Overview: Have you heard of gameschooling? Playing games is a great way to learn. Here are just a few of the many benefits of gameschooling.
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Wait, Gameschooling? What is that? Is it even a thing?
You betcha! Briefly, gameschooling is learning through games. Hi, my name is Ashley and I’m a board game fanatic. I review games and write about gameschooling on my blog, Gypsy Gameschooler. I’m super stoked to be writing for Amanda here at Wonders of Curiosity about the benefits of gameschooling.
You see, I knew I wanted to homeschool before I even had kids and had decided to delay formal education. But when my kids came along, they were bright, insatiable learners, and I worried about missing a window of interest. So we started formal education far sooner than we should have. By the time they were 4 and 5, they were both reading (thank goodness that love survived my many mistakes!) and were doing math at Khan Academy. And we were burnt out already.
Related: The 4 Pillars of Natural Learning
Math was taking too long, my kids weren’t wanting to do it anymore, and we started having resistance. Wait! What had happened to my eager learners?!? They’d gone from being ravenous for learning to totally resistant! Had I ruined my kids?
Luckily, I’d been hearing about gameschooling for a while at this point, and I decided to give it a try. I’m so eternally grateful I did. My only regret is it took me so long to start!
We started with math, and almost overnight, my kids were excited to learn again! Their math skills soared. They were doing more math problems, harder problems, and in less time than they had been spending on Khan Academy. Before too long, we were adding more games for other subjects, too.
Gameschooling Keep Everyone Relaxed
Science has known for some time that people can’t learn under stress. When we’re stressed out, anxious, or scared, our systems are flooded with cortisol. Cortisol blocks our ability to learn, which is probably why I could never pass my timed multiplication tests when I was a kid.
An amazing thing happens when we play, though. Stress levels plummet. When we’re laughing, we’re relaxed. And when we relax, we can learn again. So playing games can be the perfect way to help your child learn.
Gameschooling Fosters Connections
Having fun with our kids helps strengthen bonds. When we have fun together, we associate other people with enjoyment, which improves our relationships.
Games Teach Soft Skills
Soft skills are all those transferable skills. You know, the ones everyone wants in the workplace right now. People and social skills, social/emotional skills, cooperation, teamwork, creative thinking, problem solving, strategy, persistence, flexibility, accountability…the list is endless. And games help teach all of these!
Games Reinforce Learned Skills
There are games for every subject, and what better way to review than by having fun? Trivia games, math games, spelling games, and more can all help students remember what they’ve already learned.
Gameschooling Reinforces Problem Solving Skills
There are many games that help introduce complex topics at any age. My husband and kids have a favorite video game called Kerbal Space Program. My husband was telling me about a story he read on Reddit about a person who was taking a college class. All their fellow students couldn’t understand orbital mechanics, but because this individual had been playing KSP for a number of years, they understood intuitively and were quickly able to grasp solving the mathematical equations. A more recent story tells how a university professor wants their student to teach them to play KSP.
Another favorite game of ours is called Auntie Pasta’s Pizza Game, and it teaches fractions. My kids quickly gained an innate understanding of fractions. To this day (even though we’ve since rehomed our copy), if we’re cooking and missing a measuring cup, I just need to relate it back to Auntie Pasta’s. “We need a cup and a half of flour, but our 1 cup measuring cup is dirty. How many mushroom slices would we need for a pizza and a half?” And they immediately know they’d need 3 half cups. While we haven’t formally covered fractions, I know that if/when we ever do, they’ll understand quickly.
There are many, many games that introduce complex concepts easily. Check out Genius Games; they have several biology and chemistry games that are excellent at this.
Gameschooling Tips for Success
Now, even gameschooling can backfire. Here are my best tips to help ensure you find success:
Pick Games at the Right Level
There are so many amazing games out there, it can be tempting to play games your kids aren’t yet ready for. But this way leads to frustration and exhaustion.
Trust me, I’ve done this enough for us both – stick to games that are the right level for your kids.
Play Cooperative Games
If your kids are going through a super competitive phase, cooperative games will help them learn how to work together. When my son went through this, we modified several to make them cooperative, and
some we had to put away entirely.
Focus on the Fun
Even to this day, my kids will pipe up after a game, “And we all had fun, so we all won!” My husband says I’d make a great T-ball coach; little does he know I can’t throw or hit a ball accurately.
Focus on Interests and Fun Games
Yes, there are TONS of games that are way more educational than they are fun. And sure, ALL of them are better than worksheets. But I promise you, your kids will learn more, and you’ll all have more fun from games that are truly fun. There are plenty of maths in the scorekeeping of most games, and reading game instructions is good reading comprehension practice. So put away that “addition bingo” (yeah, I got one, too, when we first started) and pull out a game that’s actually fun, like Catan Jr.
So, there you have it! Now that you know how amazing gameschooling is, I hope to see you on Gypsy Gameschooler soon!
Ashley Wright is a game curator and writer who creates game reviews for Gypsy Gameschooler and helps homeschooling parents have more fun with their kids so that they can build better relationships.
What Important Skills Does Your Child Need to be Learning?
What Important Skills Does Your Child Need to be Learning?
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