Games & Your Kids

What You Need to Know

Research has found that children learn better when content and work are relevant to them. Games in the classroom strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships and build confidence and critical thinking skills. Marcia Baldanza, principal of Patrick Henry Elementary School states, “Children learn best when the content is relevant to them and when they can connect new learning with old. Finding the Velcro to make those connections can be challenging, but with games, it’s easy.”

Playing games at school gives children the unique opportunity to engage in learning, critical thinking and demonstrate their understanding around certain issues and tasks. Arana Shapiro, director of school and leadership design, states teachers can do several things to assist students in revealing the positive influence of game play. These are listed below:

  • View gameplay as critical learning instead of ‘fun’

It is important for teachers to set down rules and ‘normal’ classroom facilitation during game play. Be sure to let your students apply normal classroom behaviour to the game space in order to uphold classroom norms during ‘playtime’. This will lead to better concentration throughout the day as once the game is over students continue to have the same feelings towards work as they did towards ‘playtime’

  • Let everyone participate

During game time, it is important to make sure that everyone participates and no one feels left out. A good way to ensure that this takes place is to assign student roles. Shapiro suggests, “If you can create an atmosphere where all students feel like they are participating and being held accountable for their participation, you’ll decrease the potential for management problems to occur”

  • Facilitate game play

It is crucial to facilitate gameplay in the direction that you would like it to go in. Assist conversation and actions in order to help students make connections and discover new ways of thinking. “Your job is to maintain a bird’s-eye view of what is happening so that you can share best practices, dispel common misconceptions, and help students build on each other’s understanding”, says Shapiro.

  • Share experiences

At the end of a game let students share their experiences of the game and state what they learnt. By giving students this opportunity, you are assisting them to turn ‘playtime’ into ‘practice’