Let’s add “Fun” to “Learning”

“By playing games you can artificially speed up your learning curve to develop the right kind of thought processes”

-Nate Silver

With this quote by the award-winning American Statistician and Writer, we are very much through the looking glass about what is to follow.

Can Games be seen as a socially acceptable way to Learn?

For a long time, games have been seen merely as a tool for having fun and passing time. Whether it’s school or our households, parents and teachers get worried about their kids when they see them spend too much time playing games.

This perception has created a common repulsion towards games and other fun ways to learn. Games are thus not seen as a socially acceptable way to learn sophisticated disciplines.

This brings about a series of questions

Is it more important to restrict the kids to a given learning pattern or should they be allowed to explore on their own?

Is scoring marks the only important thing or having fun with learning is more important?

Can kids achieve their best without truly enjoying the process of learning?

The last question brings another famous quote by a well known greek philosopher Socrates

Education is the kindling of a flame not the filling of a vessel”

With too much burden of learning very specific things and taking away the freedom of kids to explore, don’t you think we are extinguishing that flame.

I just recalled a very interesting incident that involved my niece.

In order to become a cool uncle, I had to get a gift every time I visited my niece. As an educationist, there is a big pressure on me to bring something related to learning. But, let me tell you, kids don’t see the gifts that way. So, to stand up to the expectations of both her and her parents, I have to choose something which is both learning and fun.

This one time I dropped by, only to find out that she has her social studies test three days later. I was obviously advised to keep the gift to myself (She didn’t take that very well).So, her test preparation went like this. Everyone was in a panic and we all were trying to get her to memorize states and capitals. After a whole day of her running around and hiding and all of us chasing, we finally managed to make her memorize all the states and capitals. Happy ending, right?

No! She forgot everything the next morning.

Now, we had to start all over again. I remembered that I brought a Map puzzle for her once so I finally convinced her parents to let her play with that for a while because obviously their plan didn’t work. Now she was running again, only this time she was chasing us to do the puzzle with her. In the next two hours, she was placing every puzzle piece perfectly and she was asking me a thousand questions about each state (which honestly, I didn’t know).

I don’t need to mention how she did at the tests.

Watching a child learn with such enthusiasm and fluidity can be a very overwhelming sight for anyone who has been involved in parenting or teaching.

This fun little story made me want to dig a little deeper and find out more about what others think about Game-Based Learning.

Let’s first take a look at what experts have to say about the definition of game-based learning and it’s benefits.

What is Game-Based Learning?

According to several sources, game-based learning can be defined as An approach towards learning where a child explores the relevant aspects of a game in a defined learning context.

Some characteristics of game-based learning are:

  1. The learning process takes place through different and attractive scenarios
  2. The learning process is based on overcoming different challenges
  3. The learning experience is positive and interesting

Learning designed in this way have certain benefits which are very well put in the following points

What do researchers around the world say about Game-Based Learning?

According to Educause “7 things you should know about Game-Based Learning”

  1. Games can draw kids towards learning more actively
  2. Competition in the Games can pique motivation
  3. Games polish kids’ abilities while achieving intermediate goals which make them visualize their progress
  4. Games show that failure is not the final outcome but it’s just a part of a process.
  5. Games show how discrete steps leads to major goals teaching them the interrelationship b/w tactics and strategy
  6. Games teach how to approach the same problems in multiple ways
  7. Games help kids to develop confidence and make them independent thinkers

These points suggest why learning with games can provide a clear advantage over traditional ways. This is fair but I based on my experiences, I was more concerned about what roles can games play if children use them at home rather than a learning center.

Why should you bring the Games home for Learning?

In the above-mentioned points, we talked strictly about the general nature of games and their benefits.

We can now take a step further and take a look at games and learning from a parent’s perspective.

Games are not just

Games are a good learning source for all age groups

Even simple games for early age kids can help them to identify colors, recognize shapes, count spaces, etc.

Researchers found that playing games twice a week increased the brain speed scores of elementary students by a staggering 27 – 32%!

In the words of a known clinical psychologist Beatrice Tauber, “Strategy games are useful in helping the frontal lobes of the brain development which are responsible for executive function skills such as planning, organizing, and making good decisions”.

It doesn’t matter how old your child is or what are their interests, games can be a fun way to connect productively for all age groups.

Games can help improve your child’s language skills

Games like Scrabble & Boggle have proved far more effective than traditional methods in improving vocabulary, word recognition, spellings, pattern recognition, and reasoning.

This brings about a better way to develop a good productive conversation with your child.

Increase the attention span of your child

Engage with your kids in a lengthy game such as monopoly, chess, or checkers without any distractions or interruptions. You will observe a clear difference in their attention span and concentration after a while. Research has shown the effectiveness of games in fostering focus.

Anxiety? Give it a rest with Games

According to Regine Galanti, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, and professor at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology at Yeshiva University in New York City,

Because they are structured, Games can provide an easier way to build interpersonal relationships with peers since the child knows what’s expected of them.

It can be a great medium for your kids to overcome any kind of social or learning anxiety.

Feel closer with your child over a Game

If you ever feel that your kid is frustrated or acting strange, games or playful activities can be a better reinforcement than punishing them or sending them to their room.

“I often use board games as a mechanism to work on the parent-child relationship,”

explains Regine Galanti, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, and professor at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology.

Screen Off Game On!

In this age of overflow of technology, your kid is surrounded by all kinds of digital devices and complications. Sometimes it gets really hard to get them away from the screen. Although digital awareness is an important skill to have in the 21st century, overexposure to these gadgets and platforms may sometimes become a thing to worry about. In such situations, Board Games can be the simple, most elegant way to get your kids away from the screen and spend some quality time with you.

To Sum Up

Games have been around for centuries as a medium for recreation and improving cognitive abilities. This holds true even in the current times. There are a number of exciting games available that can boost your kid’s learning and keep them engaged productively. If you are looking for a quality weekend with your kids, Games or Fun Learning Activities can be a refreshing experience.