The Gamification of Learning has been a very popular trend in the last couple of years. From books by psychologists and business leaders who tout games as a viable method for employee productivity to the reconceptualization of Game-Based Learning in schools, experts have confirmed what early childhood educators have known for years: games help us learn!
Playing games promotes multi-level learning, from gross-motor skills to social-emotional experiences to logic and reasoning. The digitization of games for digital natives (children who have grown up immersed in a technological world) are one manifestation of game-based learning. However, there are many ways that early learners can be engaged in games aside from the use of a computer or tablet!
- Games for an early learner can be as simple as a toddler opening and closing a door repeatedly to a preschooler setting up a row of hula hoops and jumping “on the lily pads over the pond.”
- Games happen everywhere for children: in the car, at school, at Birthday parties and play dates, during bedtime rituals, etc. Encourage their natural inclination to play games!
- Playing impromptu and structured family and friend games is a great way to nurture your child’s passion for fun and facilitate their growing gaming skills!
Here are some important tips to keep in mind for a successful gaming experience for a young child:
-Support your child’s autonomy – let them experiment with, bend, or re-define rules insofar as the rules do or don’t make sense to them.
-Affirm your child’s emerging critical thinking and logic skills by creating your own game! What parameters should exist and why?
-Let the natural resistance, conflict, and cooperation that emerge from game play with peers run its course! Don’t intervene at the first sign of a challenge or competition: let your child learn to navigate these social moments and help them process what happened afterward.