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Giving Your Kids a 21st Century Education with SimplyFun! 

A guest blog post from SimplyFun

At SimplyFun we have a number of opportunities throughout the year to meet homeschool parents and their kids.  What we love most about those conversations is hearing how home school parents use activities and games to enhance the creation of core competencies and skills.  We know that the public school system struggles to deliver the kind of well-rounded education that will create success for our children.  Certain skills just seem to be missing from the curriculum.  One organization, The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) founded in 2002 by a notable group of business, education and policymakers is striving to turn that around.  Homeschool parents, however, have the advantage as you can take immediate and actionable steps right now to enrich your learning plans to focus on these needed skills.  And you can do this not with more hours on the computer, but by incorporating more play into your daily routine!

Whether it is building resiliency in our kids or giving them a 21st century education, skill based learning stands out as the strongest method to create a path for your child’s ultimate success in the adult world.  So much of our educational past has been focused on learning facts for the purpose of being able to excel at standardized tests.  Fact based learning really only develops one skill, and that is memorization.  In today’s world, facts are at our fingertips.  What our kids really need to know is how to problem solve, collaborate and communicate.  When you think about it, none of the World’s major problems have answers that exist today. If they did, they wouldn’t still be problems.  So we must educate the upcoming generation of problem solvers to face challenges at every turn and to deal with what is clearly a very complex world.  To do this we must build a diverse set of skills that will lead our kids to success.

At SimplyFun we look at some 13 different competencies when evaluating our games, competencies that you should be developing in your kids through your curriculum.  They are:

Explore – To inquire about the truth of something.  How does it work? What do I want to know?

Determine – To find out or conclude something by combining information.

Compare – To find similarities and differences, to relate or associate items.

Remember – To recall or retain in the mind.

Predict – To expect or hypothesize what will happen and what are the consequences.

Plan – To design or think about how to reach a goal.

Experiment – To test or try different approaches.

Practice – To repeat numerous times to improve.

Solve – To find information or strategies that lead to new understanding or solution.

Review – To look back on something and understand what you did to cause success or failure.

Demonstrate – To show, describe or illustrate what you learned.

Imagine – To envision unique or unusual ideas.

Create – To produce, conceive or invent (the innovation process.)

So how do you foster growth in these areas in your lesson plans?  Well it is easier than you might think.  Right now you may be using game play to supplement your basic subjects like math and language, or using games as a break time activity, more a fun focus than learning.  Game play is very good at doing both of those things, turning a math lesson into fun and providing laughter for relaxation.  But game play can do much more!

The style of game often determines the dominate competencies to be experienced.  For example, chess and strategy games are a wonderful way to experiment, predict and plan.  Storytelling and language games help support imagination and creativity.  Games using math or dice allow for solving and practicing.  Trivia and concentration style games are perfect for remembering.  Matching games support comparing and contrasting.  Puzzle and spatial reasoning games (visual mapping) allow kids to explore different solutions and determine which alternative is best.  And in the end their results demonstrate their capabilities and those of the people you are playing with.  Watching the results of others in combination with their own actions allows your kids to review outcomes and learn alternative approaches that may be successful.  The best part is that most games contribute something to each of the 13 categories, some more strongly than others.  So you really are working on groups of these competencies each time you play!

Embracing the use of play to develop these important competencies can help you reinforce the important skills in life.  We want our kids to contribute at the top level of their capabilities and giving them a real 21st century education prepares them for what lies ahead.   And as serious as this subject is, who says we can’t have some fun and laughter while we do it by using game play as our partner to achieve our learning goals.


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