Today, I’d like to welcome Heather Pleier to the site. Heather is a second generation homeschooler raising three amazing kids on Long Island, NY. She blogs at Wonderschooling about curiosity, creativity, and empowering children to discover the world around them. Have you ever wondered how to strengthen sibling relationships with gameschooling? Well, Heather is here to chat about gameschooling with siblings today!
How to Strengthen Sibling Relationships with Gameschooling
You can strengthen sibling relationships with gameschooling
Something magical happened the other day. J, who is 8, was looking for a chess partner.
E, who is 5, agreed to play, but with the stipulation that he needed to give her “the best moves.”
They went off to play, and lo and behold, J coached E, she “won” the game, and both ended the experience pleased with how the game had gone….
…very different than the many times we have ended a game early or in tears because something wasn’t fair or my ultra-competitive child couldn’t handle losing.
Playing often can help siblings to strengthen their relationship
We play lots of games around here, and we also work a lot on our sibling relationships. In order for this to work, our kids need to have permission to leave the game when they want. No one is forced to stay in a situation they’re not enjoying. By doing that, their siblings are incentivized to find a way to make it work. If they want to keep playing, they need a willing partner, and to have that, the other person needs to feel supported.
To do this, we take the power dynamic out of the game. Winning isn’t the goal. Instead, playing harmoniously with healthy relationship dynamics is emphasized.
We model this as parents and help the siblings work on these values as well.
How does that look in a variety of game settings?
Cooperative games are the easiest, with everyone working together toward a common goal.
In strategy games, we have a couple of different approaches. We sometimes ask the younger person how many “bad moves” we should make, or we set up a mentoring relationship where the one may give the other advice, because the goal of the game is spending time together and enjoying the interaction, not winning, per se.
Team games work well, too, to help our kids work together and value each others’ contributions. Old-school games like Pictionary or Outburst, Jr work well, as do partnering up with younger siblings in games otherwise out of their reach.
Kids vs. Parent Games are an easy way to model good sportsmanship when letting the kids “gang up” on us. In this morning’s version of There’s a Moose in the House, I ended up with 12 moose and the 3 kids had none. This is not a problem, because they were working together, collaborating, and I was demonstrating joy in the midst of a total defeat.
Goal Games are another way to take the fight out of otherwise competitive games. My son might not beat me at air hockey, but he can have a goal of more points than the last time we played. With Jenga, we set a goal of how many rows we think we might be able to build to. If we get there, we feel like we’ve won. With Scrabble, we set a goal of a number of points, a word with so many letters, etc, or some other manageable goal, so the kids can feel successful even if they don’t have the most points at the end. The fun thing that happens with this is that they help each other come up with bigger and better words because they’re collaborating rather than competing.
One of the best ways to strengthen sibling relationships is to laugh together. Silly Games enable us to do just that. It’s so fun to see our kids enjoy each other’s creativity and giggle together. Whether it’s Apples to Apples Junior, eeboo’s Obstacles or Quelf, the kids learn to listen to one another and to appreciate each others’ contributions.
Gameschooling for the win…
Yesterday, my 5-year-olds were playing a German speed matching game called Halli Galli. The one twin was getting frustrated because the other had won a number of hands in a row. On their own, they decided to slow down, started clapping for each other, and worked out a way for both to feel good about the game. It was magical.
Now, we still have meltdowns, especially in pure “luck” games where strategy can’t be leveraged to help everyone feel included, but the kids are growing in their empathy and desire to find solutions that work for everyone, and that is a “win” in my book.
Love this post from Heather at Wonderschooling?
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This post is part of a “Gameschool Voices” series…
Read other posts in the series here:
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