by Jenna Sherman, http://parent-leaders.com/
If you grew up in the ‘80s or ‘90s, you may have been told to put down your video games and to go play outside. Gaming has come a long way from the pixelated graphics of thirty years ago, and games that benefit children and teens educationally can be accessed on home computers. When considering incorporating games into your child’s learning plan, ensure that the game is educational, that it focuses on a specific area of learning, and that it is appropriate for your child’s age and educational level.
Categories of Games
Watching your child stare at a screen for a long period of time can be concerning. You’ve likely heard from other parents, your pediatrician, and the internet that extended screen time isn’t good for kids — or adults. However, is educational screen time bad as well? Hardly. In small doses and with parental controls in place, using games to teach and practice skills that kids may not learn elsewhere is a great way to boost your child’s education. On the days when you are stuck at home, consider the following types of games that check all the boxes when it comes to enriching your child’s mind.
Educational Games: ‘PBS Kids’ and ‘ABC Mouse’
For younger kids, there are many apps that serve the purpose of teaching skills, learning words in a new language such as Spanish or Mandarin, and practicing drawing letters and shapes. Ensure that the game is appropriate for your child’s age. You may even find something your little one can identify with, such as favorite characters from “Sesame Street,” “Dora the Explorer,” or “Peppa Pig.”
Physical Activity Games: ‘Ring Fit Adventure’ and ‘Just Dance’
Keep your kids occupied on indoor days with games that allow them to interact virtually with friends, create and follow dance routines, and gain points for their level of physical activity. Parents can join in, too; research from the Miriam Hospital shows that video games can help people incorporate more physical activity into their day.
STEAM Games: ‘Kodable’ and ‘The Robot Factory’
Games that increase science, technology, English, art, and math skills are in high demand. “Kodable” and “Robot Factory” both teach the youngest computer lovers how to work with a digital interface, write their own code, and even build their own virtual robots! Gifted kids, in particular, can have a wonderful time learning new skills on their own, and gifted education can be enriched virtually.
Games to Avoid
Games that involve violence or mature content should be avoided for kids. Additionally, you should make a note of how much the game encourages your child to sit and simply stare at the screen: The more your child interacts with the game, the better. Examples of games that have been called out by parents include “Mortal Kombat” and “Call of Duty” as these games focus on violence, war, and chaos rather than learning and socializing with others.
Equipment to Consider
While it’s not necessary to purchase a new gaming computer dedicated, you should make sure that your child’s computer can handle the workload of gaming and schoolwork (which may or may not include Zoom classes and online meetings). Look into fiber optics connections, which can reduce lag and buffering time. This type of connection can help your child download games at a faster rate and their play will be smoother overall.
Under parental supervision, video games can be beneficial for the educational enrichment of children of all ages. Don’t forget to talk to your kids about what they’re learning. When you and your children learn the benefits of educational gaming, the days you spend inside will be more well-rounded and more fun!