We like to start our homeschooling days with a morning basket. The contents of our morning basket vary. At its most basic, we’ll have a read-aloud book; a mix of art, music and bible studies; and games. Always games.
Games aren’t restricted to our morning basket though. We play more throughout the day. Most we play as a group. Others I plan to play with just one child. We even own solo games that the kids enjoy.
Gameschooling is basically using games to teach. It is as simple an idea as that.
Some people use the games organically, where information and skills are obtained simply by choosing a game and playing. Others choose games to direct a topic they’re studying. There are homes that use games as their entire curriculum, and still others where the games are used in conjunction with a formal curriculum. They are games, so there’s really no end to their application as learning tools. Oh, and they’re fun too!
Games are so versatile and they cover such a wide range of topics, ages, and skill levels. Why leave them for only Friday Night Game Night?
Additionally, games don’t isolate skills. By playing one game, players are exposed to multiple areas of learning.
Let’s begin with the directions. Whether you’re playing with a reader or pre-reader, game directions need to be read and understood. This is an application of a needed skill. As children’s reading skills increase, let them read the directions and explain how to play.
Even at the most basic level of counting out pieces or money, spaces on a board, cards, etc. math skills are involved. Money skills are readily practiced in many games. And of course, there are a huge number of games that target specific math skills as well. Games are definitely an engaging way to practice math in a purposeful way.
Games are a very useful way to practice social skills. The art of interacting with others respectfully, even in highly competitive situations. Learning how to win and lose gracefully in a game is great practice for real life. Explaining game play, discussing actions, basically just by interacting with others, you are practicing those all-important communication skills. You develop patience as you wait for your turn and watch people process their next move.
Of course, there are many games that incorporate those skills, but are also geared to a specific area or subject.
I won’t say that all games are winners, or even that all games are for all people (I find Monopoly to be a very heated subject!), but it’s pretty easy to find a game to address just about every topic.
And if you’re looking to practice skills, which do you think will meet with greater resistance?
When we reach a difficult topic and frustration threatens to derail our study, I switch methods. I find a game that will teach that topic or provide practice. It tends to be less overwhelming moving pieces around, flipping over cards, and generally having fun interacting, rather than sitting with a text or a worksheet, especially when they’re not making connections with the material. Because here, it’s a game.
And if you have a child who is challenged by competitive games, there are games for that as well. My daughter especially began enjoying games more when we started to include co-operative games. In these games, typically all of the players work together toward a shared goal. Everyone still gets a turn, but they can ask for help or advice if they choose. And just so we’re clear, there are many very challenging co-operative games, so these aren’t just for your youngest players.
Gameschooling is a great way to prevent summer slide, for those who observe a summer off schedule.
Games can travel to the pool (waterproofed hopefully), the park, and on vacation. There’s no reason why learning can’t be fun, in fact it’s usually better if it is.
If you have children or adults who are averse to playing the traditional games, getting them involved may just be a matter of finding the right one. There are so many enticing choices waiting to be discovered.
Consider what type of game might be the best fit. There are card games, dice games, board games, games that use tiles, and some where you build. Choosing the best version of a game may also help to draw in any reluctant game players. Have you noticed how many different Uno games there are these days? There’s the traditional version of course, but there are also so many themed ones, such as Toy Story, Finding Dory, and Minecraft. And each version adds its own special twist to the game.
As I was going through our games, I was struck by how many “new” gaming companies and start-ups there are. There is so much creativity out there. It really opens up the availability for a variety of games. Maybe you’ll even come up with your own. I know we’ve made up a few.
My favorite part of gameschooling though, isn’t really academic. It’s having the family, and maybe even some friends, gathered together enjoying each other’s company. To me this is one of the best lessons I can teach.
I’d love to learn what games your family enjoys. Be sure to include some titles to share in the comments below!
In the meantime, here are a few of our favorites: