Have you ever asked yourself, “How can I make our homeschool more fun?” Would you like to add more smiles and laughter to your homeschool day? Well, I have some tips and tricks for you. And, trust me, it’s worth giving these tips a shot. Think about it… If homeschooling is more enjoyable, it’s automatically going to feel less stressful, and when homeschooling is less stressful, it feels easier.
As a school psychologist, lifelong gamer, and unexpected homeschool mom, I have witnessed the power of play and gameschooling on countless occasions. Play has the power to transform not only your homeschool routine but also your family life.
Does that mean it’s going to be perfect? That it will be all sunshine and rainbows and laughter and joy?
Heck to the no way.
But, I’m certain we could all be having a lot more fun!
Today, I am going to share why you should consider adding more play to your homeschool day. I’m also tackling all of your questions (oh so many!), so be sure to keep reading!
Let’s dive in!
Homeschooling should be fun. Here’s How to Make it Work.
I’m going to share why play-based learning and gameschooling can transform your homeschool learning and I am going to tackle all of your most frequently asked questions. (The FAQs are at the end of this article, so keep reading!)
Play has many benefits. (More than you think!)
Play is an essential part of child development. Research has shown that play benefits the whole child. Play has been shown to have a positive impact on a child’s physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development.
Research has also demonstrated that the benefits of play are not limited to children. Play is important for teens and adults, too!
As a school psychologist, lifelong gamer, and unexpected homeschool mom, I have witnessed the power of play in a variety of settings across a wide range of ages and stages.
This is why I am so passionate about the value of adding play-based learning and gameschooling to your homeschool day. Play has the power to transform your homeschool and your family life.
What is play-based learning? Hint: It can make homeschool fun!
It is often said that play is the language of childhood and science has shown that children learn through play. Play-based learning is an educational methodology that incorporates the power of play.
Play-based learning is interest-based learning and interest-based learning is homeschool GOLD.
Interest-based learning is homeschool gold. Why? Because when a child or teen is interested in a topic, they are eager to learn more. This naturally increases engagement, cooperation, and attention. And when a child or teen is interested in what they are learning, it’s easier for them to retain the information.
Want to make homeschool fun? Gameschooling is the intersection of play-based learning and homeschooling.
Gameschooling is the intersection of play and homeschooling and it can change your entire homeschool atmosphere for the better! Play can boost connection, fuel learning, and revolutionize your homeschool routine.
Play has the power to transform not only your homeschool but also your family life! Creating a playful atmosphere of joyful curiosity and lifelong learning will improve connection and create countless family memories!
Want to make your homeschool more fun today? I have 3 play-based learning and gameschooling resources for you!
As a school psychologist, lifelong gamer, and unexpected homeschool mom, I am a huge play advocate. I love to help others add more play to their homeschool day.
Let’s face it- homeschooling is never going to be Instagram perfect, but by adding more play, it can be a heckuva lot more fun! And we all need more fun in these post-2020 times, don’t we?
I know I am raising my hand over here!
If you’re looking to add more fun to your homeschooling, check out these three resources:
1. Never Board Learning
Never Board Learning is a private online community for creative parents and educators who love play-based learning and gameschooling. With a private community forum, guest speakers, Q&As, day-in-the-life family spotlights, exclusive promos and giveaways from some of your favorite companies, and an ever-growing printable resource library including documentation resources, challenges, and print-and-play activities and games. At Never Board Learning, we believe homeschooling can be *almost* all fun and games!
Click here to get on the waitlist. Those on the waitlist will have the opportunity to have early access at a significant discount.
2. Gameschooling 101: How to Add More Play to Your Homeschool Day
In this course, learn how to add more play to your homeschool day through gameschooling. A play mindset can transform your homeschool and family culture.
What you’ll get:
- Over 25 self-paced video lessons
- Actionable, downloadable PDF resources
- Play-based bonus content
- Access to an incredible resource library
You do not need an overflowing game closet to add more play to your homeschool day. Let me show you how! Read more about Gameschooling 101.
3. Add more fun to your homeschool with our FREE 7-Day Gameschool Kickstart Challenge
Join the 7-Day Gameschool Kickstart today and have more fun in your homeschool tomorrow! All you need is a deck of cards and a playful mindset.
Hang on to your hats, gameschoolers! The next 7 days are going to be an absolute blast! Join the fun here.
You want to make homeschooling fun, but you’re struggling. I see you!
Here are frequently asked questions related to play-based learning and gameschooling. Did I miss yours? Leave a comment below!
