How To Start Gameschooling

During the fall of 2019, I did something crazy and way out of my comfort zone. I took a full-time job as a Pre-algebra teacher AND boarding house parent at the Arthur Morgan School (AMS) for middle schoolers in Burnsville, NC. It was one of my top most challenging years teaching ever. Not only were the hours long, but, I found that this “first time parent” was extremely and highly challenged as I jumped right into parenting teenagers. I shared house parenting responsibilities with another female co-parent, Lena.

One thing I learned at AMS was the middle schoolers innate love and passion for playing games. They would have played games all day everyday, but, the school had other curriculum ideas, preparing the kids for high school, of which I ended up disagreeing with in the long run. That’s was one of the reasons why I didn’t stay at AMS beyond 4 and 1/2 months. But, that’s a story for another day.

The AMS kids at play. They were playing “keep away.”

There was this one roll playing card game that about half of the school played. Granted, there were only 26 kids in the school. AMS has a small teacher to student ratio of like 2 students per 1 teacher. Anyway, this roll playing card game WOULD HAVE been played everyday, all day by many of the kids, including my boarding house teen, Bradley. Now, 14 year old Bradley (real name concealed for privacy reasons) had severe dyslexia. He read at like a 2nd grade level and refused to do math. In fact, he refused to come to my Pre-algebra class and insisted instead on having a one-on-one tutoring, which he got.

On one wintery Saturday, all three of my boarding house students wanted to do was play games all day long. That’s what we did. Lena, myself, and her boy friend, who came over, played games with the kids the entire day. They played the roll playing card game (I was lost in it and just observed), Monopoly, and a few other games that were mixed in there to keep the day interesting. One thing I learned at AMS was the value of kids playing games.

During the evenings, when Lena and I would help the kids with their homework, I found a fun online basic maths basketball game for Bradley to play. He loved it and he was able to start memorizing his basic math facts, which was super cool. Yaaay for free online math games.

I’m a huge proponent of the relaxed homeschool spectrum including unschooling, wildschooling, and gameschooling. If you’ve considered Gameschooling and want an easy jumpstart, I hope you’re still reading this.

If you’re not quite yet convinced about the value of play and games for kids, consider this. There’s a massive body of scientific research that backs up showing that kids are hard wired for learning best through play and games. Play is the language of learning for kids. This is HUGE.

how to start gameschooling
The AMS kids going back to the school after a few hours of much needed free play at the pond.

That means our current education system mostly beats this natural intuitive desire that kids have to play to conform to sitting at desks all day long. This sedentary model of education further robs kids of their valuable play time after school by saddling them with hours of homework. No wonder there are so many emotional and mental disorders among our kids today than you can shake a stick out. It’s preposterous! Monsterous!

But, you can change this positively through starting to incorporate more Gameschooling in your day.

Not sure how valuable Gameschooling is for your kids?

Consider this.

Here are important social skills kids learn while playing games:

  • Exercising patience – taking turns
  • Follow directions
  • Cooperation
  • Decision making
  • Strategizing
  • Communication Skills
  • Self-regulation
  • Sharing
  • Listening
  • Focus and attention

And a host of other valuable skills including learning math, reading, and even writing through the stealth of playing games. You never want to bring that up though that your kids are learning academics too through playing games as this can severely backfire on you. That happened with Bradley once. We were playing Monopoly and we brought up how he was learning math through counting money. He shut right down and refused to play until we dropped the subject of academics. Lesson learned!

How to start gameschooling

If you’ve not yet incorporated gameschooling into your homeschool, you’re in for a treat.

Here are my top tips for starting to Gameschool:

1. Locate a deck of cards.

2. Cultivate a play mindset.

3. Go to https://bicyclecards.com/rules/ and pick out a few card games you and your kids can start playing together.

Don’t worry about what their learning and what checkboxes you can check off just yet. Just focus on the fun part.

What’s the point? Connection. This is you and your kids opportunity to drop the curriculum for an hour or two and really relax, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company playing a few new card game. You might run into some attitudes along the way, and this in of itself is part of the learning experience. Don’t give up. Keep playing!

Hit reply below and share your thoughts. Are you going to implement some gameschooling? I’d love to hear from you.

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