A question I hear a lot is about gameschooling and teens. Is it possible to really continue to play games with our teens and have it “count” for learning? I asked my sweet friend Mary, a creative homeschooling mom of teens and the owner of Celebrate A Book to share her thoughts with us.
As our kids get older, their lives become busier and often their schedules are beyond our control.
From volunteer opportunities to job schedules to outside classes and sports, our kids have their own priorities and commitments, making the day a little more disjointed.
The days of gathering as a family around a board or card game can seem like they are fading away.
But Don’t Let Them!
There are plenty of ways (and reasons!) to make time and space to play games together. It might take a bit more effort sometimes, but game playing is always worth it.
Why You Should Keep Playing Games with Teens
Game playing is a great way for your teens to learn logic, strategy, and so many other educational skills. But that isn’t the only reason to keep playing games together.
Playing games with your kids into their teen years is a great way to continue developing strong family relationships and make memories together.
Game Play as Family Bonding
If you love family game night, then it doesn’t have to end as your kids enter their teen years.
But you will need to sort through your games.
You don’t have to get rid of the childhood favorites just yet, but you might need to move them around to make space for new games. You are going to need to add games to your collection that teens will enjoy playing during family game time.
Family game time can be even more challenging if you still have younger kids. Your family will need games that are challenging enough for teens but still understandable for younger family members.
Of course, we did purchase a handy card holder so the littlest hands in the house could keep up with our new card games.
Game Play as Friendship Building
Friendships gain importance as our kids enter their teen years. Peer relationships are an essential part of growing up and it is our job as parents to help foster these relationships.
Make sure your house is stocked with games for teens so they have plenty of screen-free options to have fun with their friends. Keep games for teens handy and easily accessible so your teen can find their favorites quickly.
I like to set a few favorites out on the table before friends arrive. The stack of games serves as a little inspiration when they are trying to decide what to do together.
In addition to game afternoons or evenings with friends, my teens enjoy playing games with friends as part of their book club celebrations. Not only do we have a fantastic literary discussion, but the teens enjoy some good laughs and they make some fun memories as they play games.
One easy game for teens to include at a book club or any type of social gathering is “Bring Your Own Book.” This easy-to-play game is guaranteed to produce plenty of laughter.
Of course, because of the COVID pandemic, there are health and safety risks (and local mandates) to consider when planning a game-playing event for teens, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
There are plenty of games your teens can play using video chat and still enjoy time with their friends. It takes a little bit of creativity to modify some classic favorites, but it can be done and the game playing fun can continue despite the need to shelter at home!
Whether it’s a casual night with friends on zoom, a book club activity, or even a coffee house meet-up, games continue to be a great activity during the teen years.
Game Play as Connection
Time alone with my teens is an important part of this season of parenting. Raising teenagers definitely includes days that are filled with tension, harsh words, and angst. I believe that it is my job, as the parent, to make sure we balance these days with moments of connection, laughter, and love.
There are so many ways to reconnect after a rough day, but playing a game with my teen is a great activity to move through hurt feelings and tense moments. The game itself is a natural activity we can ease into as we put a rough moment (or day) behind us.
Playing a game with my teen is also a great way to spend time with them one on one, a luxury in a house with four teens and tweens running around. It creates a moment of connection for just two of us and it helps me focus on conversation with just one of my kids.
In our home, the evenings seem to provide the best opportunity for me and one of the teens to pull out one of our favorite two-player games. The best timing seems to be right after we clear the dinner table or just before bedtime. The atmosphere in our home is relaxed and it’s a great time to connect.
Game Play as Sneaky Learning
If your family is in love with gameschooling, then it doesn’t have to end in the teen years. Games are still a fantastic way to sneak learning into your day while having fun!
I happen to think that ALL games teach valuable skills, but there are definitely games that seem to relate directly to a particular school subject.
Math games for teens include some of our favorite games in this house and we pull them out regularly. I can no longer “cancel” a day of math in favor of a game the way I could when the kids were little, but we still pull them out for some fun.
Our family still starts our day with Morning Time, even though Morning Time is a little different with teens. This is a great time to sneak in some learning through playing games. Just set a game out on the table the night before and when your school day begins, start with a game. Then everyone can head their separate ways and you have already snuck in some learning AND fun!
Game Play is Always Worth It
Every family has its own vibe and routine and things change every season as kids’ schedules alter. Be creative as you find ways to play games with your kids – the time together will always be worth it.
A Note From Cait:
Most of you probably already know Mary, as she and I have worked together for years. I am honored to call her a friend. Mary is a wonderfully creative mom and I am so impressed with how she has transitioned to homeschooling teens, without losing the fun!
Mary is a writer, speaker, and mother to four kids ranging from 6th to 12th grade.
On her homeschool blog, Mary Hanna Wilson, Mary encourages families to embrace the freedom that comes with homeschooling and has been sharing resources, tips, and ideas online since 2015. Mary also just launched a new website, Celebrate a Book, to encourage and support parents as they celebrate literature and organize book clubs for kids.
Are you looking for support on your play-based learning and gameschooling journey?
Check out Never Board Learning, an online membership community for creative parents and educators who embrace play-based learning. Never Board Learning features a private forum (not FB), guest speakers, Q and As, day-in-the-life family spotlights, a growing resource library, and more! Here’s a sneak peek: