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If your child is at all interested in Pokemon cards, football cards, or others, encourage it. What kids learn from trading cards will surprise you.
Can’t decide whether you want your child to get into trading cards? Here are some points to help you make your decision.
Since the time my sons were 4 and 5 years old, they’ve collected Pokemon cards. Their cousins gave them some. My boys were hooked. Over the years, their interests have expanded to football cards, Yu-Gi-Oh cards, baseball cards, college sports cards, and some basketball cards.
I’ve always considered it a good thing.
Now they are 8 and 10 years old. A few weeks ago, I was happy to see them taking out their football card binders. It seems football cards are cycling around once again as some of their friends are talking about them at school.
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What kids learn from trading cards and card collecting
I became interested when a few moms came up to me, frustrated by it. Their kids had been in and out of Pokemon. Their sons didn’t have any football cards and wanted some. These moms were upset with their sons’ latest interest/obsession with collecting football cards.
I told them I love trading cards. I told them how my boys learn so many lessons and keep themselves occupied in somewhat meaningful ways. Here’s what’s to love about kids playing with trading cards.
1. It gives them something to do as they get older.
As children grow up, they age out of their toys. Sure, they probably still have lots of toys, games and interests, but their free time has decreased because they are busy with school and activities. During school weeknights, they don’t have time to pull out their Lego boxes so they go to what’s easy to access.
Playing with, discussing, and organizing their card collections is something my kids initiate and choose to do on their own. There isn’t a lot of setup time. They can play for two minutes or two hours.
2. It helps keep them off electronics.
As kids get older, they tend to gravitate to iPads and video games more. Trading cards help keep kids off of electronics and keep them interested in something tangible. They have a “real life thing” to interact with, instead of screens.
While my sons love talking to each other and their friends about their football cards and other cards, I’ve seen each of my sons alone focused on organizing their card collections and enjoying some “down time” in a way they do while reading.
3. It enables kids not “into sports” to talk about sports.
My boys love anything football related. However, sometimes kids who aren’t into sports notice their social circles shrinking as they have less in common with kids who love sports, especially as they age.
Football cards, hockey cards, baseball cards, etc. bridge the gap between the kids who might not typically be as good of friends and gives them something to talk about. It enables those non-sports’ kids a way to be a part of more things. They can talk about the players, teams, and stats and make trades.
4. It gives kids something in common with each other.
This goes along with the “sports kids” and the “non-sports kids” but it’s more than that. Liking the same types of trading cards gives kids something in common with each other. An interest in Pokemon cards (or any type of cards) gets them mixing with kids they may not have gotten to know before.
My kids were in preschool and kindergarten talking to second and third graders about Pokemon cards. It happened again when we moved and they making trades with kids a bit older. My kids were able to hold their own, as they were very knowledgeable about Pokemon. They ended up as peers in a way, having Pokemon in common. At their current school, they’ve been meeting and mixing with kids — in their grades and not in their grades — they’ve never mentioned before.
Trading cards enables kids to have something more in common than being in the same grade, on the same bus, or on the same block. It connects them.
5. Kids learn to be responsible for their things.
Children may not care much about their sweatshirt or their lunchbox but they will sure work to be responsible with their cards.
If my kids bring their card boxes or their binders to play with after school or to a friend’s house, they have to be responsible for them. They are learning that wherever they bring them, they do so at their own risk.
It’s great seeing how they care for their card collections, putting some into binder sleeves for protection and into boxes in a way that they will know which cards are where.
Some kids have lost cards at school and on the bus. Obviously, we don’t want kids to lose their things but these are valuable lessons.
6. Kids learn about negotiating and being fair.
Life is all about compromise and negotiation. What game should we play? Who goes first? Trading cards is a great place for kids to learn about making deals and trades and negotiating.
There generally aren’t “take backs” so children have to be confident in their decisions. They also learn fast what makes a trade fair and what doesn’t. Negotiating is a life skill, and trading cards is one of their first opportunities to learn about it. My boys have made trades they were upset about later. Those have been great opportunities to talk about making fair trades for everyone involved and being confident in their decisions.
7. Kids learn about spending their own money.
Garage sales and thrift store shopping are wonderful: Kids can bring their money and actually buy something. Kids need to learn how to spend money. They aren’t learning if parents are always saying no to toys because we believe our kids won’t play with the toy more than one day.
When my kids get a gift card or money for their birthdays, they want to buy something, and I want them to learn to be able to make their own decisions and also to get a good value.
I don’t want them spending all their money on video games so that they can be whisked away into Videogameland. At least when they choose to buy some football cards, Yu-Gi-Oh cards, or Pokemon cards, I know they will play with them and trade them. There isn’t deceiving advertising or a big box with a small, useless, overpriced toy inside. They know what they are buying.
8. Kids learn to organize and care for their things.
At first, my boys put their cards in a shoebox. Over time as their collections grew, they put them into binders with trading card sleeves (see some here). They’ve learned to organize them all sorts of ways.
With their Pokemon cards they organize them by type and have a special page/sleeve for their (more valuable) EX cards. For their football cards, they organize them by team. For their Yu-Gi-Oh cards, they arrange them by their deck. It’s great they are taking pride in their collections and caring for them.
The plastic storage boxes are great too. The larger ones shown hold 1,100 cards. They are portable and with five dividers, work well for multiple collections of cards. Click here to find these trading card storage boxes. (These also make great gifts for kids.)
9. Kids use their imagination and learn new games.
My kids set out their Pokemon cards or their Yu-Gi-Oh cards and play. Who knows what they are doing or how they learned to play but it’s great watching them bond over their cards. Maybe they made up their games. Even better: They are using their imagination. Who knows what beats what and why but they love it.
10. Kids learn about having a collection and a hobby.
Some kids collect erasers or coins, some collect Hot Wheels, and some enjoy rocks and gems. It’s great to have a hobby. I love seeing my boys arrange their cards. I love how they want to organize them and how they care for them — on their own without me telling them to – and how they put their cards back to their spots after playing a game with them or pulling them out for trading.
11. Helps reinforce math concepts.
If your kids are into Pokemon cards, they will learn the higher the number on the card, the better the card. When they play the Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh card games, they add and subtract. With sports cards, like baseball cards, kids can learn about the statistics on the back, like RBIs, batting averages, and more.
12. Gives kids a chance to share and shine.
I’ve seen children with Pokemon and football cards give their friends some cards for “free” in order to include that child. I’ve seen it many times, and it’s great. My kids have given away cards and have received “a free card” at times too, even though they’ve always had plenty. As long as the “giver” is okay with it and doesn’t have remorse afterwards, it’s positive. What a great lesson for the giver to share and include others and for the receiver to be able to be a part of card collecting.
13. Kids can be “into” something even if their friends aren’t.
Sure it’s more fun for my kids when their peers are excited about football cards, but it’s great that they play with them even when it isn’t the big talk on the bus and at school. I want my kids to grow up being interested in what they are interested in, and not following the masses. Where we live now, I’m not sure if any of their friends like Yu-Gi-Oh cards, but my kids love them, play games with them, and even bought some the last time they went to Target.
What else is great about trading cards
14. There are low barriers to entry.
It’s terrible when kids are left out of things due to money. Think how difficult it is to return to school after winter break and so many are bragging about their cool new toys. There are always the kids sitting there saying nothing because they didn’t get anything big enough, expensive enough, or cool enough to talk about.
What’s great about trading cards is that you can buy a decent pack for around four dollars. Almost all kids can be a part of it.
