Gameschooling: How to add more games to your homeschool routine

Gameschooling How to add more games to your homeschool routine Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

Written by Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley of My Little Poppies

Do you want to know one of my favorite homeschool perks?

Come closer and I’ll let you in on my little secret.

(This homeschool perk isn’t something I tell just anybody.)

Are you ready?

I get to read books and play games all day.

That’s right. We are gameschoolers.

I’ve written about the importance of gameschooling in a previous post here on Simple Homeschool, and I’ve also chatted about favorite games and strategies on The Homeschool Sisters Podcast.

Folks often write to me and say that they know play is important, but that they have trouble squeezing games into an already busy day.

Today, I’d like to talk about how to incorporate more gameschooling into your homeschool routine.

Step 1: Change your mindset.

My absolute favorite thing to do is to take a fantastic read aloud or two and then play a related educational game.

Gameschooling How to add more games to your homeschool routine Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

* All resources shown in photos are listed at the end of this post.

Games provide an excellent opportunity to introduce a concept to your child, to reinforce and practice skills, and to build confidence.

All the while, games allow you to connect with your child and make memories.

Put simply: games are safe.

Games don’t judge. There are no red marks. They don’t dole out homework. There is no pressure to perform.

The only goal is to have fun with those around you.

The problem is, many of us grew up with workbooks, homework, and drill and kill. Much of our learning was, well, not fun. And as a result, playing a game during the school day can feel like we are cheating the system; like it couldn’t possibly count as homeschooling.

It’s important to begin to think of play and games as part of your curriculum. Gameschooling counts as learning. Those smiles mean you are on the right track!

Gameschooling How to add more games to your homeschool routine Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

Board games help children develop a host of skills including:

  • Verbal skills
  • Self-regulation
  • Turn-taking
  • Sharing
  • Listening
  • Cooperation
  • Focus and attention
  • Following directions
  • Creativity
  • Social skills
  • Learning to lose – and win- with grace
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving skills
… and so much more!

The climate of your homeschool will improve when you add more play to your day.

Is your daughter struggling with spelling? Does your son cry into his math workbook?

Guess what? There’s a game for that!

What’s more, I can guarantee you’ll have fewer power struggles when you put the workbook away and dust off that game board.

Step 2: Plan your gameschooling

Once you change your mindset and think of games as learning, the next step is planning.

There is no right or wrong way to schedule your gameschooling. Some folks play all day and never crack open a textbook, while others devote one day each month to games.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Add a game to your morning routine
  • Play a game after dinner
  • Choose a day or evening to play each weekend
  • Gameschool over homeschool vacations and summer break
  • Encourage children to use one-player games during afternoon quiet time

Set a reasonable goal and stick to it.

The most important thing is to do what works for your family.

Just as there is no right or wrong way to schedule your gameschooling, there are no rules when it comes to what to play.

You might choose to cover a variety of academic subjects. Here is an example of what that might look like:

Gameschooling How to add more games to your homeschool routine Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

Here is another example:

Gameschooling How to add more games to your homeschool routine Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

Another idea is to pick a focus subject. If your child is struggling with math, games are a wonderfully fun way to work on those skills and build confidence.

Gameschooling How to add more games to your homeschool routine Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

Or, you could use games as an enrichment activity. My kids love to play coding games.

Gameschooling How to add more games to your homeschool routine Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

But, truly, as I mentioned above, all games offer opportunities for learning and connection. So it doesn’t matter if you decide to play only the silliest games in your closet…

Gameschooling How to add more games to your homeschool routine Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

… your kids will still learn from the experience!

Step 3: Play… and have fun!

Here is another important thing that I want you to remember: You do not need an overflowing game closet to gameschool.

Truly.

I have been collecting games since I was a teenager and I have amassed quite the collection but you don’t need a closet full of board games.

All you need are some basics and a desire to play. Internet access is a bonus- there are countless game ideas and free printables online!

(If you need help getting started, check out these resources for beginners and these tips for building a game collection on a budget.)

