Pimpcron explains how beneficial gaming can be for a developing mind.
Cheers blogosphere! It is I, Pimpcron here with a discussion on how we can use gaming for child development.
I’m sure this comes off as a no-brainer to you, but there is generally a lot of math in gaming that you have to do in your head. And what is so great (and devious) about this mental math that we do during games, is that we do it without thinking because we are being distracted by the game. Sometimes you are adding to see if you penetrated enemy armor, or multiplying to find out how many Ork Boy attacks you’re getting. Maybe you are just making an army list with pen and paper which involves multiplication and addition. Or something as simple as determining which number is greater for Initiative in close combat.
And what about all of that measuring we do? Measuring is also a very useful ability and helps reinforce the number line and order of numbers. It also helps with greater than/less than judging because if you are looking for the number 24 and are at the number 15, you need to know that 24 is bigger so you look in the right direction.
As they say, practice makes perfect. And whether you know it or not, every time you crack open a codex and read some fluff or army rules, you are practicing reading. I have a friend who claims that getting into 40k lore as a child helped improve his reading (he had been lagging behind in school). He became so drawn in by the stories that he accidentally practiced reading any chance he got by devouring fluff. And thanks to accidental learning, our brain will accidentally pick up new things just by being exposed to them. It will help improve your child’s vocabulary as well as help their reading comprehension and speed. Now of course, not all lore is appropriate for children and it’s the parents’ call on what their kid should be reading. But the key is to get the child hooked so that they want to keep reading, and the rest works itself out.
Everything from our army list, to wargear, to target priority are easy and fun avenues to help develop a child’s decision making skills. “Okay Little Timmy, do you think you should assault that Imperial Knight with your Grots? Or should you just run away?” If Timmy chooses to assault, maybe he needs work on his combat decisions. But that’s okay! Everybody has to start somewhere and everybody is different. The kid who starts out assaulting Knights with grots may just end up being the kid who keeps his Never-Say-Die attitude, but learns to take better-equipped units. You never know, he might even take that tenacity with him in the work force and beyond. Which also brings me to another point . . .
Children and Adults alike can learn a lot about themselves from playing games. Children can learn to be good sports, have mercy when need be, and learn from their mistakes without getting mad. When you are in “combat”, no matter how miniature and plastic it is, the choices you make are from your gut. And you can quickly learn which of those gut reactions to listen to and which to ignore with some trial and error. This can actually have positive life consequences once you learn what you have a tendency for naturally.
Not only can a child learn a lot about themselves through gaming, but they also pick up a lot of social interaction. They will learn how to deal with poor sports, tone down their lists for casual games, and crank them up for competitive ones. And what about the friendships they can make through their gaming group? I know from personal experience that your gaming-centered friendships can lead to “regular” friendships and one day you find yourself just hanging out with them just for the sake of their company.
What about all of the hobbying we do? Cutting, trimming, gluing, painting? Obviously small children shouldn’t be around a hobby knife, etc. but older children may be mature enough. And those fine motor skills are also something that is very important to development at any age. And when you factor in choosing a paint scheme for your army, and all of the practice in painting they will do, it becomes a down-right art class. This is another great way to calm your children down and have them focus on something for an extended period of time that doesn’t have a glowing screen.
What better way to get closer to your child than hobbying, painting, playing, discussing, and sharing highs and lows? Sit down and talk to them while you both hobby. Discuss the types of people they end up meeting while playing the game. Be there for a supportive shoulder when they lose and be there to cheer them on when they win. Nothing warms my heart more than seeing families gaming together, no matter what the system. D&D, Magic, Warhammer, Heroclix. You really can’t go wrong with any of them.
I know they can all be expensive hobbies, but the skills they will learn are priceless. And the time you will spend with your child is something you both will cherish. And there is no putting a price on that.
Do you guys have any suggestions for using gaming as a teaching tool?
Want to witness my slow descent into madness first-hand? Check out my blog at www.diceforthedicegod.com
top image from http://chapter-56.blogspot.com/2008/02/dice.html