The Benefits of Games in your Homeschool

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Today’s post is about having fun and it comes from my friend, Ticia {Adventures in Mommydom}. She is sharing about the importance of games in your homeschool.

We are a gaming family.  I just cleaned out our primary gaming shelves.  You did hear that right, as in 2 bookshelves full of games.  We cleared out the ones we don’t play as much, and the ones we don’t really like, and it’s still about one and a half bookshelves.  I’ve got a whole section on my blog dedicated to games (34 posts and counting).
You’ll find some of the well known favorites: Monopoly Jr, Clue, Risk.  You’ll also find some of the hard core strategy games: Puerto Rico, Fresco, Dominion.  The games take anywhere from five minutes to play (Falling) to a full year (Empire in Arms).  Some are silly (Democrazy), some are very serious (Dominion), some are cooperative (Star Trek Adventures), others are single player (Solitaire Chess).  But all of them have something to teach you and your kids.
The most obvious thing games teach is how to win and how to lose gracefully.  My daughter, at age 6, still struggles with this one.  Winning gracefully is just as hard as losing gracefully, sometimes even more so.  It’s one my boys still struggle with, and if I’m honest I do too as well.
You learn how to keep a good attitude when you’re not doing as well as you want (and I am STILL working on this).  Many of the games we play are strategy games, you score point as you go along, and you can see where you stand in relation to others.  It can be very hard to be 30 minutes into a 3 hour game and see you will lose because of the current set up.  You know you will play it out, and you know it will be a long hard fight, but in the end you will lose.
It teaches you strategy.  Is it a good buy to purchase Park Place if it’s your last $400?  Should you wait and hope you land there again or buy it now?  These are good questions to ask yourself as you play the game.  It helps you to plan and think ahead, helpful things as you get further down the road in life for kids, and great for us adults who are already further along and might need to start thinking a few steps ahead in the game.
They teach you about history.  So far, with my oldest being in 2nd grade, we have played: Made to Trade and learned about the Colonial time period, Transamerica taught us how our railroad system came about (and playing that game really does teach you why you have to travel through Chicago to get to Denver from Austin).  Someday my kids will play Fresco to learn about painting in the Rennaissance period, Puerto Rico to learn about colonization.  We’ve played Settlers of Catan to learn about managing resources to build up our nation.
Games teach your math facts.  If you want your kids to become good at their addition facts then just play Monopoly for a couple of days, or any game that requires two dice.  They will fairly soon become an expert at their math facts up to 12.  If you stop by a teacher supply store or a game store you can pick up dice with different sides and truly work on your math.  Roll a 20-sided dice and try to get under a certain number.  When you roll a 15 how much under 17 are you?  Playing games you learn to do this math very quickly or you find the people you’re playing with become impatient.
Games teach you pattern recognition which is an important skill for early reading.  Try playing any sort of I spy game and see who can find the missing things fastest.  These are my daughter’s favorite games because she’s good at seeing what is missing or the item in common.
Games teach you critical thinking.  My favorite game is Carcassone, it’s a gateway game, this is the game that will get you started on strategy games.  Each turn you draw a tile and place it, your goal is to place it where it will score you the most points.  Do you want to place it on your road to add another point to the road, on your city where it can possibly be worth 2 point, or do you want to start a farmer and possibly get many points?  What is the best decision.  You’re weighing options, there’s no best option, there are many good options however.
Games also teach you how to make it work for you.  Many of the games I’ve played with my kids are intended for older ages, but there’s almost always a modification you can make.  Lower the point value to win to make the game shorter, allow for teams to help younger players be able to play, handicap the adults with fewer pieces.  All of these are ways to make it so your youngest family member can play a more difficult game with your oldest family member.
We started a tradition in our family of Friday Games.  Every Friday all of the kids choose the game they want to play and we play as many as we have time for.  Sometimes it’s short and silly, like Twister.  Other times the game can take up to an hour.  That’s another benefit of games, it can help your attention span.
So, what games does your family play?  Do you incorporate games into your schooling?  If so what games?  I’ve just cleared off a shelf, so I have room for some more………

Ticia is Mom to three kiddos, twin boys who are going to be superheroes when they grow up and a little princess. If Ticia manages to keep everyone calm and alive at the end of the day she enjoys reading, sewing, or a plethora of others hobbies during that elusive free time. You can find Ticia at Adventures in Mommydom.

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Heather Bowen

Heather is the founder and owner of Upside Down Homeschooling. She is a homeschooling mom of two little girls. Heather and her husband, Andrew- author and founder of Project Conversion, have been married for nine years. They reside in southeastern NC and have recently joined the Catholic Church. Heather is a nurse by trade, but left her nursing scrubs behind in October 2012, to become a full-time work at home mom. She is a professional blogger and speaker. You can also find her blogging at FrugalHomeschoolFamily.com. She and her husband will also be launching CatholicFamilyResources.com later this year.

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