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If you would like your child to start learning card games, either for entertainment, the social opportunities that cards offer, or for educational purposes, here are some tips to help get started. Children can start learning card games with either a regular deck of cards or with any of the various specialized card decks made specially for children. If the goal is to help the child be ready to play with older siblings, using the set that they use might make sense. If education is the primary goal, they you may wish to choose a set that covers the subject area that you’re interested in stressing.
Several strategies work well in making a child’s introduction to learning card games go easily and smoothly. Depending on the particular game(s) you are introducing, some of these techniques may be helpful:
Simplify arrays. A full pack of 52 cards may be used in concentration, but when a child is learning card games, you may want to pull out just the face cards and make a 4 x 3 array. Even a 2 x 2 array with, say, 2 red Queens and 2 black Kings could be used to give the child an initial experience that is manageable.
Open hands. By playing simple games either with your cards exposed and your child’s cards hidden or with both hands open, you can talk through the choices, strategies, and decisions involved in the game so that your child can see under the hood, so to speak. This will make some of the hidden parts of learning card games more obvious.
Limited deck and/or hands. Small children have small hands and may have trouble holding all the cards for games like Old Maid, even when they have learned enough to play. By reducing the number of cards in the deck and/or in the child’s hand, the mechanics of learning card games become simpler.
Games that fit. Children follow developmental patterns, and different children have different strengths. Choosing appropriate games will help ensure a positive experience for your child. Look for descriptions that tell what skills or abilities are involved in the game and decide whether it’s a good match for your child.