I am an unexpected homeschooler. We landed here, swiftly and without warning, almost four years ago. As a product of public schools and being a school psychologist, homeschooling was never on my radar.
And yet here we are.
When we first started homeschooling, like many, I attempted to recreate a version of school at home. And it backfired. The first year of homeschooling is an evolution of sorts. It is filled with fits and starts and successes and tears until, eventually, you manage to find your groove.
Often, that groove looks nothing like the public school days of your past. Mine certainly didn’t! Our homeschool days center around high-quality read alouds and educational games.
That’s right: We are gameschoolers.
Gameschooling: Homeschooling Through Play
When parents play alongside their children, they have the opportunity to work on a host of skills… while having fun and making memories!
Here’s the thing about using games to learn:
They don’t judge.
There are no corrections.
No red marks.
No pressure to perform.
Games are safe.
Gameplay offers children a chance to practice and build skills in a no-pressure, non-judgmental way. If the game doesn’t go the way you wanted it to, you can start over and try again.
Benefits of board games
Children learn how to navigate their world through play. Board games can help children develop the following skills:
- Verbal communication
- Focus and attention
- Following directions
- Social skills
- Learning to lose – and win- with grace
- Logic skills
- Critical thinking
- Strategy and planning
- And more
Work on academic skills through board game play
There are some fantastic games on the market today. Is your child struggling with reading? Does your kiddo cry over his math workbook? Guess what? There’s a game for that, and I can guarantee you’ll have fewer power struggles when you swap out the workbook for the game board.
Over the summer, my daughter was struggling to understand coins identification and value. She cried over her math book and so we set up a play store. That helped a little bit, but she was still having trouble and so I pulled out a game called Money Bags. All three of my kiddos loved the game and the best part? Within a week my daughter had not only mastered coin identification and value, but she’d learned to make
All three of my kiddos loved the game and the best part? Within a week my daughter had not only mastered coin identification and value, but she’d learned to make change… and – as an added bonus- my youngest had learned to skip count by tens and fives!
As a lifelong game addict and now gameschooler, here are my favorite games organized by category:
Gameschooling tips for beginners
Are you interested in adding more gameplay to your homeschool, but you don’t know how to get started? Here are some links to get you started:
- Building Your Game Closet on a Budget
- Finding Time to Play
- Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling with Games
- Gameschooling: Learning Through Play
Homeschooling can be [almost] all fun and games
I have witnessed first-hand, time and time again, how easy it is for children to learn through play and games. Homeschooling certainly has its challenges, and it isn’t always easy, but on our best days I simply cannot believe how much fun we have. And, we are making memories in the process!
Now, it’s your turn. Tell us: What is your family’s favorite game?
Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley, MA/CAGS is a school psychologist, mom to 3 amazing children, and an unexpected homeschooler. She writes about the journey at My Little Poppies. Cait is co-host of The Homeschool Sisters Podcast. She is the founder of Granite State Gifted, a support group for families of gifted children in the NH and MA area, and co-founder of Raising Poppies, an online Facebook community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children.
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