Those old board games and deck of cards collecting dust on the top shelf of the closet aren’t just a thing of the past. They could actually be what we’ve all been missing, especially our kids, when it comes to having fun, being social, and actually learning and using our brain while doing it!
So go on. Go get them out of that closet and put them in plain sight!
They don’t need Wi-Fi. They don’t need an app. They don’t need a password, cord, plug-in, headset, controller, speaker, or adapter of any kind. All they need is someone to crack them open and start a game.
The multitude of games available today, along with the classics we all grew up with, of course, Battleship, Clue, Monopoly, Game of Life, Pictionary, Scattegories, just to name a few, offer a unique and vast mix of fun, skill, critical eye, wit, interaction and risk that you would be hard pressed to find a match in any videogame.
Games – like good ol’ fashioned board, dice, and card games – build more skill, more character, and more critical thinking than we may have ever given credit, and with that, now more than ever, we may need to give that some thought. The more time spent staring at screens (myself included!) the less time spent face-to-face with other people, making choices and solving problems, taking risks and keeping the brain active.
There’s more to those dusty old games than we may think; more real life in that cardboard box than we care want to admit. Here’s why we say to go dust those games off and get a game started. ,
8 Reasons to Play Games with your Kids
Yes, yes, you get to spend time together as a family. Yawn. We know this one’s obvious, the ‘Family Game Night’ has become a bit more widespread now. But why? Just to spend time together? Or is it about the memories your kids will have when they are all grown up? The moments spent attempting to beat you, learning the tricks to getting faster, thinking quicker, taking risks and learning how you got to be so good? Or those awkward family reunions where the kids don’t really know each other and instead of hiding behind their iPad screen they start laughing, moving around, hollering a good time because they got into a good board game? Rain or shine, inside or out, electricity or not, know each other or not, a good game bonds us, instantly, creates memories and moments to share with one another. It takes us out of our comfort zone. It builds a connection we would otherwise not have.
Board games force us to make choices. Sometimes tough ones. We need to weigh options and think on a deeper level. We need to decide what’s the best thing to do, or the best place to move, or the best time to use a card. It requires us to dig deep into our background knowledge – things we know about the world, people, emotions, reactions, experiences like this before – it requires us to apply both our understanding about the situation in the game and the information we may already have deep inside us. Even while we’re playing we are still learning and taking mental notes of how things play out, whether we’d do that again or do it differently, watching how others play and strategize, and learning unspoken rules or mannerisms. We’re planning ahead, thinking back, organizing information, and reading how others interpret. All of this not only builds, but IS critical thinking at its’ best. To not take everything as it is, to always trust your gut feeling, to learn who to trust and when to trust them, to question and word things appropriately, knowing how to act and react to a situation – these build skills that are above all else the most useful in real life.
Ah, patience. Waiting. Being prepared. Planning ahead. Letting others take their time. We’re all born with these skills naturally, right? Games can help teach these skills by giving a real situation where they’re actually required in order to have fun. And then those skills can come out in real life! Modeling how to support others, offer advice only when asked, making use of waiting time to plan and prepare for you own turn, being ready to play, learning the appropriate times to act and when to wait – these are all essential life skills that can be taught by playing games. These skills will stick with you through life, and be a major character builder – for the better!
Real Life, Purposeful Mathematics
Adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, shapes, figures, transformations, reflections, rotations, strategizing, probability, sorting, organizing, grouping, counting, estimating, totaling, averaging, partitioning, parts of a whole, matching, logical reasoning, money, time, visual recognition, number sense, multi-step instructions, solving problems – well, that’s an entire year of basic mathematics skills right there. No kidding. Right there in a good ol’ board game. Enough said.
Real life, Purposeful Language Arts
Listening, talking, sharing, expressing ideas, making notes, reading instructions, re-reading for comprehension, making inferences, making predictions, making connections, building responsibility for your own things, understanding respect for others and their things, adjusting to the flow of other’s thinking, recognizing a different perspective, solving conflict and disagreements, compromising, taking pride in self achievements and the achievements of others, reading emotions, taking risks, trusting your gut feeling, looking at something with a critical eye – yes, you guessed it, these are all Language Arts skills, being put to good, practical use. Talk about real life learning!
