The ABCs of Homeschooling - Letter G

G is for games.

   My husband and I both grew up in families where games were played. Most people play games for recreation and entertainment but the homeschooling community views them a little differently. Homeschoolers know that games can be the gateway to learning new materials or reinforcing knowledge already acquired.
   I have bought some "educational" games.  By that, I mean games strictly designed for learning.  Mostly, it was a waste of money.  My kids saw right through them, and honestly, they were usually a bit dry.
  Think with me, if you will, though, about games you have enjoyed.  A game that has been popular in many homes is Monopoly.  I don't think it takes much to realize Monopoly involves arithmetic.  It also involves some thinking skills.  Obviously, it is primarily a game of chance, but that doesn't mean planning doesn't come into play.  On a much easier level, Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders come to mind.
  Then there are games like ball and jack which help with coordination and dexterity. According to Wikipedia, "advancements in mathematics and language skills are directly corrollated to the development of the fine motor system". In addition, many tasks in life require the same.
   Do you like chess or checkers? According to Educational Technologies, chess helps with concentration,critical thinking, abstract reasoning, problem solving, pattern recognition,strategic planning,creativity, analysis,synthesis, and evaluation. I know that some of the best minds play chess.  I for one never learned, though some of my children can play.
   One of the most popular word games out there is Scrabble.  There is even a Scrabble Junior.  Crosswords and word finds are two others with which I'm sure you're familiar.  Obviously, these games can help you become a better speller.  My oldest son, Joshua is a prime example of this.
   According to Early Childhood News, children under 5 need gross motor activities to stimulate brain growth.  Tag would be an example of a game that would be useful in this regard.
   Beyond both physical and mental stimulation and growth, we must not overlook the social aspect.  Playing games can be a vehicle for learning teamwork.  It's also important that children learn good sportsmanship. Here is where you will probably have to look beyond your own home, even if you have a large family. The AWANA program includes game time.  Our youth group always plays games on a Wednesday evening, and 4H includes a game time, as well.  There are always organized sports through organizations like Upward and AYSO.
   All told, games can be an invaluable and wholesome addition to your homeschool program.  I hope you don't underestimate their value. 


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