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Homeschooling offers a good amount of flexibility when it comes to shaping your child's curriculum. As part of this flexibility, you as the parent and the teacher can turn nearly anything into a learning opportunity, including video games.In recent years, video games have become the de-facto source of entertainment for millions of people, children included. Children love video games, and pulling them away from the screen can be difficult. However, many of the popular games your children may already play are full of academic potential. In fact, it can be easy to use popular video games for homeschooling.
Finding Learning Opportunities in Video Games
My husband and I decided early on in our parenting that we wouldn't let our kids play video games. We wanted our children to explore the world around them with hands-on, unplugged activities. We viewed video games as a mind-altering waste of time that could lead to addiction and anti-social attitudes. Now, I look back at this impression of video games as ignorance and close-mindedness.
It wasn't until my kids finally convinced me to let them play Minecraft that my eyes were opened. I observed them playing and was amazed at how much they were learning.
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Surprising Educational Benefits of Minecraft
I don't just mean schoolish things like geology, chemistry, math, vocabulary and architecture, but also lots of life skills that they'll use well into their futures. I witnessed my children cooperatively problem-solving as they created and navigated their worlds. Minecraft played a big role in my youngest daughter learning how to spell as she chatted with other (approved) players. Since I didn't have a clue how to play, my kids learned how to play all on their own and ended up teaching me to play (although I'm not very good at it). That's some pretty high levels of thinking there.
With this epiphany, I started recognizing the value of video games for homeschooling. These are a few you can feel confident will help your kids learn.
Popular Video Games for Homeschooling
As I mentioned above, Minecraft was my family's introduction to video games. I share more about the value of it for homeschooling in THIS POST. Take a look.
Sim City tasks players with building and managing their own city. With several entries in the franchise, each providing their own unique experiences, Sim City delivers loads of fun content.
Sim City is a great way to teach your students about how cities are run, and what goes into building a functioning city or town (yay for engaging Civics lessons). Additionally, students can learn personal responsibility, as well as time and resource management in this game. Some iterations of Sim City even allow players to take on the roles of emergency responders and complete short missions. This makes it easy for students to learn about different professions and get a feel for what they do and how they contribute to society.
Sim City is a great example of how such a simple experience can really help to flesh out your child's academic adventure.
Learn more about Sim City HERE.
In short, Terraria can best be described as two-dimensional Minecraft, but it is so much more than that. During the course of the game, players will need to collect, mine, and harvest resources to progress through the game.
However, unlike Minecraft, Terraria has a much bigger emphasis placed on armor, weaponry, and boss battles. Players will go toe-to-toe with all sorts of bosses and legendary beasts on their way to conquer the world around them.
A common theme when applying video games for homeschooling purposes is resource management. This is no different when it comes to Terraria. Players will have the opportunity to find and craft all sorts of loot that will aid them in the many boss battles. Additionally, players will meet several NPC’s throughout the course of the game, which teaches them about forming bonds with others, as well as other social skills such as sharing and discipline.
Learn more about Terraria HERE.
Nearly every kid loves animals, and Zoo Tycoon caters to this love. In Zoo Tycoon players will build and run their own zoo. Along the way, they can unlock more animals, enclosures, and businesses to upgrade their zoo. There are several modes in the game, but the ultimate goal is always to take care of your animals and increase the number of guests in your park.
Zoo Tycoon is a great way to teach kids about land and space management as they will need to ensure there is enough room to expand their zoo. Additionally, kids will learn to be responsible and take care of their animals, as well as how to appoint responsibility. From running the zoo, kids will learn about leadership and how to run a business. Additionally, kids will learn about and virtually interact with all sorts of animals.
With Zoo Tycoon, your students are sure to have a blast learning about animals and taking care of them.
Get more details HERE.
Roblox is merely a hub for other games that are often user created. Among the zany games offered on the platform, there is space for education. Depending on the game, kids can learn about teamwork and sportsmanship.
Additionally, many of the games charge players with performing certain tasks, or occupations that help kids to learn about the world around them. Kids can create and run their own businesses, or work for someone else and budget money.
When it comes to using video games for homeschooling, Roblox offers a large variety of benefits. However, since it's typically played in a muli-player environment, you need to be intentional about keeping your kids safe. THIS ARTICLE explains how.
More Recommendations for Educational Video Games
In the Techin' Your Homeschool Facebook group, I asked other homeschooling parents:
What video games do your kids like to play?
What are they learning as they play?
The replies ….
“Super Mario Bros, Mario Kart, Mario/Sonic Olympics. Mostly they are learning determination, perseverance, and how to lose graciously (still working on that). And how practice makes progress.” – Kyra
“Super Mario 3d world, some Kirby games, Snipper Clips, Minecraft, Little Big Planet, Roblox, a variety of web-based games and tablet apps, Pokémon sword/shield, Pokémon Red, Spore, Planet Zoo. They’re learning SO much, it’s motivating them to read, it broadens their worldview, connects them with others, they’re a creative outlet and source of inspiration. (They learn about) evolution, history, tons of math concepts including fractals, animal classification, animal care, animal conservation and research, geography, money management/budgeting, climate, habitats, manipulation of variables, scientific concepts (buoyancy, gravity, magnetism, gears, circuits, velocity/speed…), game design, programming concepts, storytelling, goal setting, problem-solving/critical thinking skills, teamwork…” – Heather
“My tween and teen really like Tyto. Its a really high quality online science game.” – Mar
“My teens are currently into CS:GO. I don't love it BC its a war game but the have to work with their teammates online to plan and implement a strategy to win. The weapons all have different values and costs so there is math going on there, too.” – Chantelle
“my kids are into Fortnite right now. They learn teamwork, strategy, and even time management from it. LOL! I know that sounds crazy, but it's true. This game catches a bad rap, but we set up the playstation in the living room so there is less risk of the danger of game chat and such. Definitely a game that is used more for fun than education, but we do get something more out of it so that is my answer. Plus, we have fun as a family taking turns playing so it has been a bonding tool for us.” – Lauren
“Minecraft! SO many lessons from this, including social skills. Recently, my 11yo has been coding his own virtual server so he can host games. Someone will pay him for these skills one day.” – Rhian
“Minecraft, Orwell, Sims, and we play a hidden picture game together “Hidden City”. Sims we've used for a variety of things, from budgeting to architecture. She often does “Challenges” on Sims too, and tries to reproduced things she sees on Lets Plays on Youtube (like an underwater house).
When she was younger and was having trouble with reading fluency, we played a lot of Wizard 101, because she was practicing her reading (and her spelling) while having conversations with other players, and it's a pretty kid safe environment (you sometimes get people swearing and such, but you can report them).” – Gweneth
“My son played Guitar Hero on expert level. I played on beginners level. He listened to a lot of different music and it fed his love for music! He started playing acoustic guitar not long after this picture was taken. He is now 17 and making good money as a musician!” – Monica
“My boys loved Civilization when they were teens. They learned so much history from it. One of my favorite moments was when my younger son told me he had given democracy to the ancient Egyptians and they all rebelled. He was so surprised. I pointed out that he had just killed off their god when he deposed Pharoah. It was a big ‘aha' moment for him.” – Meryl
Using video games for homeschooling may not be high up on any parent's curriculum, but it can have many benefits. Kids can glean all sorts of skills from video games, and they can be used in tandem with other resources. Video games are fun, and kids are much more likely to play them as opposed to other methods of homeschooling. At the end of the day, there are a lot of reasons to integrate video games into your child's homeschooling curriculum.
Are there some video games you use for homeschooling? Let others know in the comments below.
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