Who amongst us has not grown up playing video games? While the idea of playing video games sounds fun and entertaining, did you ever imagine that these games can be used for self-directed learning?
Games are nothing if not a means of storytelling and illustrations; hence, it is not unexpected that school leaders, policy makers, early educators, and parents are now embracing the idea of gamification in preschools. A big reason behind the popularity of game-based education is that they are fairly economical to create and distribute, they’re easy to replicate, they’re scalable and they’re modifiable.
In our school days, the idea of a preschooler indulged in video games would only lead to fire and fury by not only the parents but also the teachers. But, times have changed, and how! Today, the idea of children playing video games is not just limited to an image of little children deliriously engrossed in Xbox or Play-Stations, rather there’s an educational element added to the equation.
Learning through video games is a modern day reality in many preschool classrooms. When used as an educational tool – they help in building problem-solving skills, in improving motivation, in increasing focus of the young learners, and most importantly in providing endless possibilities for significant learning experiences, however, all of this possible, if and only if, video games are used appropriately and efficiently inside the classrooms.
Let’s find out some benefits of using video game based learning in early childhood education:
- Imagine a classroom with young learners all on their individual machines trying to win a game of car race, now imagine some of them not being able to succeed in their repeated attempts to reach the finish line before the timer goes off. How would they react, in most cases, they’ll simply start the game again – the stakes here are low. In contrast, if this were a physical race a failure to reach the finish line first doesn’t get them another chance – the stakes here are high. In the video game based scenario failure is reframed, the feedback cycle is small, and efforts are deemed more important than mastery. In such an environment students, perceive failure as an opportunity, as opposed to feeling vulnerable, anxious or disheartened.
- Competition is commonplace in preschool development programs, in the form of tests, quizzes and other sports activities, with video games children start fostering competition. When early learners come together to play multiplayer video games, they inadvertently learn important life skills like – team spirit and healthy competition at a young age. Healthy competition encourages them to perform better while teaching them valuable life lessons about collaboration, setting objectives and staying calm under stress — without getting caught in disheartenment, low self-esteem and poor sportsmanship.
- Video games can teach young learners the concept of time and they can also help in honing their decision making skills. Wondering how? Well, most games are time constrained, this offers a time based challenge to children wherein they have to make split-second decisions and at the same time make it to the finish line in time. This positively affects the cognitive ability of children, while allowing them to learn the importance of finishing their work on time. In the end, you get a child with a disciplined concept of time and remarkable decision making ability.
- Another wonderful benefit of video game based learning is found in its aftereffects. Children who regularly engage in game-based learning have better reflexes than their counterparts. Basically, it has been proved time after time that video games improve multiple aspects like mental agility, critical thinking skills, self-confidence and ability to overcome challenges. There’s also an evident enhancement in the child’s cognitive skills like spatial navigation, problem-solving skills, reasoning skills, memory and awareness.
- According to research, gaming has favorable effects on young learners suffering from problems like autism. The same applies to young children with signs of depression. When these children play video games with encouraging and calming story lines, the effect of regular involvement in the games leads to improvement in their fighting spirit.
- Video games in preschools are not just a perk for the young learners, but also a blessing for the early educators. The best preschools and play school franchises with high quality preschool development programs allow teachers to evaluate their pupils on the basis of confidence, self-discipline and collaboration with their peers during gaming sessions. This makes it easier for teachers to form and convey feedback about the class performance of students and the same can be shared with the parents in parent-teacher interactions.
In recent times, technology has evolved as an important if not essential part of the teaching-learning experience. In such a scenario, integrating innovative methodologies like video game based learning can prove to be a great approach to promote self-directed learning.
As an early educator, whether you chose to add video game based learning in your core curriculum or use it only as a sporadic learning activity, making preschool curriculum enjoyable with its addition will certainly strengthen the learning experience of preschoolers.
It’s about time that we leave behind the dated misapprehensions and stereotypes about the negative effects of technology. Let the preschool development programs take inspiration from the pioneering preschool accreditation standards established by preschool accreditation agencies like QualityKG and let us reframe our beliefs and start using technology to improve learning.