By John De Gree
As I pull into my neighborhood on a sunny day, a scene from heaven on earth meets my eyes. Our fifteen-year-old daughter, Jessica, is shooting hoops. Anezka and Theresa, our thirteen- and eleven-year-olds, are chasing their friends in the middle of a game of hide and seek. Phillip, our eight-year-old, is playing “noheyball,” a Czech game of Tennis Soccer.
Walking inside the house, I see Monika, our five-year-old, playing a card game with my wife Zdenka. Three-year-old Kristina is trying to push our seventeen-year-old Adam off the couch as he reads.
The Importance of Games
Playtime is not only an enjoyable time of the day for kids, it may be the most important. Children develop into intelligent, thoughtful, moral, and creative individuals greatly based on what they do during their recreational time. Turning play into learning has inspired our company to create games that teach history. Instead of fighting the natural inclination of children to play, we have used this instinct in children to teach intellectual and social skills.
The Classical Historian has six history games for children ages three and older. The games develop the intellectual and social skills of children, foster positive parent/child interaction, are fun, and teach basic historical facts and thinking skills about Ancient and Medieval Civilizations and American History.
With these games, school time becomes playtime.
Dr. William Sears, noted pediatrician and author of over forty books on pediatric health, writes, Playtime is essential for brain development. The more growing brains repeat thoughts and actions the more nerve pathways are built. These activities develop myelin (like insulation on electrical wires) around the nerves which makes them function better. Therefore, games are an excellent way to build myelin.
Games teach important character skills that will help a child throughout life. Good sportsmanship allows a person to win gracefully, lose with honor, and to patiently wait one’s turn. Nurturing the competitive spirit in a positive way, games build character through perseverance. One of the most common attributes of successful adults is their ability to keep on striving even after failure. In games, children grow accustomed to the idea that it is acceptable to lose, and they learn how to lose with honor by congratulating the winner. A child who is not accustomed to losing will have a challenging time in business when he is unable to handle failures.
Kids love to play, and whenever we can make memorizing historical facts, understanding chronology, and learning historical thinking skills into a game, it will make learning easier and more enjoyable.
Young children who know what the pyramids of Giza look like, and know a few facts about them, will be naturally drawn to books and videos on Egypt. After playing the Ancient History Memory Game with my family a few times, my five-year-old daughter Monika, has become extremely interested in everything from the ancient world. When we last visited the library, she filled her arms with books and videos from the ancient world and returned to her mom with a big smile. She asked, “How about these, Mommy?”
Games are good for all types of learners.
I currently teach six classes of forty twelve- to thirteen-year-old students. Joseph is in my seventh period class (the last one of the day) and is the first human to have solved the problem of perpetual motion. He never stops moving! Either he is looking behind him, kicking the table leg, bugging the girl next to him, or fidgeting with his pencils. This kid cannot keep still. He is the classic kinesthetic learner.
One thing that has really grabbed his attention, though, is games. Moving, speaking, listening, thinking, and doing all of these at once, keep Joseph’s attention while he learns history.
Games can also teach the other types of learners–the visual and auditory learners. Reading and speaking about history during a game is active learning. We all remember things better when we participate in the learning process.
One of the best ways to know how our children or students think is to play with them. When kids play games, we see how they think, how they reason, and we learn how our students interact with us and with others. The thrill of the competition also can bring out the best in our students. Doesn’t your child like to beat you in games?
Learning lifelong skills prepares your child to be a champion.
When playing games, participants have to follow the rules and they have to concentrate for extended periods of time. Training a child to sit still and concentrate for an extended period of time is accomplished best through a recreational activity. Have you noticed that kids can sit for hours when playing, but often dislike sitting still during school? Kids like playing, and not just when they win. They recognize the value of having their mind challenged and being engaged with another person.
Combining games with learning is a win-win choice for students and teachers.
Used by Permission: Originally published in Family Magazine and at http://hedua.com/blog/teaching-children-games/