Our children really enjoyed learning through games! Even now that our children are adults, when we get together as a family, we often play games as a fun activity to enjoy together. Games are great for building relationships within the family!
There are so many important benefits that children gain from playing games. Of course, educational games build specific skills based on the focus of the game (phonics, math, etc.), but I believe games also build other skills that make them highly valuable to include in your homeschool days.
Playing games improves focus and lengthens a child’s attention span. Games often require memorization or remembering what others have played, so games can help with memory as well. Game playing improves working memory also, which is when the brain holds new information for short-term use to accomplish something. Working memory is an important area to develop and game playing is a fun way to do it!
2. Games build motor skills in the early years for younger children
Fine motor skills with hand/eye coordination are developed with many board games. Some games also help with gross motor skills, such as Twister, and more active learning games.
3. Games build socialization skills
Interacting and getting along with others in a competitive environment is a valuable skill to learn. Games also build the character qualities of respect & cooperation. Occasional conflicts are inevitable in game playing as well, and so there is an opportunity to help build conflict resolution skills too!
4. Games can improve executive functioning skills
Executive functioning skills help us accomplish tasks from beginning to end. We use executive functioning skills all throughout our day as we do our chores, plan our day, organize our room or desk, etc. Specifically, kids learn to plan, organize, manage their time, focus, persevere, have self-control, and be flexible while playing games. All important skills for daily life!
Many children learn best if they can actively participate in what they’re learning. Games provide a fun way to have hands-on learning opportunities.
6. Games often give a sense of accomplishment
As your child strategizes, plans their moves, and ultimately is successful in a game, they feel a sense of accomplishment, which also builds self-confidence. One of the children I tutored in reading was struggling so much with reading and was very discouraged when I first started working with him. We used phonics games as part of our tutoring time, and he truly excelled at games! Soon his confidence was built enough that reading became more enjoyable. I believe that playing games was a big part of how he became a better reader. (Along with prayer and study as well!)
7. Games offer an opportunity to build problem-solving and analytical skills
Most games require players to strategize and analyze what the best move will be. These problem-solving skills are essential in real life as your child becomes an adult, and games are a fun way to build these skills.
8. Along the same lines, games provide an opportunity for cognitive growth
Having to recall rules, strategize, make decisions, etc. all help with cognitive growth. Each of these skills helps to improve language learning, information processing, perceptual skills and other aspects of brain development. Learning to question, discover, reflect, evaluate, strategize and find solutions will help children’s brains develop well and can lead them to be life-long learners.
9. Games help children learn good sportsmanship (how to lose with grace)
This is something that’s hard to teach, but if you play enough games, and emphasize the importance of being a good loser (someone is going to lose, right?), you’ll help your child be able to handle losing well.
This skill can carry over into real life when your child finds themselves in a situation where things don’t go their way. They learn to accept that life may not always allow them to “win”. They also learn the importance of honesty or not cheating, which is another important character quality we want to develop in our kids.
It’s not easy to wait your turn in the middle of an exciting game, but this is important as you play a game! Self-control is developed as you learn to wait your turn, sit semi-still,? and stay focused until the end of the game.
11. As I mentioned at the beginning, games can also teach knowledge of a specific subject
If you’re trying to teach a phonics concept, you can use a game! Or math concept, or help your child learn about the United States geography, you can use a game! There are games for almost every subject we need to teach as homeschoolers. In fact, did you know that there are people who consider themselves “Game schoolers”? It’s true! Check it out on Facebook. You too can become a “Game schooler”!
Using games to practice important skills learned or to review information learned in a specific subject is one of the best ways to reinforce what was learned and help the information to stick!
My next few blog posts will give lists of games for the various subjects with information on what other skills they build as well.
12. Games help build relationships in your family and they make learning fun!
Incorporate games into your homeschool life on a daily basis and you’ll see your children’s love for learning grow in leaps and bounds!