Gamifying Homeschool for Older Children

Do you use games in your homeschool?

Games are a great tool for making learning fun and increasing retention of information. Making learning a game, is also know as gamification. Often times we think of games for younger children but Jeriann Watkins shares about ways to use games in your older children’s learning.

Gamification has been a hot topic in the last few years, and there are tons of fun ways to incorporate it into homeschool assignments. A lot of them, however, are targeted at young children, from preschool to second grade. This makes sense, because learning at those levels is focused on just keeping kids attention and teaching basic concepts, which games are very useful for. But once kids get older, learning becomes based more on memorization. Below is an introduction to gamification and how it can be incorporated into a homeschool setting for older children.

Gamifying Homeschool for Older Children

What is Gamification?

Gamification can take a lot of different forms, but there are two main iterations: incorporating learning into a game, and incorporating game concepts into learning. So basically, playing games to learn, or turning non-game learning activities into game-like ones. This can include giving point systems to class assignments, tracking achievements and giving rewards, and other common gaming concepts. There’s a lot of discussion about whether gamification actually works, and as with all educational concepts, it depends on the child and how it’s implemented.

Using Games to Teach Concepts

This aspect of gamification is not new at all. Teachers, parents, and game creators have long used games to teach specific concepts:

  • Scrabble teaches word formation
  • Legos teach creativity and seeing connections
  • Mastermind teaches pattern recognition
  • Risk teaches geography
  • A standard deck of cards or some dice can teach several math concepts

There are countless educational computer and video games as well. Some take an adventure game format and insert learning concepts, while others are straightforward games that focus on one subject. For example these reading games put word lists and other traditional word learning tools into a fun format that kids will see as a treat, not a chore. Using games to teach allows kids a fun activity without taking away from their education.

Gamification Using Games to Teach

When Pokemon Go came out, it’s use of augmented reality was the main factor that made it revolutionary. But many parents spoke about how playing this game helped their children not only be active, but to learn how to interact with people better.

Older children can be taught to craft their own games. If you’re looking for creative recess activities, look at these fun pool games and have your teenager help with the installation of a pool basketball hoop or volleyball net. Then have them create variations on common basketball games like HORSE and Around the World. This will test their creativity, knowledge of structural concepts, and also give them some pride in the fact they helped build something, both physically and in the format of a game.

Making Learning a Game

Not everything can be learned through a game though. Games are limited in the information that can be communicated. Sometimes, your child will have to read long texts or complete complicated math equations. In these cases, you can set up achievements to be unlocked, a points system to receive higher grades, and even transform “class?” into a mission or another creative setup to frame everything as a game rather than straightforward assignments.

You can also create complex assignments that utilize several subjects. For example, for a math project, you can have your child calculate the dimensions of several different housing styles. Then, incorporate art and have them draw a creative home they’d like to live in. You can even have them construct a model themselves. Have them look at historical home styles, tiny houses, shipping container homes, and other designs. Bring some finance in and have them calculate the cost of building supplies. For advanced lessons, you can have them look up building ordinances in your area, or a state they’d like to live in. Have them do research projects on the pros and cons of different types of housing in terms of cost, space, energy efficiency and other factors. Break the whole project up into segments and track their progress as they complete each task. This combination of learning rote facts, real world application, and game aspects leads to a deeper understanding than just completing a math word problem would.

Gamification can be useful in both a homeschool setting and a traditional classroom. Do you have games or gamification concepts that may be useful for older children?

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