Okay, you guys. The Gameschooling by Age series is finally here. I hope it will help you to select the best educational games by grade level for your homeschool!
Over the past several years, I’ve received countless requests for this series, but I struggled to write it. Why? Because I don’t think play- or learning, for that matter- should be confined to age groups and grade levels.
We are homeschoolers after all! We aren’t confined to those public school boxes. Our kids can learn chemistry in elementary school if the spirit moves them, just like this fella right here:
I’m going to talk more about that fella in a minute. Stay tuned!
I don’t love confining our children to age and grade levels because I firmly believe that children learn best when they are interested in a topic, regardless of age.
That’s why I wrote my Lazy Unit Study ebook and created the Lazy Unit Study 101 digital course. I want parents to feel equipped to relax, tell that Ghost of Public School Past to shush, and to surrender to delight-driven learning. (Psst! Use the code HAPPYHOLIDAYS from now through 1/1/20 to get a discount on these resources!)
But embracing rabbit holes and surrendering to delight-driven learning isn’t the only reason I struggled to write this series. Without boring you too much, I want you to know that there is so much that goes into getting that age level stamped on that board game box. Yes, it has a bit to do with reading level, but it also has to do with government rules and regulations.
That’s why I don’t pay attention to age or grade level when it comes to gameschooling. Our family will play almost anything as long as the kiddos are interested in the game. We modify the game as needed and create house rules when necessary. (I also believe almost any game can be modified to work for your family. That post will be coming soon, promise!)
All that said, I do believe age and grade levels can be a helpful starting place for gameschooling.
Age and grade levels do serve a purpose. They give you a ballpark idea when you are looking at an unfamiliar resource. And when it comes to younger children, age level can help with skill and safety concerns. If you have a bunch of little ones, you don’t want to worry about choking hazards and you might not want to modify games just yet.
And that’s why I decided to finally write this Gameschooling by Age series for you!
I just want to be clear, from the outset, that you don’t need to be confined to that proverbial box. Don’t be afraid to step outside that game box and play what you wish!
I’m going to share a favorite story that illustrates my sentiments above. It’s about my youngest gameschooler and his BFF.
Note: I have included this story in each post in this series because I feel strongly about its message. If you have already read it, please just skip ahead.
I have three children (ages 11, 10, and 8) and they are all big gamers. That said, my littlest guy has always been the biggest gamer of the bunch. He could play games all day. He often plays games with his imaginary BFF, Mister Pancake, when no one else is available.
Several years ago, my 4-year-old little guy was on the cusp of learning how to read. At that time, our entire family was obsessed with a quirky little card game from Gamewright called GUBS.
The littlest fella was, by far, the most obsessed member of our party. He woke up in the morning and asked to play GUBS. He wanted to play one last round before the day was done. I kid you not- my thumbs were sore from all the shuffling.
We were having a blast and making oodles of memories but there was one problem: the little guy couldn’t read yet and so he needed to be on my team. (Psst! You can modify almost any game and make it work for little ones by playing in teams.)
For those unfamiliar with GUBS, it’s a card game based on an imaginary world. For a little kid, there are lots of unfamiliar words: Velvet Moth, Toad Rider, Esteemed Elder, Super Lure, Haki Flute. I could go on and on.
What I’m trying to say is that GUBS was not the BOB Book of the game world. It was tricky! It was way above his reading level.
My little guy was head over heels with this game. He’s a pretty imaginative little fella and he was completely lost in the land of GUBS. He talked about the world, its characters, and its obstacles morning, noon, and night.
He was determined to play GUBS independently. As much as he loved to play with us, he was tired of being on my team. And do you know what? In a matter of a month or two, he accomplished his goal. He could play GUBS without assistance. He could read all the cards.
And then, he read Fantastic Mr. Fox all by himself! He was a reader and to this day I give full credit to his determination and that quirky little card game.
I want you to consider a few things, and think about these things as they relate to gameschooling your child…
Is GUBS one of those “educational” games that you see on Pinterest? Nope.
Did the box say that it was for 4-year-olds? No.
Does it explicitly teach reading? Not even a little.
Here’s the thing that we tend to forget: Play is crucial for a child’s development and all children learn through play.
Gameschooling offers kids a chance to learn new skills, to practice old ones, to fail, to succeed, and to try again. Games don’t judge. They aren’t threatening. Games don’t assign homework. They don’t correct. Games offer a safe space for learning.
When children want to play something, and they want to play it again and again and again, they are learning something important. Don’t get caught up in the ages listed on the box, or the skills you feel your child “should” be learning right now, just follow their interest and they will learn oodles and bunches. Because that’s what kids are born to do!
Children need to play, period. They do not need an “educational” game to build skills. If we are being honest, they don’t need a game at all!
Here’s another example:
Fun fact: the cardboard box was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2005 and the stick was inducted in 2008!
Don’t believe me? Watch some of the TED talks or read some of the articles and books listed here. Play has been scientifically proven to be good for all of us, not just our kiddos!
Gameschooling by Age: How to Homeschool with Fantastic Educational Games!
Without further ado, let’s chat about gameschool resources by age and grade level!
Gameschooling by Age: Preschool Can Be Tricky But It’s Worth It!
I don’t know about you, but I have always loved board games. When I first started gameschooling with my kiddos, I assumed things would be… easy.
Well, things weren’t easy. Not even a little bit. The kids were wiggle worms. Their attention span seemed to last milliseconds. My kids squabbled. They cried. Boards were flipped and tempers flared.
But over time, with heaps of patience, I grew gamers. Like anything in parenting or homeschooling, good things take time. The days are long but the years are short. If you are deep in the throes, I want you to know that you’ve got this and also that it will get easier with time.
Gameschooling by Age: Preschool
Here are some fantastic resources for the preschoolers in your life:
Gameschooling by Age: Elementary School is Such a Fun Gameschool Stage!
I have two kiddos in elementary school at present and, some days, I can’t believe I get to read delicious books and play games all day!
Games for Elementary School, By Academic Subject:
Gameschooling by Age: Connect with Tweens and Teens!
When I started this blog, I had a kindergartener. I now have a tween. Where is the pause button, you guys?!
When I worked as a school psychologist, I used games to connect with students. This worked especially well with tweens and teens. They could chat with me but avoid eye contact and they had something to do with their hands. Before they knew it, we were having fun and growing an important connection.
This strategy works for our tweens and teens, too! Do you know how our tweens and teens get moody and broody? They withdraw a bit and it can be tough to know what they are thinking.
Gameschooling helps. In our world, games can be magical. Sure, it might start with him bellyaching that he doesn’t want to play with me, but if I add some hot cocoa and popcorn and a dollop of patience, he’s soon chatting and enjoying our time together.
Gameschooling by Age: Tweens and Teens
Here are some resources that your teen may enjoy:
Gameschooling by Academic Subject and Category, regardless of age/grade level
If you agree with my thoughts at the beginning of this article, you may enjoy these resources:
- The Ultimate Gameschooling Resource Page
- Gameschooling by Subject: The Best Games for Your Homeschool
Gameschooling on a Budget
Psst! Aside from Christmas, I rarely buy new games. Instead, I love to gameschool on a budget. Here are my best tips:
- Gameschooling on a Budget: How to Play More without Breaking the Bank
- The Best Gameschooling Resources for Under $15
- Gameschool Resources for Under $25
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me: What are your family’s favorite tips for gameschooling by age? Do you have a story to share about how a game helped your child learn a new skill or overcome a learning obstacle? Share here!
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