Q. I don’t think play really counts as learning. I have so many more important things to do during the homeschool day
A. Research has shown that play benefits your child’s physical, cognitive development, and social-emotional development. Play benefits the whole child, and play is good for teens and adults too!
Research has also demonstrated the powerful impact physical play and fitness have a profound impact on learning and the brain. Adding some physical play before math could actually improve results! (Want to learn more? This book is amazing!) I believe that play is just as important as math. In fact, I think adding more play helps all the academic subjects. Play is a mood booster and positive affect can have a significant impact on motivation.
Remember, gameschooling is the intersection of play and homeschooling. We can add more play and make it count for those year-end homeschool powers that be. We make space for what matters and I truly believe that play matters. It can change your entire homeschool and family life.
Q. Games are too expensive. I don’t have enough games to gameschool.
A. You really just need a few basics to be a gameschooler. My recommendations for gameschool basics include a deck of cards, a playful mindset, and then access to the Bicycle Playing Cards website or app. Check out the BGG challenge. You played 10 games, 10 times during the course of the year. That is a significant amount of gameschooling, and you can accomplish all that with just a deck of cards!
Q. I don’t have enough storage space to gameschool.
A. Here are some storage tips. Get a few gameschool basics, maintain a gameschool inventory, play what you have, purge what you don’t, and then remember that card games are easy to store and portable. Be sure to check out this card game storage hack. It’s a game-changer!
Q. My partner doesn’t like to play games. / I don’t like to play games. / My child doesn’t like playing games.
A. Here’s the thing… Play is an essential part of childhood and I believe that at one point, we all enjoyed playing, even if it has been a while! The problem is, play isn’t valued in our culture. Over the years, we may have lost touch with our playful selves.
I want you to picture yourself as a child, close your eyes if you have to, and try to remember what made your eyes sparkle way back when. You can get back in touch with that kiddo. You need to figure out your play personality, and then you need to practice, practice, practice. It can take some time to get back in touch with that inner child.
The other issue is, you may have had a negative game experience. A lot of people grew up playing Monopoly and they hated it. There’s so much more to gaming than Monopoly! Once you understand what makes your eyes sparkle and what type of play you enjoy (because there’s more to playing than board games), you can add a little play to your day!
Also, check out this post from my friend Amy. She incorporates gameschooling and doesn’t love board games!
Q. I have a new baby and it’s hard to play right now.
A. Yes, it is! This is a challenging season and I want you to give yourself some space and a whole lot of grace. You’ve got this! Things will get easier.
Here are some ideas…
Here’s my #1 tip. You do not need to play with your kids. That’s right! I said it. Free play is incredibly important for child development and it requires very little of you. Let your kids play! See what happens. If you’d like to learn more about free play, I highly recommend Peter Gray’s book Free to Learn. (Not that you have time to read right now, but write it down for the future!)
Another idea is to add in some one-player games or to play with your other children while the baby’s sleeping. Just remember, this will get easier. This is a hard season and the best you can do is more than enough!
Q. I have a toddler, gameschooling is super challenging.
A. This is the most difficult gameschool season. I’ve been there. I’ve been there three times. Toddlers wreak havoc. They have teeny tiny attention spans. They are full of big emotions. They make messes.
Please know that it is worth it.
I often compare gameschool development to reading development. It’s slow and painful at first. There are lots of starts and stops. And there are tears and there is frustration, but it’s so worth it.
Here are some ideas to help you survive the most challenging gameschool season…
- First, you could play games that your toddler can play. These might include movement games, matching, and memory games, or simple roll-and-move games.
- You could try playing with your big kids while your toddler is asleep or napping.
- You could have your toddler play on your team, and you could include your toddler by asking her to roll dice, move the pawn for you, pick up cards, etcetera.
- You could also play a game with your big kids while playing another simpler game with your toddler on the side. I know that’s a lot to ask, but it’s something we did at the time.
- Or, you could set your toddler up with an alternative activity while you play. This could be something sensory, it could be strewing, or it could be television.
Q. I have multiple ages and stages right now. How do we make gameschooling work for everyone?
A. Here are some tips…
- You could play a little kid game and add challenges for your big kids. For example, in an earlier lesson, I mentioned that you could play Jenga, but have your big kids stand on one leg, close one eye, or use their non-dominant hand.
- You could also play a big kid game and make modifications for your little kids.
- You could play with your littles while your bigs are still asleep and vice-versa.
- You could play on teams.
