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.
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.
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!
Board games help children develop a host of skills including:
- Verbal skills
- Focus and attention
- Following directions
- Social skills
- Learning to lose – and win- with grace
- Critical thinking
- Problem-solving skills
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:
Here is another example:
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.
Or, you could use games as an enrichment activity. My kids love to play coding games.
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…
… 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.
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!
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:
- Money Bags
- Vincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories: A Children’s History of Art by Michael Bird
- Totally Gross the Game
- MSB Science Explosion
- Hit the Habitat Trail
- MMRY Moons and Planets
- The Scrambled States
- Once Upon a Time
- Made for Trade
- World Monuments
- Kilter by SimplyFun
- Tall Tales
- Sums in Space
- Pay Day
- Dr. Eureka
- MSB Math Explosion
- Pet Me
- Code: Rover Control
- Code: On the Brink
- Code: Robot Repair
- Robot Turtles
- Code Master
- Mad Libs The Game
- Guess Who?
- Scavenger Hunt for Kids
- Cartoon It
- Walk the Dogs by SimplyFun
Are you a gameschooling family? What does your gameschooling routine look like? Share here.
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