I was playing backgammon (or tavloo, as the Armenians call it) with my three-year-old last night. This game is excellent practice for math skills like counting pips, number sense (reading a group of dots on a die without counting them), and complex problem-solving (considering a wide array of possible moves and determining the most favorable). However, like any game, it also teaches important lessons in sportsmanship, fairness, turn-taking, and so on.
At one point, my son had me in a tough spot. I had one man off and couldn’t roll the right combination to bring him in. When I tried to explain to my son that I couldn’t move and it was his turn, he got very apprehensive and started insisting that it was my turn. “We take turns!” he told me. He even said he didn’t want me to be sad.
It’s nice to know that all that time we spend trying to get him to build empathy and a sense of fairness isn’t going to waste.
Now if we can just get him to stop punching his baby brother…
As an aside, every home should have a backgammon set. If you’re Armenian, you probably already have some fancy inlaid heirloom from the old country, but otherwise, you can pick one up readily on Amazon. This is a great quality set for just $35. Click photo for link.