Sunday, March 31, 2013

Don't Forget the Fun

We have a lot of games. We don't have video games, for a few reasons - 1) I refuse to spend that kind of money on them, and 2) I know the people in my house, and some of them would easily get addicted to video games. We do have a Gamewave. It's a dvd game system. We have 5 games to go with it - 2 trivia, 2 word, and a puzzle game. In addition to those, we have several other dvd trivia games, including multiple versions of Scene It!

We also have a few decks of cards, for playing card games. Aside from the regular playing cards, we have Scrabble Slam, Man Bites Dog, and Apples to Apples.

What we have the most of, though, are board games. We have many board games. Most are trivia games. Many of the trivia games are general trivia, though we do have some that are subject specific. We have Big Bang Theory trivia, Lord of the Rings trivia, music trivia, movie trivia. It's not all trivia, though. We have Boggle, Scrabble, Blokus, Chess, Risk (original & LotR), and more.

Why do we have so many games?  We love playing games, that's why. We start the kids playing board & card games at a young age. We have regular family game nights. We use them for school. We play them on days when we're stuck inside. We plan times to play them, as well as playing spontaneously. Our collection of games is ever-changing, as we add new ones each year & weed out the ones the kids have outgrown. Our game collection is currently around 65-66, if you count each of the chess sets separately. If you count all the chess sets as one, the number is about 58-59. Yes, we have at least 7 chess sets.

We have several games we use for school. Scrabble & Boggle are great for Spelling. Blokus & Chess build strategy & logic. We've recently added Budget for money management, Go Mental for logic, & Word Sweep for Vocabulary. We'll be playing Wildcraft! for our study of herbs. We've got Travel Mania for Geography. We also make our own games.

Games can be such a fun way to introduce or review concepts. Games can be used for almost any subject. They can be used for little kids or adolescents. In addition to educational benefits games can have, they also can create lasting memories for your kids, memories of quality time together. I think games get overlooked far too often in education. Yes, we recognize that little kids need to play. We acknowledge that toddlers & preschoolers learn from games. However, I think that, as our kids get older, we use games less & less and focus on formal instruction more & more. Formal instruction does have its place, obviously, but so do games.

We get so wrapped up in making sure our kids get an excellent education that we forget that replacing one Spelling lesson a week with a game of Scrabble won't hurt them. Even as high school students, it won't decrease the quality of their education & may even increase their enjoyment of learning. I'm not suggesting that we replace all formal work with games, but replacing a formal lesson with a game every once in a while is fine. What a nice break for the hard working student. What a fun memory for them.

Think back to your own school years. What sticks out? The hours of boring lectures? Watching your teacher write something on the chalk/whiteboard? Reading textbooks? For me, it's the classroom Jeopardy-like games, dissecting cow eyes, pig hearts, & owl pellets, writing & performing skits, making videos, etc. It's the  fun stuff that sticks. It's the days you break out of the norm & do something different they will remember years from now.

Don't underestimate the role of games, hands-on work, projects, and fun in education. Instead of always sticking to book work, add in some fun. Let them make videos, write skits or plays, design their own games. Let them teach you. Spend the day outside, getting to know nature. Or, just pull out a Chess set, Boggle, or some other game & have a tournament. Shake things up now & then. Don't  get so busy giving them a great education that you forget that fun can be part of a great education. Plus, think of the great memories you're making and the traditions you may be starting.