Child led learning can take a million forms. It’s about tapping into what drives your child to learn. All children have a hunger for knowledge, following their interests takes time, energy, and drive. Some students may be drawn to all things art, or prefer living books to absorb information about concepts, places, and people. One tool we’ve really embraced this school year is the concept of gaming. Yes, gaming itself is a universe all it’s own. With my student being in Pre-K, we are leaning into board games and card games in particular. Skills like sorting, counting, mental math, matching, evaluating differences, and working cohesively with others to accomplish a goal are all aspects of gaming. And interestingly enough, those are all priorities I have for learning in this current season of learning.

Finding Quality Games

If you’ve been to your local Target or Walmart lately and looked at the board game aisle, you’ll find a selection that definitely wasn’t available when I was in school. We are beyond Chutes ‘n Ladders or Hi Ho Cherry-O (although those are still solid games!), instead we have access to learning games with beautiful graphics, intriguing color stories, and story book worthy story lines that draw kids in. One of my favorite brands of games by far is eeBoo. While you can find their products on their gorgeous website, they’re also popular on sites like Bella Luna Toys or A Child’s Dream that specialize in home-school and Waldorf supplies. Stores like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Home Goods often also carry quality games, so next time you’re picking up dish towels or hand soap dispensers, be sure to check for children’s learning games while you’re there!

Incorporating Games In Your Day

I like to keep games accessible and in sight, but also curate the selection available because they will easily become a pile of mixed up pieces if I keep our entire supply within reach. For us, while I like to encourage games over screen time, I never offer them as an alternative. If my child is begging to watch Tumble Leaf, I don’t persuade them to play a game with me instead. We establish that now isn’t a screen time and I redirect them to projects, or toys they can occupy their time with. By keeping games in sight, quite often my child initiates game play by asking if we can play something. Or, I use them as a transitional activity throughout the day, transitioning from outdoor play to indoor time, mealtime to nap time, or evening wind down with the family instead of screen time.

Learning New Rules

Anytime you’re introducing rules to a game or a new construct, there can be some push back from a young one who’s learning to play games. For instance, with this Trucks and a Bus Memory and Matching Game, she really wanted to just collect the trucks that were her “favorite”, so the first time we played, when it was her turn, she would collect the ones that were her “favorite” with the understanding that if one of her collection matched a truck I drew, that she would complete my pair! The second time we played, she left the ones that were her “favorite” on the board face up so she could keep looking at them. The third time, we turned them back over. There’s no sense in being rigid and unyielding when learning new rules (especially taking personal skill set into account). Demanding perfection from a young one who’s not used to playing games will make the process burdensome and not encourage the joy of learning something new.

So, when you’re starting out playing games with your young ones, be flexible, watch their cues, and make it enjoyable. You and your little will be glad you did.

I hope today’s post encouraged you to start making time to play games with your young one. Did you love the game we played in today’s post? You can purchase it here.