Making Peace with War
The first card game that virtually every preschooler learns to play is “War.” The deck is divided in half then each player turns over a card and the player with the higher card collects both cards. If the cards match, each player places three cards down and then the player with the higher fourth card collects all. This continues until one player possesses the entire deck.
Recently, I’ve noticed that many mothers and fathers are refusing to teach their children “War” and/or allow them to play it. They do not want their little ones associating making war with having fun. While I do respect that sentiment, I believe it is a bit misguided. By focusing on the name of the game and not its fundamentals, one makes the mistake of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
The fact is that preschoolers derive many benefits from “War.” They get to practice numeracy skills, they exercise patience, they actively focus attention, they improve manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination, and they enjoy simple, healthy competitiveness. There can be no real objection to the game other than its name. And who says you can’t change the name of the game?
So if it does bother you, and I wouldn’t blame you if it does, simply call it something else. Maybe “Match Play,” “Card Bump,” or whatever. If you’re clever enough, perhaps you’ll come up with something that will become irresistibly popular and eventually “War” will become a thing of the past.
Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project. He may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.