Games can be a useful tool in children’s education, whether they are played at home or in the classroom. Educational games can be traditional board or card games, but nowadays, video games and apps are also a valid option. Here are some tips that may help you select the right game for your little learners.
The subject matter you’re looking to practice is one of the most important things to consider. Games that are simply “generally educational” are difficult to imagine, so you’ll have to narrow it down: think of skills or school subjects you want to teach, from colors and animals to maths and history. Then, you can pick a game that suits your learning goals.
How appropriate is it?
Any educational game must be both age- and level-appropriate. With this in mind, you’ll have to look at the language and visual materials that are a part of the game to get an idea of the amount of basic knowledge, vocabulary, and reasoning skills required to play it. A game that teaches complex physics or uses higher-level words will not be appropriate for a toddler, but it may be suitable for a high school student. Also, kids that are a bit older can probably do with some more independence, so the need or lack of need for assistance should also be taken into consideration.
It’s important that a game has clear instructions and doesn’t just expect the player to figure it all out on their own; it shouldn’t overwhelm the learner, but guide them into and through the game, helping them build skills gradually. That said, the game does have to provide a bit of a challenge, because if it’s too easy and allows the player to simply breeze through, it can get boring quite quickly. Some games have the option of unlocking new skill levels once you’ve built up enough experience, which is a good way to get through the various levels of difficulty.
Is it even fun?
Of course, one of the most essential parts of a game is that it should be fun. Since you’re probably using it as a tool to augment the child’s learning experience at school, it shouldn’t feel like you’re just burdening them with extra work. You can cater to the player’s own interests (cartoons, favourite animals, celebrities), but games that simply use an existing game and add a learning aspect to it aren’t always bound to work. Instead, you should look for a game that is designed to challenge one’s reasoning and creativity, and don’t be afraid to try out different ones to see what keeps your child or student interested.