Our Year in Gameschooling (Part 1 of 4)

Endangered game with sea otters

Our Year in Gameschooling

(Read the whole series! Part 2: Science, Part 3: History & Geography, Part 4: Math, Reading, and Writing)

As listeners to the podcast know, we’ve been homeschooling (or “gameschooling”) our middle child this year. We’d discussed the possibility of doing so in the past, and when pandemic lockdowns began, that was the push we needed to officially pull him out of public school.

A lot of parents are re-evaluating school choices now, like I did. What does it look like to jump into homeschooling with an older child? Many homeschooling parents start when their children are young, and have lots of practice by the time their learner is approaching middle school.

We didn’t! In addition, I’m not a well-organized person. So we started the year with a very structured school-like curriculum.

Escape from Textbooks

But sitting and reading from a textbook together, or doing quizzes and worksheets, gets boring fast. What could we do to perk up our lessons and reinforce the concepts we’re learning together? Field trips weren’t an option this fall and winter, due to weather and COVID closures. We watched videos on some historical events and did some fun science experiments.

Boy standing in front of a historical building on a dirt trail
We finally went on some field trips in the spring.

I’ve been a believer for years that games reinforce learning, whether it’s turn taking, counting, probability, or good sportsmanship. So why not pull in games to reinforce the specific topics our curriculum covered?

On the podcast, we’ve talked about games with a history or science theme. But now it’s the time to put the theory to the test. Our son loves to play board games. Could games help our homeschooling?

Of Course Games Can Help!

But not all games help in the same ways.

Panic Island dodo bird and egg cards
Panic Island isn’t educational, but it sure is fun.

Unsurprisingly, games that are marketed as “educational” tend to have the most facts and accuracy. But they’re not always the most fun.

On the other hand, we play plenty of fun games as a family that have nothing to do with “schooling”. I didn’t want to try to cram education into every game and discourage playing just for fun.

Could we strike a balance that allowed for a lot of fun but didn’t get in the way of learning?

Over the next three weeks, I’ll share our gameschooling journey with you. What games worked to supplement learning? Why did some promising games fall flat? And what games surprised us the most?

Join me as I walk through how we used games to supplement our curriculum in science, history, and literature. It was an invaluable tool for us, and if you are considering homeschooling and gameschooling, it might be for you too!

Stay tuned next week for science games!