Rules for Using Games to Teach
- Never tell your children that a game is educational. For most children, this is the kiss of death and the game quickly becomes useless. The exception to this rule is the child who loves “schoolwork” and sees many games as frivolous. For this learning style, you must convince the child that the game is truly “educational.”
- Alter rules and time frame as necessary to fit your needs. If a game is too difficult for one family member, give that child a partner or change the rules to accommodate the younger child. If your children peter out before the game is finished, go ahead and call a halt. Next time, decide on a time limit or change the procedure to create a faster game. Once the children lose interest, there will be little learning, so plan your game time with that in mind.
- Choose games with your child’s age, attention span, learning style and interests in mind. Children are all different and the age notations on games are approximate. In addition, many children have very specific preferences as to the type of games they prefer. You can teach the addition facts many different ways with many different kinds of games. Use what you know about your child’s learning style to select games for learning. If you are unsure about learning styles, we highly recommend the book, Discover Your Child’s Learning Style by Mariaemma Willis and Victoria Hodson. It will save you a great deal of money.
- Play with your children. There are many games children will play on their own without an adult involved, but don’t count on it all the time. If you want your children to learn addition, or the parts of the body, we suggest you plan to play with your children. Even if you have some older children who enjoy playing with the younger ones, you will need to commit some time to playing with your children. This is also the best way to know what they are learning and where they need the most help. You have a relaxed opportunity to answer questions, clear away confusion and make note of special interests.
- Keep it fun! In many cases, games are as fun as you make them. A happy mood is contagious, so spread some joy to your children. It is important that you show enthusiasm for the activity you are asking them to engage in. Children will pick up your mood, so determine to enjoy the game with your children.
- Play often. Remember that it takes time to “learn” a fact or procedure. Your children will not learn the multiplication tables if you only play a multiplication game once a week. Your game time may be short or long, depending on your children’s attention span, but you must play often if you expect your children to learn. Even 5 or 10 minutes once or twice a day will yield results.
- Use a variety of games. You can vary the games you use (that is why we provided so many choices) so you don’t get bored playing the same game every day, but you must play often if you expect your children to learn.
Have fun and watch your children thrive!