A glimpse into our thoughts on gameschooling, including our working definition of gameschooling and a bit of our philosophy regarding the how’s and why’s.
Gameschooling is an idea that’s been gaining traction lately, particularly in homeschool circles, but elsewhere as well. When I first heard the term “gameschooling,” it resonated with me immediately. After all, I realized that we had been gameschooling for years — we started long before I had a name for it. We started before we homeschooled. We even started before our kids were school-age.
And there’s a good chance that if you are a parent, you’ve engaged in some level of gameschooling as well.
We know that kids are naturally wired for play and wired to learn through play, so it only makes sense that as parents and/or educators, we’d look for ways to combine games with education.
But wait, let me back up a second.
What exactly is gameschooling? And how does one get started with gameschooling, anyway?
What is gameschooling?
There are a number of definitions for gameschooling floating around on the internet. Some specify that it’s a homeschooling approach, utilizing games as part (or all) of the homeschool day. Some definitions are more broad, stating that gameschooling is any time games are used in an educational setting. Still others distill it down to simply the idea of learning through play.
All these definitions can be useful depending on the context, but I wanted to come up with my own working definition to use here on Boxed Cat Gamers. I hope to dedicate some blog space to the “how’s and why’s” of our approach to gameschooling, so I wanted to really nail down what I mean when I talk about gameschooling.
Here’s what I’ve come up with:
Not too broad, but not too narrow, I hope. But enough with the theory, what about the nitty-gritty?
How does one “Gameschool”?
I’m a member of several online gameschooling groups, and I can tell you — everyone approaches gameschooling in their own way.
Many people (especially homeschoolers) like to match up specific games with specific educational objectives. Their primary approach is to use games to supplement or replace other curriculum options. I frequently see questions such as, “Which game will help my struggling third-grader learn their math facts?” And typically, many people respond with helpful ideas.
This is absolutely a valid application to gameschooling, and I think it’s fantastic when a game can fit in a specific niche like that, and work for the parent and the child.
But what about when that doesn’t work?
I’ve seen parents get disappointed when there is no game to explicitly address their current educational concern.
Fortunately, that’s no reason to give up on gameschooling. Even if you can’t find a game that will leave your child ready to recite the constitution, and even if you’ve played countless games with fractions but your child is no closer to mastering common denominators, let me encourage you: keep gaming!
There are so many benefits of gameschooling that go beyond straightforward curriculum supplementation (or replacement).
I see gameschooling as having a much broader application. In fact, some of the most beneficial aspects of gameschooling (in my opinion) can’t be tied to a specific educational objective.
Instead, they are foundational benefits. For example, learning logic and strengthening executive function skills (both of which are naturally built into MANY games) will equip a child to learn better across ALL areas of the curriculum, and all areas of life!
So for me, gameschooling is not just something I try to line up with the scope and sequence of our various homeschool subjects (although I certainly do some of that!). Gameschooling is something we incorporate into our everyday life as much as possible.
Just take a look at what tabletop games can do:
- Some games teach kids directly. There are games that help in a very straightforward manner with math, spelling, geography, science, and more.
- Some games will reinforce what kids are learning via other means.
- Many games can inspire kids to learn more about certain topics, events, and people.
- Almost ALL games strengthen executive function skills, logic, and social skills.
Intentionally incorporating games into your family’s everyday life will result in many educational benefits, not to mention adding fun to your day!
So how do you get started with gameschooling? Just start gaming with your family. Intentionally. Regularly. Find games that fit your goals (check out some of the resources I list below). Find games that everyone in your house loves. And keep learning, right along with your kids. Time spent gaming together is never wasted!
Is Gameschooling just for homeschoolers?
NO! Let me say that again: NO!! Gameschooling is for anyone who is invested in any way in a child’s learning. Teachers, parents, grandparents, homeschoolers, family friends, and more will appreciate the benefits found in gameschooling.
What about video games and/or Internet games?
I’ll be the first to admit that xtramath.org was the key to my son mastering math facts. And I’m not against video games or Internet games. But for the purposes of this blog, I’ll focus my gameschooling thoughts on tabletop games. In part, this is because I think the interaction between people during a tabletop game provides additional benefits that you don’t get when everyone is on their own screen. Plus, this is a blog dedicated to tabletop games and tabletop gaming. So it makes sense to focus on that approach to gameschooling here.
Where can I learn more about gameschooling?
Check out these sites for info on how others implement gameschooling:
And check back here to Boxed Cat gamers. Follow me on social media or subscribe to the newsletter. I plan to post about lots more about how and why we gameschool.
What types of gameschooling blog posts can readers expect to find on Boxed Cat Gamers?
I’m so glad you asked! Right now, I’m planning to provide the following:
And of course, if there’s anything you’d like to see me cover, please mention it in a comment and I’ll gladly take it into consideration!
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