Yes, there is such a thing as game schooling. And funschooling. And unschooling.
Game schooling is exactly what you'd expect it to be like.... learning through games
Before I really dove into the idea of game schooling-- I thought to myself " how much can you REALLY learn from CLUE or Monopoly?"
Here's exactly what I've found out over the years:
When playing Clue, we are learning:
Puzzle solving (I know this, and I know this.... but I don't know this... what do I need to figure this out.... similar to algebra, perhaps?)
Strategic planning by thinking ahead (if I pay attention to which room, weapon and person my mom is asking me to reveal, I can eliminate a few choices).
Deductive reasoning ( I can assume this to be true and this to be true, so this is certainly a realistic solution to the problem).
But my favorite part about it all is when something pops up that I was not expecting.
The pen Jon was using was not working properly. He started to take it apart and look at the moving pieces inside. Some might say that he is not focused on the task in front of him, but I would say that he's nurturing his ***future engineering***mind.
What other games do we use in our schooling?
Trade. Build. Settle. That is the premise of Catan. You build road and cities. You trade goods. You barter. You must survive.
It's all about strategy here.
This one was a gift for us one Christmas.
This is another game about strategy. It's about diplomacy, conflict and conquest.
Capture territories. Form alliances. Eliminate players. Add an extension pack and go on secret missions.
This was a random purchase to add to our collection for school.
Ticket to Ride
This was one of my first purchases when I started looking into game schooling. It is easily one of our favorites to play.
Geography, obviously, is a huge part of this game. But strategy certainly is too. The object of the game is to build the most and/or longest railway systems throughout North America. The best part is you can add extension packs to include other continents as well!
We can never forget about chess. This is Jon's favorite game, hands down. My brain hurts by the end of a game, but my heart is singing..
There's so much you can do with your children to help them learn through the use of games. Some families solely use games to educate their children (there's 100s if not 1000s of options out there) and others use games to supplement their curriculum.
Either way, gaming is part of our unschooling journey.
Natural Register of Historical Places.
I like to start my search there.
When we get the "bug" and want to hit the open road, we like to search for cool and interesting places. We live pretty far out from the nearest town so we expect a minimum of an hour drive.
Not this time.
I learned that just 20 minutes from where we live, in Jennings, LA. there are actually TWO libraries. Say what!!
You read that right! One is the parish library and the other is the state library. I didn't know that was a thing until I did some research.
Believe it or not I don't always go to a library to read.
Sometimes, I just want to look at old books and let my imagination run! Can you imagine what was going on during the time these books were published?
Of course, when I walked into the Andrew Carnegie Library in Jennings, my lover- of- old- books self had found her unicorn!
National Geographic. Census Index. Cemetery Logs. There was SO MUCH history here!
I really can't describe how OLD these books were, but a picture should help:
These are books you DO NOT TOUCH.
I would LOVE to devour the information inside, but I rather just admire their beauty from afar.
Beautiful is an understatement.
I am sure if you have wondered to the "Unschooling Fun" section of my website, you are waiting for the " that is genius" moment where I tell you I planned this trip for days, strategically set out what we were going to learn about and had a grand presentation to give after.
But, my dear friends, that would be a lie!
This day was spontaneous. Yep. We hopped in the car and decided to stop. Nothing preplanned. Nothing set in stone. We were after history!
So the long awaited question... what did we learn on this trip to the Andrew Carnegie Library?
To appreciate the beauty of books.
To appreciate the beauty of history.
To appreciate the preservation of history.
To appreciate the preservation of books.
To enjoy using the libraries resources.
To enjoy the spontaneous trip.
To enjoy the time together.
To enjoy learning.
To appreciate. This is a skill even some adults struggle with, so why not expose children to the idea of just appreciating something at it's face value and taking the long way home :)
Wanderlust runs through my veins. I am apart of many travel groups. I read about many destinations, experiences both good and bad, and look for wonderful advice from those who travel much more frequently than we do.
A common question is....how do you afford to travel often? The answers vary from ---- I live frugally to I prioritize traveling.
For us, we are not rich. We are not able to jump on a plane every year (yet) and fly across the world, but we do PRIORITIZE traveling. I believe travel to be a relative term.
Here are my thoughts: there is NO HARM in exploring your home state. Your home town. Heck, even within your parish (county) you can find things to learn about.