- You could play games with minimal in-text reading, there are a lot of those. Or you could play visual games that don’t have a reading requirement.
Q. I have an only child. How can we gameschool?
A. There are tons of fantastic two-player games out there. You could also schedule gameschool meetups with friends, either in person or virtually. Be sure to follow The Waldock Way. My friend, Jessica Waldock is a huge gameschooler and she gameschools an only. She has tons of resources over there, plus she wrote an article for My Little Poppies and you can read it here!
Q. I want to make homeschool more fun, but my child has a learning challenge. How can we gameschool?
A. I love gameschooling because you can make your games work for your unique kiddos. An essential part of play is creativity and the willingness to be spontaneous and to think outside the box. Do not be afraid to make your game work for you. Bend the rules, break them if you need to, create entirely new ones that work better for your unique family.
If your child is receiving services, or if your child received services in the past, DO NOT be afraid to ask care providers for help. When I worked as a school psychologist, I would frequently swap games with speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists. Educators are so creative and they are a wealth of knowledge and resources. So don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Psst! Be sure to follow my friend Shawna over at Different by Design Learning! She’s one of the most creative educators I know!
Q. My child is so competitive. / My child hates to lose. / My child cheats during games. / My kids fight nonstop when we play.
A. Yes, yes, yes, and yes, I’ve been there. I can relate.
Gameschooling can be ugly, but even the ugly moments are important teaching opportunities.
Remember, gameschooling is a skill. No one is born knowing how to play a game, how to take turns, and to win and lose with grace. We learn these things over time. Many of us through trial and error. When you sit down to play with your child, you’re serving as a model. Then when problems arise, you can be there to coach them through. Sibling squabbles, tears, cheating, board flipping, and sore losers are all part of the process.
When the gameschooling gets tough, I want you to remember that gameschooling helps children to practice a wealth of social and communication skills, including, but not limited to:
- conflict resolution
- how to self-advocate
- how to win and lose with grace
- and so much more!
These skills will not develop overnight. I wish I had a magic bullet for you, but I don’t. It’s going to take time. When your gameschooling feels extra hard, try a cooperative game or a super silly game. Cooperative games are a great way to take away the competition, focus on collaboration, and coach through some of those trickier moments. Silly games take the heat off, but still provide you with an opportunity to connect.
Q. My child can’t focus on a game for very long. Help!
A. This is a common question. Please know you are not alone. I always suggest that you start with super quick games. These won’t tax your child’s attention, and they will make everyone feel more successful! Your child’s ability to attend to and focus on a game will grow over time. For now, play quick fun games. You could also try a game that involves physical movement or play a silly game.
Q. My kids always lose game pieces. Help!
A. I can relate to this one too. I’m always finding things under the couch! Want to hear a quick hack? Make a gameschool lost and found. It’s a game-changer! You can read more about the lost and found in this article.
Q. I can never figure out game instructions.
A. You are not alone. If at all possible, have someone teach you. This could be a friend, a board game store employee, someone at a game cafe, but learning from someone else is my favorite.
If that’s not possible, head to Board Game Geek. That’s where I go for all of my gameschool questions.
Another piece of advice is to read the instructions when the kids aren’t around. Remember that YouTube is your friend. I have many more recommendations for deciphering instructions without losing your marbles.
Q. I really want to make our homeschool more fun, but our gameschool attempts never seem successful. When will it get easier?
A. I truly, wholeheartedly believe that homeschooling can be almost all fun and games, but it’s not going to be perfect, and it doesn’t need to be perfect to be important. Even ugly gameschooling is important.
One of my all-time favorite books is Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. I love this quote, “Yet emotional intelligence can’t be bought or rushed. It develops with the slow emergence of identity and the gradual accumulation of life experiences. When we push a young child toward an awareness they don’t yet have, we transpose our own emotions and our own voice on theirs. We overwhelm them. For the first 9 or 10 years, children learn mainly through imitation. Your emotions and the way that you manage them, is the model they imprint, more than what you say or instruct about emotions.”
This is so true for gameschooling. When you sit down to play with your children and teens, you are teaching so much, through your modeling. It’s not just what you say. It’s the behavior. It’s the play itself. You can coach your children through those challenges, through those ugly gameschool moments. Keep your eye on the prize and try to keep your gameschooling playful. You’re building something incredibly important and if you’re in a hard season right now, I’m here to tell you that it gets better.
Join Never Board Learning today and make your homeschool more fun tomorrow!
I would be honored to support your family on your play-based learning journey. Join Never Board Learning today and have a more playful tomorrow!