Actions and Consequences
All actions have consequences - in the game and in real life. Now, some of us know this, and some of us have yet to have learned this. What better way to learn than in the comfort and safety of a board game. All actions have an effect on something, or someone, else. Sometimes negative, sometimes positive, sometimes on both yourself and on others. A simple board game, card game, whatever it is, provides the perfect controlled environment to practice these essential skills, and actions, and learn how to handle the consequences. A safe environment to be risky and learn through making tough choices, deciding between risk or reward, to punish others or to reap the benefits. Good old board and card games are full of daring moves that force us to decide how we will handle the circumstances that follow. They have the potential to teach us much about ourselves and about the real life waiting for us. .
When you’re engaged in an epic game of Sorry! or Catchphrase or Apples to Apples or even good ol’ Cribbage, there’s moments when every bit of you is working. Your mind, your hands, your heartbeat rises, you’re all in. Kinesthetic learning like these is beneficial to us all, and often, is missing most in education today. When your whole body is into it, you can feel it, live it, and relive it. It’s a real thing happening that you’re apart of – for many children, this kind of the learning that sticks, it’s what helps us connect to the why and how of learning. We remember it. It’s face-to-face, real life interaction with human beings. Not on a screen, not happening before us, but actually with us. It’s tangible family fun at its’ best, which is something we could all benefit from nowadays!
Win some, lose some
Let’s just talk about this one for a minute. Fear of failure is a real phenomenon surfacing more and more in generations growing up today. Teachers feel it, grandparents feel it, and parents feel it. Just in life, you win some and you lose some. But if you never lose some, then you must assume you’re pretty brilliant... Wow, real life is going to be rough! If you never lose some growing up, if you never witness it in your own life, how will you be prepared when losing comes at you fast and furious once out on your own? Games provide the perfect environment for learning fair play, hard work, winning and, the obvious, losing. With grace, of course. It provides the perfect environment for modeling these behaviours and how to deal with the feelings that surface. It provides moments to teach that cheating doesn’t always feel good when you could've won with your own hard work. Or that you just love the play of the game and not just the win of the game. Or how to actually play tactfully, without making personal attacks that hurt feelings deeper than the game itself.
And the best part? Most of these life lessons that can be carried on into their lives as they get older don't have to be directly taught - they can just be learned naturally through the experience of playing games. Win, win for all.
It’s Springtime. Birds are chirping. Crocuses are blooming. Flurries are in the air. Oh wait, what? Flurries?! Oh right, we live in Nova Scotia.
Springtime can mean fresh, new beginnings. A clean slate. A change. A new start. It means looking forward to warmer weather and summertime soon ahead. The school year is starting to see the end, snow pants are being left at home, and fun lunch ideas are running out. Sound familiar? Suddenly, you are flooded with Facebook ads, videos, and flyers promoting independent schools who are ‘enrolling now for September’. You think, September!? I’m just beginning to see the end of one school year! I can’t think of the next one, already!
If you’re seeing it on your newsfeed, you may already have shown an interest, considering an alternative school for your child. You’ve browsed the websites, narrowed down your search perhaps; you may have even come in for a tour. The fall just seems eons away. Lots of time to decide. Besides, you want to wait until classes start to take shape, or at least wait until the current school year ends. Why enrol so early?
Well, the automatic assumption might be money. The school would love to collect deposits as soon as possible to purchase supplies needed for the following year. Makes sense. Or perhaps it’s enrollment, they need to enrol a certain amount to make ends before the end of the school year lull. Also, sounds legitimate. Or perhaps it’s all just a marketing ploy to get as many students as possible by opening enrollment up as early as possible. I mean, after all, private schools are also businesses. A scary thought that education and business could overlap like that, but it could be so, I suppose.
However, one reason, or the main reason from our perspective, honestly has nothing to do with finances, enrollment targets, or marketing ploys. The reason is actually quite simple, and more in touch with actual education than you might think.
Schools like our own, who’s mission is to focus on the development of each of their students, to remain small, and truly engage its’ students in learning, will thrive on the fact that they get to know their students well. They know their families, they know the students’ strengths, abilities, interests. The teachers can truly teach because they’ve had time to build lasting relationships with each family. They’ve honestly built and designed a learning environment that is catered to the learning styles of their students. Thus, the earlier a student is enrolled, the longer time there is to get to know one another, which in turns creates the best learning environment for the child. See? In tune with education. Right where schools should be, we think.
So, if you’ve been considering looking into an alternative school for your child but you’ve been putting it off, take this as just food for thought. Any school that truly dedicates itself to having small class sizes will hopefully stay true to that and actually stop enrolling once they’ve hit their cap. It’s not about money. It’s about education. Good education. Small multi-grade class schools, like our own, will actually stop enrolling altogether, each year, once a school cap is reached because it’s not only important to stay true to small class sizes, but for us, to maintain a low student-teacher ratio within the whole school itself. Something to keep in mind.
