When you think of playing darts, probably the first image that comes to mind is of a dimly lit, smoky pub. There’s a soccer (or football, if you’re in Europe) game on the television over the bar, murmurs of conversation, the clink of glasses, and a boisterous group of players hanging around the dart board, maybe having a tournament, most likely sampling the pub’s brew.
Maybe you’ve thought about introducing your kids to your favorite game, but thought you’d have to wait until they were old enough to enter a pub. Not true. There are plenty of options available to get your kids interested in darts in the comfort and safety of your own home.
VELCRO DART BOARDS
When introducing your kids to darts, start slowly with the safest option available—Velcro darts. These games consist of a dart board made of flexible material and covered in looped material. The “darts” are actually small, plastic balls that have strips of hooked material attached to them. When the darts are thrown at the board, they stick. Velcro dart games are very inexpensive, usually starting around ten dollars, so the fun your kids will have is well worth the small investment. This is a game that can even be played by toddlers. Keeping score isn’t necessary. Your kids will just enjoy the colorful dart board and darts, throwing, and then peeling the darts off the board to start all over again. Be sure to cheer them on and keep them engaged.
MAGNETIC DART BOARDS
If your kids are a little older, Velcro darts may be too simple a game for them. This is where a magnetic dart game comes in. Magnetic darts consist of a metal dart board and darts that have small magnets attached to their ends. The magnet ends of the darts are also weighted to help them fly to the board when thrown. Upon reaching the board, the magnets are attracted to the metal dart board and will attach to it. Magnetic dart sets aren’t very expensive, running anywhere from 15 to 25 dollars, and replacement magnetic darts are readily available when your kids have worn out the first set. Again, keeping score isn’t absolutely necessary—the goal is to have fun. But as your child gets a bit older, keeping score can give them goals to reach and make the game even more interesting for them.
The most common dart boards made for kids use plastic darts. Even though plastic darts are not as hard as standard steel-tip darts, they can still pose a danger to small children. Toddlers should never be allowed to play with darts, plastic or otherwise. The danger of poking themselves in the eye is too great. Even older children should be supervised by an adult at all times when playing with plastic darts. Besides, darts is a social game. Use a plastic darts set to teach your child about your favorite pastime. It’s a great opportunity to bond with your child and share a common interest.
BENEFITS OF PLAYING DARTS
Other than introducing your kids to a great tradition, making for hours of fun, there are other benefits to teaching your kids to play darts.
Games that require throwing and aiming at targets improve hand-eye coordination. At first, when your kids are younger, just hitting the dart board will be enough. As they get older and their coordination improves, make hitting certain spots on the dart board the goal of the game. Help them work their way up to actually playing a dart game and going for a high score. The gradual progression will help them build their skills, increasing their confidence, all while having fun and spending quality time with you.
Playing darts also requires math skills. If your kids are young, start by having them count out loud when they throw their darts. Older kids can add their scores as they go, not even realizing they’re learning because they’re having fun at the same time. When your kids graduate to plastic darts, and later, regular darts, the math gets more complicated. For example, in some games, players start with 501 points and count down. To finish the game, they must hit a double that makes their score zero. Players need to be able to work out what numeric combinations they need to hit with their darts to accomplish this. In fact, darts requires players to perform not just simple arithmetic, but algebra, geometry, and even physics. As your child learns darts and gradually works his way up to this type of game, he’ll have been doing math so long that these calculations will come easily.
Ensuring your kids’ safety is of the utmost importance when teaching them to play darts. To that end, some things bear repeating:
- Never let small children play with real darts.
- Never allow toddlers to play with plastic darts.
- Keep all parts of your child’s dart set together and accounted for. Some pieces can be small and easily swallowed by children. Make it a game. When you take the set out, have your child count out loud while you remove items from the box. Have them do it again while putting everything away. They’re participating, practicing their counting, and helping to keep the game safe for everyone.
- Always supervise your children when they play darts.
- Keep the dart set out of your child’s reach when not in use.
- Teach your children not to throw darts at people, animals, or anything not meant to be hit by darts.
- Teach your kids not to walk in front of the dart board while others are playing, and to always stand behind the person throwing.