for learning about complex number concepts in mathematics. Outside of mathematics, a person who is able to recognize patterns is able to review relationships, recognize consistent red flags, and develop generalizations and opinions on matters based on historical evidence.
Connect 4 is a game that is based on patterns. Players have to create 4 in a row either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. Being able to recognize these patterns and predict them will develop a skill for noticing patterns.
All in all
Yup, these are the very benefits that your child can derive from playing Connect 4. According to the YouTube channel “Numberphile”, there are over 4 trillion ways to actually fill a standard Connect 4 board – which in my mind means that Connect 4 is anything but “basic”. Anyone who has watched a game in progress might think that it is strictly a children’s game, but I must admit that I absolutely love playing it too.
It is becoming clearer over the years that games are a great way for children to learn pertinent life skills. With games, such as Connect 4 on the market, you have the opportunity to have fun with your kids while providing them with the opportunity to learn something valuable that will stand them in good stead in the future. If you feel that the above 14 benefits will be good for your children, then what are you waiting for? Introduce them to Connect 4 today.