Next time you see a flyer or ad about enrolling early, stop to consider. If I did apply now, how would that benefit my child’s education for the future? If I waited, how well prepared will the teachers be to work with my child and family, or even, will there be a spot left? Just something to mull over as you watch flurries blowing around outside on this Spring eve. Happy Spring everyone!
Arts-Infused Education sounds fancy, but it's actually quite simple. It's messy, of course, but simple. It often requires a change of clothes, a large space, some loud noise, bright lights (darkness, too), movement, talking, and plenty of expression, but honestly and truly, it's not tricky nor is it difficult to implement. It's probably the most natural way of learning for any child (or adult, for that matter) and the most universal way of representing and expressing information. It connects to our most natural sense and ability that we all have. Most definitely, above all, it reaches to children as they are constantly seeking to learn about the world around them and find out how they fit into it. It connects to the sense of curiosity, a child's ability to express, and their need to explore.
What's important to remember is that it's much more than painting and singing. (Although it includes that, too) It's filmmaking, exploring sound, music and theory, creative movement, dramatic forms and theory, sketches and structures, singing and speaking, handcrafting and building - it's endless!
Arts-infused education involves getting your hands dirty.
Discovering inner emotion.
Discovering emotions of others.
Education infused with the arts allows students to experience learning in a way that connects to who they are, creating the ultimate hands-on learning environment that works to the benefit of each child.
Anything infused with arts, really, has the opportunity to inspire. When education and arts come together, it pulls at a students' inner ability and want to create, share, and explore. No matter their ability, their interests, their uniqueness - anything, especially education, that has the availability and opportunity for creativity to take form WILL reach, and motivate each child.
The arts are vast, without limits. There is an endless amount of possibilities for learning, creating, expressing, and exploring ideas and emotions. Infuse the arts into reading, writing, math, science and socials and you've got the winning ticket! There's no limit to the ways to represent knowledge, the ways to express understanding, or the ways to engage each student.
Arts-Infused Education offers a way to enhance learning that anything else would be hard pressed to compare. Students gain skills far beyond the textbook, and far beyond the classroom, that will help shape who they grow to be - their character, their personality, their work ethic. Wouldn't you want that for your child? Above all else, here's why we think it's important, and why it's implemented in every grade, for every child.
4 Lifelong Benefits of Arts-Infused Education
The process of establishing novel ways to think, learn, and do that are representative of one's ideas, thoughts, and emotions.
Students learn who they are, who they want to be, how they learn, how they express themselves, and how they achieve success. Students develop their individuality. They develop skills. They invest in knowledge and want to share their successes. Students create deeper understanding of how things work, as well as, why, where, and when they work. They learn from mistakes, take risks to learn more, and construct new and innovative ideas based on experience, understanding, and knowledge.
The process of working together with others toward a common goal or experience.
Students learn patience, empathy, negotiation, and compromise. They learn how to build respect, earn respect, and give respect. They learn the power of diversity and celebration of diverse perspectives. Students gain knowledge from listening, talking, asking questions, and sharing. They try new things, create meaningful experiences, and build concrete understanding of complex issues. They feel emotion, express emotion, and learn to deal with emotion. Students build lasting, hands-on learning experiences that are connected with a sense of togetherness, inclusion, and peer support.
The process of using original and complex ideas to ask questions, solve problems, gain understanding, gain perspective, and seek depth.
Students develop strategies, ideas, and new concepts. They learn what matters - to them, to others, to the world around them. Students create connections between the world, themselves, and experiences shared between them. They get to the root of the issue. They build strong character traits, work ethic, pride in achievement, and genuine respect for learning. Students apply concepts, manipulate and rediscover ideas and operations, and value the input of others. They seek out information, experiences, and opportunities to learn more about the world they live in.
The process of effectively expressing, sharing, receiving, and understanding ideas, emotions, thoughts, and concepts.
Students are heard. They learn to express their ideas and have others respond. They learn how to connect with others, with learning, with the world. Students discover their self-confidence, find their inner voice, their bravery and strength. They test the boundaries, work wonders with words, find innovative ways to express knowledge, and challenge themselves to new levels of success. Students find value in advice, support, experiences, and constructive criticism. They experiment, explore, play, and reinvent. They learn about themselves, others, and the world around them. Students learn to redefine, manipulate, and explore ways to convey meaning, messages, emotion, and character, and ultimately, prepare themselves well for the future ahead.
To learn how we integrate arts with education click here or comment below!
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