Gameschooling How to add more games to your homeschool routine Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, Simple Homeschool

I have witnessed first-hand, time and time again, how easy it is for children to learn through play and games. Our homeschool runs more smoothly when we have left ample space for play. The connections we make over that gameboard carry over into the rest of our day. I find my children to be happier and more cooperative when we’ve played together.

Step 4: Record your play…because it counts

When parents play alongside their children, they have the opportunity to work on a host of skills… while having fun and making memories.

But how do you record all that play? How do you “count” it at the end of the year?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Take photos to include in a homeschool portfolio.
  • Make a game list, just as you would make a reading list. Include it in your portfolio.
  • Set up a gameschool group with homeschool friends and keep track of your meet-ups.
  • Make use of an online learning portfolio. This year, I am using Seesaw for the first time. It’s free and super easy to use!
  • Another great idea is to post your games to Instagram with a certain hashtag. Then, at the end of the year, you can create a Chatbook to include with your portfolio.

Homeschooling certainly has its challenges, and it isn’t always easy, but on our best days I simply cannot believe how much fun we have. And, we are making memories in the process!

Resources featured in photos:

Are you a gameschooling family? What does your gameschooling routine look like? Share here.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I get a small commission from some links on this page. Thanks for your support of Simple Homeschool, our family business!

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About Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

Cait is a school psychologist, mom to three amazing children, and an unexpected homeschooler. She loves nature, good books, board games, strong coffee, and dancing in her kitchen. You can read about all of these things and more at My Little Poppies. You can also find her hanging out with Kara at The Homeschool Sisters Podcast.

Comments

  1. Caitlin, I didn’t know there was an actual term for playing games to learn! 😀
    We are definitely GameSchoolers too then!
    Some of our favorites that I didn’t see on the list are:
    Exact Change (teaches counting, money, addition) – (our 5 year old started playing it)
    Gravity Maze (Logic / Strategic Thinking)
    Uno (Old fashioned – but our 4 year old loves it! Teaching matching colors and numbers)
    And last but certainly not least
    Settlers of Catan!! So much that this one has taught our 10 year old.
    We’re definitely going to be checking out your list, can’t wait to find some new games to add to the rotation 🙂
    Thank you!

  2. What is a good game to work on the multiplication facts?

  3. Thank you SO much for this post. I almost never comment on blogs but I’m moved to say thanks here. This is very helpful, different from other home school blog posts. So tired of reading about “lapbooks” on homeschool blogs! Nice to read some new ideas.

  4. Thank you for this! I’m very excited to grow our game collection. I’m SO tired of my kids receiving toys they don’t need for Christmas/birthdays; games are a wonderful gift idea!
    Julie’s latest post: north myrtle 2017.

  5. Love love love this post! We are a big Gameschooling family, too, and we have amassed quite the large amount as well. We don’t play more than a few per week, though it TOTALLY counts on our portfolios, etc. and my kids, especially my son who has some learning challenges, is a big fan. 😉 Definitely better than crying into that workbook.
    Sarah M’s latest post: September Titles // 2017

  6. Christina says:

    Hello!! Love ur blog!! We gameschool too!!! Before we started, my son had meltdowns about school work. This has changed our life’s so much and makes it Sooo much fun!! Ex. This is when I realized gaming was for us.. My son wanted to play monopoly everyday and so we did one summer. It taught him how to count $ and reinforced his reading skills too.. Then one day his older sister (18 yrs old) asked him how much $$ he had in his piggy bank.. He ran and got his bank and came back, sat down on the floor and dumped his bank out. He started counting his $ and that’s when I was shocked & Happy. . HE COUNTED ALL HIS MONEY
    HIMSELF… My heart smiled big that day! His older sister was very impressed and told him he could count $ way better than she could. That day I saw he had the biggest smile on his face, every!! Every seince we play games all the time. My kid learns better when games are involved and I’m learning with him which makes life so much easier & FUN!

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