Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Games as Tutoring Tools

Games are great ways for children to learn or practice skills. Many adults remember counting out money, matching colors, spelling words, and working on a number of skills all while playing games.

Many adults forget that games can be a great way to demonstrate new ways of approaching skills that children struggle with in a different learning environment. Recently, we had a family game night with a younger relative playing Dicecapades Board Game. This game is a combination of many familiar games. Participants have spelling, math, Pictionary, physical, and other challenges to meet in order to progress through the game. One important strategy I practiced during the game was demonstrating strategies, not telling the younger player different ways to attack problems.

For instance, one of the games required quickly adding numbers. Years ago, I learned to organize numbers in patterns of tens. I quickly moved my dice into patterns of tens and then added my totals. My husband who has no need of aids when adding also employed this strategy to demonstrate how it worked. The child who had struggled with this challenge asked us what we were doing and we helped her by explaining our strategy. Instead of forcing our method on her, we showed her an alternative to help her reach her goal. We have done this to teach other strategies for card and board games as well. I have found we have more success when we demonstrate instead of telling when we play games with the younger relatives.

If you are looking to improve math and reading skills, look at your child's games again. Try to focus on demonstrating alternate or better skills for problem solving. The goal is not to focus on forcing them to try your methods, but to give them alternatives.


  1. This sounds like so much fun, and reminds me of when mine were little. We had a lot of fun playing games together. It's a super way to interact and spend time, as well as learning new things. Kudos for spending time with your children - many parents aren't able to do so. :-)

  2. These are not my kids, but family. Extended family and friends can help kids learn as well.

  3. Bookmarkin' and watching. I've been doing some readings on educational Wii games to roll into the mix.