Gameschooling: How Games Engage Our Kids
When my husband and I made the decision to homeschool our children, we had one intention - to ensure our kids LOVED learning. School can be boring, and I didn’t want my kids to equate learning with boredom. I figured homeschooling would naturally be more entertaining because of the freedom, but work is work. Sometimes, kids are bored.
Boredom necessarily isn’t a bad thing, but who wants to feel as if they’re pulling teeth to get their kids to sit down for school? One day, I was looking through homeschooling websites for ideas to perk up our homeschool days, and I stumbled upon the concept of gameschooling. I was intrigued, and what I learned revolutionized our homeschool.
What is Gameschooling?
As you might guess, gameschooling is merely homeschooling with games, mostly board and card games. Instead of solely using the curriculum, gameschooling families use games as part of their homeschool curriculum. Some families ONLY use games!
I know what you are thinking - how can games be educational? Games like Hungry Hungry Hippo may not offer educational value, but they are fun! However, hundreds of games provide educational value to our kids, whether it is practicing math skills or learning geography.
The Perks of Gameschooling
My two oldest kids are polar opposites, and my son isn’t as interested in school as my daughter. I wasn’t reaching him, and any failures sent him into a tailspin.
Games made a huge difference in our homeschool. When you’re playing a game, there is no pressure, like worksheets offer. Kids don’t feel ashamed or worried about being corrected. If you make a mistake on a game, we move on, and you try the next round again.
Using games give kids a safe way to learn and to fail, plus they offer chances to practice skills. My daughter is learning how to multiply, so using games that reinforce that skill helps her later. My son is still learning how to add, so we use games that will strengthen addition without worksheets or boring math facts.
The benefits don’t end there! Here are some more benefits I’ve noticed while my kids play board games together.
- Turn-Taking - Taking turns and sharing are skills all kids need to practice, but most situations in which they practice those skills seemed forced and unnatural. Play board games require kids to take turns, and they quickly learn the concept. There is no fighting about turns!
- Verbal Communication - Kids have to work together - when playing cooperative style - or communicate problems they have while playing the games. Plus, I’ve noticed my kids talk more together, casually, as they play.
- Listening - Some games require listening to the previous person’s answer to get your turn correct. Kids have to listen to win!
- Solving Problems and Strategies - Many games require kids to solve problems and create strategies in their mind to win. That takes a lot of brain power, which is excellent! Having strong, creative problem-solving skills is extremely beneficial.
Fitting Games into Your Homeschool Schedule
The last hurdle to overcome is understanding how to fit games into your homeschool schedule. Don’t panic; you don’t have to revamp your entire plan to make this happen! Games can happen at any time, even on the weekends or after dinner. They’re fun. Dad may want to play games with the kids after work - it’s fantastic family time.
For our family, I try to incorporate games at least once a week. My husband’s schedule varies, so I plug games into our plan on the days he isn’t working. We school five days a week, but I typically schedule four lessons for the subjects we use games, leaving one open slot for games.
For example, we might follow our math curriculum Monday through Thursday, then we use a math game on Friday. On Wednesdays, we might skip our science curriculum to play a science game and a game about the 50 states. I don’t play games on all one day; instead, we break it up throughout the week.
Plug Gameschooling into Your Homeschool
Give it a try! See if using games in your homeschool provides benefits to your kids. Your kids might think its strange at first, but they’ll quickly warm up to the idea. Plus, there isn’t much better than drinking cups of hot tea as you play board games with your kids. Laughter will fill the air, and you’ll create beautiful, lasting memories together.