How to Make Gameschooling a Part of Your Homeschool Plan
Picture this: you’re sitting at your dining room table, somewhat uncomfortably propped against your hardback chair, favorite pen in hand…with the empty pages of your homeschool planner spread before you, ominous and intimidating. A bead of sweat forms on your forehead, while your gut twists. Been there? That first moment of planning a homeschool year is a hurdle, to say the least. Even after years of homeschool planning, many parents still feel that prick of dread, that overwhelming sense of trying to organize a flood of lessons and projects. Perhaps you even feel like you’re about to drown in the formality of schoolwork and the pressure to make sure your children learn the necessities for a successful homeschool year.
Let’s step back a moment. Take a deep breath. Put the pen down, and remember why you started homeschooling to begin with. Let your initial reasons guide you to narrow down the most important areas of study for the year. Consider these the pillars of your homeschool. Now, start by jotting down a simple plan specifically for the most important details. You can fill in the rest later! Once you have the skeletal structure of your homeschool plan in place, if you are still feeling like your homeschool needs a spark — perhaps a bit more fluidity, and room for inspiration, leave a few blank spaces throughout your week or month. Those empty moments are the perfect chance to incorporate gameschooling!
The Importance of Incorporating a Game School Mentality
If you haven’t heard of gameschooling, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Gameschooling is homeschooling with games as the main resource. For people coming from a traditional school background, it can occasionally feel difficult to imagine games as a valid educational resource. However, the logic behind game school is rooted in the fact that we learn more efficiently and have greater memory retention from experiences associated with enjoyment rather than obligation.
Many of us would consider homeschool board games a fun option or a nice idea, but they are usually the first to go when a schedule gets too busy. We would like to argue, instead, that learning games should stay, especially when the schedule is hard to manage. Learning games are so much more than a break from what many would consider real schoolwork. Games are suitable as an independent homeschool resource!
Here are a few of the benefits of gameschooling:
- Games are pressure-free. No grading, no percentages, no marks or standards. No judgments or labels. Even when we lose, games are consequence-free. We can always play again.
- Games put the focus on fun. We all experience increased motivation to learn when we can approach it creatively or for enjoyment, rather than filling-in-blanks for schoolwork.
- Games allow for the freedom to fail. Failure is one of the reasons schoolwork is a battle at times. The fear of failure is stressful and it puts pressure on the student to get it right. If a student struggles, not only can their grade suffer, but also their mindset toward that subject or education in general. How often have you avoided attempting something at which you’ve failed in the past? Homeschool games offer students a safe space to fail.
How to Utilize Gameschooling
Even the most organized among us cannot add more time to a day. Regardless of whether you are already convinced to game school, how can you include games regularly with the core curriculum? How do you make gameschooling part of your homeschool plan? If you’re a planner like me, you may find tasks forgotten entirely if they aren’t written in the schedule. Besides, with the benefits of game school in mind, you’ll want to utilize them regularly, and it can be hard to remember to add in supplemental resources when they aren’t part of your regular curriculum.
To begin, we have a few suggestions for including homeschool games in your homeschooling planner.
- Follow a weekly lesson with an associated game. For example, when you have wrapped up your math lesson, consider playing homeschool math games to instill lessons and inject fun into the subject.
- Designate a game day. Each week, you could set aside a day for gameschooling. Perhaps you want to start your homeschool week off slow, so you choose Mondays as your game day. Conversely, you could kick-off the weekend by dedicating Friday for homeschool games!
- Preface lessons with a game. A fun idea could involve playing a game before beginning a new lesson on any particular subject. For example, before a math lesson, choose one of your homeschool math games to set the tone for the lesson, and start it with fun rather than dread.
- Let the kids choose the game. It is a fun idea to let your children choose the game they’d like to play. For younger children, give them a choice between two or three games you’ve already selected; however, for older children, leave the responsibility to them. Children love making decisions, so they may be more excited about game time when they can pick the game.
- Keep up the variety. Even the most beloved game can become stale and tiresome after a while. To build your game closet on a budget, we recommend looking at garage sales, Facebook Marketplace postings, used bookstores, and of course shopping sales! Additionally, don’t forget about the wide variety of online games. There are plenty of safe websites for children to play free, educational learning games! If you want your children to choose a game, you could even give them the option of choosing between homeschool board games or homeschool games online!
Our Top Gameschooling Resources for All Ages
It’s easy enough to find educational games for our youngest homeschoolers, and especially toddlers, but what about our upper elementary or older students? It may seem difficult to find high-quality homeschool games for the upper levels, but we have found several resources that work for our own families here at Homeschool.com. Whether you are looking for homeschool games online, or you’d rather choose the classic route with homeschool board games, you can find multiple great options for all ages. Click through the sites below to get started with gameschooling!
Courtney Newman is a homeschool graduate with a love for writing. She is also currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in Health Science at University of the People. Other than writing, her hobbies include reading, yoga, visiting the beach, and meditating. She lives with her husband and pets in Virginia.