Everyone can’t have the latest everything. But with trading cards, most children, if they are really interested in Pokemon cards or football cards or whatever, can get some. Perhaps they can ask for them as a gift. Maybe they have money they’ve been saving. Maybe they can do some chores and earn some to buy some at Amazon, Target or Walmart. They have some sports cards and other trading cards at the Dollar Store as well. Know that while they are “only” a dollar, they are often priced higher per card than those at other stores. Maybe the parent will give in and get them a few packs. However it happens, these cards are accessible to most.
Also, with such a low “investment,” you won’t be upset when your child isn’t as interested in them anymore. (But wait six months; they’ll be interested again. This is similar to my kids’ latest obsession with the fidget cube.)
15. Cards take up little space and store easily.
Cards are small and hardly take up any space, especially in the beginning before kids have amassed hundreds of cards. And even hundreds of cards can easily fit in a binder or two or three. Even with multiple collections, they are manageable. Binders and boxes line up nicely on a bookshelf or in the closet or on the floor of your child’s room. Compare this to some toys your child owns, especially the ones that don’t fit back in the box they came in so they are near impossible to stack or store decently.
16. They’re a great gift idea and suggestion.
Like most of their friends, my kids are blessed with more than they can enjoy and appreciate. When it comes time for them to have a birthday party and someone asks what they are into or what they would like as a gift, I often suggest whatever kind of trading cards they happen to be into at the moment.
Because there are various price points, usually from four dollars to ten dollars, to twenty or more, trading cards are a great suggestion because gift givers can give something within their budget. (It’s awkward asking for something very specific or a Lego set which can be expensive.) It’s also great because you don’t have to worry about duplicates as most kids would love to get several packs of trading cards from different people.
Also, usually kids like to open and keep everything – even gifts and toys that you know they will open and never touch again — so cards are something they will want, hopefully appreciate, and will use. And again, they don’t take up a lot of space, which is always a bonus. They make great stocking stuffers too.
17. They’re timeless.
Think about it. There aren’t too many things now that are timeless. Sure there are Tinkertoys and even Lego, especially when they’re sold just as bricks and not as a set. But really, there are few things that stand the test of time. Things just seem more disposable and to be getting bigger and supposedly better. We can’t just drive remote control cars anymore, our kids are flying drones. We don’t make doll furniture out of tissue boxes and perfume boxes. Our kids ask for American Girl Doll furniture.
Baseball cards and football cards have been around for several generations, and they will continue to be around for many more. My daughter had Pokemon cards from 1995 and passed them on to our friends’ kids when she was done with them. Who knew they would have still been popular when her brothers grew older?
Sometimes kids at school are into football cards and Pokemon cards and sometimes they aren’t. One thing for sure, they will be sure to cycle around again.
18. They are easy to transport.
Kids can tote their binders and shoeboxes, their small Ziploc bag, or keep them loose in a back pocket. My kids can easily bring their binders with them for something to do in the car or while at their brother’s game. They were excited when I let them each pack one of their Pokemon binders in a suitcase when we flew to visit their cousins years ago.
My kids played with trading cards on all of our road trips, including going to Milwaukee, Iowa, Wyoming, Utah, and Arizona. They bought some when we saw the World’s Largest Ball of Stamps in Nebraska. Afterwards, they played with them in the car for hours.
What kids learn from trading cards
Can you tell I love my kids playing with trading cards? There are so many values kids learn from trading cards. There are just SO MANY positive things.
Many advantages of trading cards for kids
My kids loved riding the bus and talking about cards and making trades with their friends. Now that we’ve moved and they don’t ride the bus, it’s been fun that they’ve been able to stay after school trading cards with other kids. I listen at a distance and love hearing them all talk about cards they want to get and trades they are hoping to make. At home, I’m again hearing some new names my sons have never mentioned before.
Whether your kids are interested in Pokemon trading cards, football cards, Magic: The Gathering, or any other cards, it can be beneficial. There are so many values your child can learn from the experience of acquiring, collecting, organizing, and trading their cards. Even if it seems to be a passing phase, just wait until next year when everyone begins trading again.