At the risk of sounding like an old fogey (which we are), we'd offer a suggestion for today's parents:
Put away every electronic game you bought for junior or your junior miss and play the old traditional games with your children this Christmas season.
If you want to teach your children how to count, there is no better game than cribbage. Yahtzee is another fun pursuit that will sharpen math skills. Balderdash is a great way to improve the family's vocabulary.
If you want to light up the brains of the whole family, shut off the TV and play bridge. Adults and children alike will learn how much fun it is to spend time together, learn how to reason, and take joy in the lessons of every hand.
We have secretly thought that the reason school test scores have declined for three straight decades is because parents don't play games with their children anymore. Not only are they educational, they are fun! Games should challenge children - and adults.
We grew up in an age - and a geographical area - where television was not available. Yes, we listened to radio, but almost every night our family played a game - whether it was bridge, cribbage, Monopoly or, yes, even poker, the family played games together. We would go to sleep relishing the thought of the next challenge at that game
But, subconsciously, we were learning how to count, what rough odds were, how to bluff and how to win. And, yes, we were bonding with our family every night. Not only family - we remember when friends would join us for cribbage or double solitaire tournaments. Those tournaments were not for big money - only to see who had the sharpest mind.
In short, it seemed that every thought from our parents' minds was designed to make us children smarter. But they had found games to accomplish that task that they also enjoyed.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.