I laugh at that title because when she was little, @PanKwake was definitely a ‘more, More, MORE’ kind of child. Along with higher and faster, of course.
In this final part of our two-week long series on ‘homeschooling’ your children during these challenging times, we return to technology based tools. Today, @PanKwake shares her favorite ‘gaming’ resources.
And if you did not do your homework last week and read Dr. Peter Gray‘s The Many Benefits for Children of Playing Video Games I suggest you do so before dismissing these powerful tools for educating, entertaining, and developing your child.
I confess – I am the only non-gamer in our @HomeCrazzyHome. @PanKwake has been gaming before she talked. And most nights, Alan is lost in some MMOG (Massively Multi-player Online Game). I tease him about his ‘little friends’ all the time, but it has helped to meet his social needs during these challenging times.
Computer Based Games
Despite those mostly urban myths of grooming, Roblox is an incredibly active and free(ish) gaming site. The company is quick to respond to reports of misuse and abuse as well as bullying.
Of course, as parents, one of the things we have to learn and accept quickly is that we can never fully-protect our children. Even babies and toddlers properly restrained die in car accidents. That does not stop us from driving them to school or the shops? So, it is too with discussing appropriate internet security protocols with your child. Just don’t be surprised if your little human knows more than you do. As @PanKwake informed me… ‘My generation was raised on the internet.’ Mine at least was not.
I said that Roblox is ‘free’ but Robux is NOT. Some games more than others encourage children to ‘buy’ things, whether that is a new skin or a magic pass to the next level. But rather than see this as a negative, I have come to appreciate its value in teaching @PanKwake budgeting skills.
When she was little, @PanKwake had no concept of money. That was really hard given that at the time we lived on ‘benefits’ and what her father gave us. Yes, there have been meltdowns over Robux. But these days, I’ll be honest – my daughter is probably better at budgeting her Robux than I am with the household allowance.
As a parent of a neurodivergent person, one of your biggest concerns is what happens when you are no longer there for them. And finances is a HUGE part of that. Seeing @PanKwake’s progress with budgeting her Robux (these days less than £20 per month) gives me confidence that she will be okay.
And not all games are designed to ‘cost’ you. One of her favorites these days gives her the opportunity to ‘earn’ all the money, I mean pollen, she needs to progress higher and higher in the game. Yes, I said…pollen. Because we are talking…
In fact, Bee Swarm illustrates the value of gaming in educating our children. While she has not been diagnosed with dyscalculia, @PanKwake struggled with place settings. She quickly understood that ten was more than one, and a hundred was greater than ten. But thousands? Millions? I was getting nowhere with helping to understand those concepts.
I was toying with the idea of spending hundreds of pounds to purchase matches or popsicle sticks as a means of visual learning. But even then, I could not justify the cost of a million matches. Let alone a billion. Those types of numbers are theoretical to most of us. Even a ‘billionaire’ even actually sees that kind of money, only zeros on a screen.
Then @PanKwake discovered Bee Swarm. As she progressed through the levels the amount of pollen she had to collect from the various fields in order to purchase the things she wanted to buy increased. Into the thousands…hundreds of thousands…millions…and now billions. And the time that it took to earn that pollen increased, too.
A free computer game had taught my child a mathematical concept that I had failed to.
If that is not enough to sell you on the value of Roblox, this platform also offers your child the opportunity to create their own video games…and who knows become the next big thing? While @PanKwake does not utilize this feature of the platform, we have friends who do, though none are famous. Yet.
While this computer game is not free, it is a modest one-off expense. What’s more, it can be played either alone or as part of a MMOG. You can even purchase a monthly subscription that allows your child to build their own world and invite some of their friends to join.
Minecraft is rich in those STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) skills. Your child learns to build things. They learn to read maps. In fact, Minecraft’s educational value are even recognized by schools. Its parent company, Mojang, has partnered with schools to offer a special ‘educational’ package including teachers guides. But even without those, there is plenty for you and your child to learn and do.
Minecraft can be played on a computer, a tablet, or most gaming systems. Though the two options are not compatible. By that I mean that the world you build on your computer and the one on your Kindle are not the same. @PanKwake began playing the game on her iPad but has not done so in years. These days this is strictly a PC game.
@PanKwake has not seriously gotten into gaming systems. This is due in part to her ‘dyspraxia’ or ‘fiddly fingers’ as she calls it. Using a controller is a challenging for her. And since each gaming systems has its own model of controller, she has just never shown much interest in them. We do have two systems in our @HomeCrazzyHome.
@PanKwake is a ‘sensory seeker’ when it comes to proprioception. Back to that higher, faster, more, More, MORE thing. It was one of the things that made school especially challenging for her. And given the rainy weather in the UK, providing enough physical stimulation is not easy. We purchased the Wii for that very reason. Its Wii-Fit and games allowed her to move and be active – even inside. Though to be honest, she has not played it in years. Her favorite games have been replaced by…
The Just Dance game on her Nintendo Switch has replaced the Wii Fit these days. She asked for a Switch last Christmas. She wanted to play Snipper Clips which has been very useful teaching her geometry. But unless her friends are over, she rarely uses it. The system is good in that it is both a hand-held and can be played on the television or computer monitor.
Honestly, I don’t believe that gaming systems are cost effective educational resources. They are as expensive as a PC and most tablets, almost on par with a reconditioned iPad. But even with the networking option, they lack the same versatility. And the games are expensive! Much more expensive than even iPad app.
So, there you have it, folks. @PanKwake’s favorite educational resources. If you are wondering where the books are, there’s a reason for that. @PanKwake is severely dyslexic and at fifteen barely reads a dozen words. But that has not stopped her from learning or developing a highly intelligent mind.
Does the fact that she cannot read bother me? How will she ever get along in this world without being able to read? Well, those are questions we’ll answer next week. Hope you’ll follow us for updates on those and other information about ‘homeschooling,’ self-directed learning, and neurodivergence.