Mothering Forum banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,681 Posts
Educating isn't something I do to my children. It's a process they define, direct, create.

My kids have always enjoyed playing computer games. But it wasn't a case of me saying "here's a game that you can play, because it will teach you something that I have on my list of Things Worth Learning." In our family self-motivated enjoyment was the primary driver; learning was the near-inevitable secondary result (even if I couldn't always have predicted at the outset what it was that they would learn from the activity).

My kids are older (youngest is now 13) so I'm guessing my recommendations wouldn't be helpful.

Miranda
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
738 Posts
computer education

The education value of computer games probably varies, but (most of) the games my son plays (and my little nephew), I would say would have dubious claims on educational value. And of course it depends on what you consider a "game". I do believe that anything we undertake can be educating, but when it is something repetitive without a lot of input from the user, pushing a button over and over and over.... then it becomes like checking out. A Cuisinart then would be "educational". The very first time you pushed that button you would learn the outcome. I would not go to computer games for education when there are other better options, or count on them to be educating. That being said, my son loves the games soundtracks which has opened up an appreciation for thematic/historic music styles. And some kids really like the computer format. Saying "computer games" are educational as a blanket statement, to me, is like saying "food" is nourishing. A computer is a tool like a spoon is a tool and it should not become the definition of a life. Another activity we did as a family was play board games and I would say, in some cases (esp. when my son was much younger) he learned from them: counting, colours, words, symbols, matching/pairing, strategy etc. as well as good "gamesmanship", taking turns, patience, losing, winning, sharing etc. I suppose there are some computer games with similar learning aspects.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,681 Posts
The education value of computer games probably varies, but (most of) the games my son plays (and my little nephew), I would say would have dubious claims on educational value. ... when it is something repetitive without a lot of input from the user, pushing a button over and over and over.... then it becomes like checking out.
Your mileage may vary, of course, but in my experience I have found that when games become little more than repetitive button-pushing, and therefore require no intellectual engagement, kids lose interest very quickly. My ds was the gamer in our family and if I saw him poking away repetitively at buttons in a way that looked mindless, I found that if I asked him what he was doing, what was interesting, where the challenge was, he would almost always describe to me stuff that was very complex and nuanced that I had had no idea about. He would for example, be observing details about orientation and frequency, learning the way the game's algorithms worked, pinning down models in his own mind, making mathematical predictions, improving his game performance by tiny increments based on an incredibly deep understanding of all these various aspects. Looking in from the outside I had no idea.

I was told by a couple of very wise educators early on in my parenting that if something is engaging to a child, there is learning involved in it. There just is, even if you can't immediately see it. Because learning from novelty and challenge, that is what children are hard-wired to turn their attention to. You (or even your child) may not have any idea why something is so engaging, but in the absence of significant mental illness I think the learning will always be there. If it's not, the interest will wane.

That being said, my son loves the games soundtracks which has opened up an appreciation for thematic/historic music styles.
Yes, exactly! You just never know where the learning will come. My ds, a reluctant writer for many years, suddenly blossomed into a coherent mature writer at age 11 when he began writing posts on indie-game development forums for help with modding and scripting and level editing. That was an impressive but entirely unanticipated educational result of all those hours of Minecrafting that had caused me so much worry.

I think that software designed to teach academic facts and skills is often shallow and simplistic and therefore unengaging and of limited merit. The more complex open-ended games usually offer more challenge and even if they're not directly marketed as educational they tend to have more educational value. With the world more and more governed by algorithms and artificial intelligence, it is crucial for kids to develop an understanding of how such systems operate. Interest-driven gaming is a great way to develop that understanding.

Miranda
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
738 Posts
I can assure you

That some of the games my nephew (now around 5) was playing were simplistic in the extreme, it was very hard to know what he was getting from it other than pushing a button and getting the same result over and over, watching him play made me want to tear my hair out. Like so many kids now, he expects to have a screen to entertain him, phones, iPads, in-car movies you name it. He cannot play simple board games with me, I've tried, so he's not acquiring any of those skills. Some of his favourite toys make the same sounds over and over and over ad nauseum. He's extremely fascinated by light up toys, bike lights whatever. My son was somewhat similar. It would be nice to think that spending so much time doing something like this would be rewarding or educational, but I honestly question that. Sure, some kids will become professional game designers, web site designers, product engineers etc. but I'm sure many many will not. We've known people who've lost YEARS of their lives in the abyss of gaming "addiction" and have regretted it, and have never used it for anything. But it's so endemic, and my sons high school seems to require he do online homework, I wish we could escape it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,681 Posts
Well I do think that for kids to learn from gaming, they need adults who support them by taking an interest, talking to them about what they find interesting, who are willing to play with them or watch them play while asking questions, who can help open up tangential interests or extend or deepen current ones, gather related resources, who don't implicitly devalue or deride what they're doing and who empathize with what excites and engages the child. The same sort of support and facilitation that a kid interested in something like violin or baseball would get.

Miranda
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
738 Posts
I have a feeling

you are seeing a very different picture than me. My son plays no sports, engages in no physical activities, has no friends over, does not talk much to peers period, skips school, stays up all night, begrudges visits to relatives, does not do homework, has no interest in helping out, can't prepare himself a lunch, struggles to lace up his shoes (he's turning 15) all in the name of having more computer time. Telling me I should encourage him on this path is like telling me I should buy alcohol for an alcoholic or drugs for a heroin addict. That is honestly how I feel. And he gets manic when he can't spend all the time he wants on the computer getting bossy and aggressive. Because he has no outside interests it feels terrible to take away the only thing that he loves. Besides his teachers "require" him to go online for homework (so I've been told).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,681 Posts
you are seeing a very different picture than me.
It does sound like you're dealing with something pretty profound. If I had a 15-year-old who wasn't capable of basic self-care I'd no doubt change my tune. I'm sorry. I hope you find the help that is needed.

Miranda
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Hello!

After a long process of researching and trying different sites with my kids (4 and 7), TurtleDiary.com was the best. Some of the games can get repetitive but in that case they just switch to another game or activity. There are lessons and games for a ton of school (and fun) subjects!

Hope this helps! :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
919 Posts
Hello!

After a long process of researching and trying different sites with my kids (4 and 7), TurtleDiary.com was the best. Some of the games can get repetitive but in that case they just switch to another game or activity. There are lessons and games for a ton of school (and fun) subjects!

Hope this helps! :)
Thank you, this site looks awesome! :grin: I'm sure my dd will enjoy herself. She also loves Animal Jam, education.com, PBS kids games and Nick Jr games.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
My DD really enjoys the games on ABCya.com. Math has always been a more challenging subject for her but she really enjoys her computer time. I feel like it helps reinforce what she has learned but in a format that she finds more enjoyable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
More than 400 schools in the United States, India, and Scandinavian countries use Minecraft in education. Sweden has even introduced compulsory lessons on the game.

Its simplicity and versatility allow Minecraft to be used in almost all basic school subjects: solving math problems, illustrating chemical and physical experiments, modeling organic systems in biology, and immersing in literary or historical worlds. Games as a learning tool should not be underestimated. School children from the 2000s could only dream of having lessons in games. At least if the lesson is not learned, the student can raise their skill set, which can help you climb the ladder faster.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top