My littlest one is now 3. Anytime there is a mention of going some place (even to the Dollar Store lol) she screams " I am coming!" My 12 year old is tired of the go go go from all the years of dragging him along, but he does dream of far off places such as Washington D.C. & N.Y.C and Paris. We have plans to visit DC/NYC in 2022 and Paris/London in (hopefully) 2024. Both have learned to love an adventure.
Sure, my oldest rolls his eyes and at times asks to stay home instead, but as a momma who believes in the power of travel, all I want is for him to appreciate the world around us. And I truly believe he does and will continue to as he grows into a young adult.
Travel DOES NOT have to be an expensive plane ticket, gourmet food and week long excursions. An adventure can be a tank of gas, sandwiches and an excited heart. Read that again.
That is what we did back in 2019 when we headed down to Galveston, TX. My son was just into chess playing and I was itching to get on the open road. I was researching life-sized chess boards and came across the one located on the Strand in Galveston. I researched other fun things to do and found out about LaKing's Confectionery and decided to make a day trip out of it.
We headed out around 7am and made it to Galveston around 10AM. It was drizzling on the way, but luckily we didn't get too wet on our trip.
Our fist stop was the Strand. We knew we wanted to visit LaKing's, check out the chess board and walk down the Strand (first picture is of Finn and Jon walking down the Strand).
We parked along the road and headed to the life-sized chess board. Within a few minutes, the rain started and the pieces were picked up. We hung around after the rain stopped hoping they would put the pieces back out, but we weren't lucky enough. This is certainly reason enough to make another trip there soon! On a sunnier day, of course.
You can see below Jon walking on the chess board. He was bummed that we couldn't play a game or two! We probably wouldn't have made it to the seawall had the pieces been out that day!
Since it was raining, we need a place to run for cover so we headed to LaKing's Confectionery. We missed the 9AM taffy pull, but we still went inside and took a look around and had ice cream to cool down too! There was tons of candy we could have devoured, but we chose the ice cream instead!
Our plan was to come back for the 1PM taffy pull, but we were enjoying the beach. We'll know to get there earlier on our next trip out!
After we had our ice cream, we decided to head to the Seawall to check out the beach and a pier I had heard about. Anytime we are exploring a new place, we love to ride through the historic district and check out the beautiful homes. So, along the way, we rode through some nice neighborhoods to see what their houses were all about. I didn't get any pictures, unfortunately. But there were some beauties.
Before heading out, I knew there was a fun pier with rides and games, but I wanted to skip that for this trip. I was trying to skimp on spending money :) . We rode further down Seawall Blvd and came across 61st Street Pier. It looked cool so we parked along the highway and headed for the pier.
When we got inside, there was a fee (duh, Brandi) so that we could actually FISH OFF THE PIER lol but since that was not our plans, we just turned around and walked along the water/rocks and enjoyed the beauty of the coast.
After spending time in the sun, Finley was exhausted. It was time to get her back home. So we decided to take the back way and hit the Galveston Island Ferry.
It was a fun experience for the little one for sure. Her brother held her so she could see over the side, she chased birds under cars and thought it was funny when the birds flew above us.
On the way back home, we stopped in Crystal Beach to potty and check out the nice camps you can rent there. It's certainly a small, quiet area.
We made it home, told daddy all about our day and had a great night's rest!
There is never going to be the perfect time to travel. You don't have to be rich to go on an adventure. If you teach your kids that LIFE IS AN ADVENTURE, they will treat every experience as an adventure.
And the question remains... how in the flippin' heck do you run a business and homeschool at the same time?
Easy. I have my children help me.
When it was just Jon and I, finishing up my bachelors degree was the goal. I had the last 18 months of school to finish with a 2 year old. That meant, when we were home in the evenings, it wasn't always play time. It was time to eat, bath, play a bit and get studying squeezed in for whatever test was coming up next.
I had to get creative to keep him occupied while I kept us fed. I had to get creative when it was time to study, too. I did have help from family, but there were still many times I was throwing a book at a 2 year old so she can "do school" with his mom so I could get enough studying in to pass the next test.
Now, he's 12 and I am running a business from home.
The same applies. I have to get creative with his schooling.
We are unschoolers. We learn through interest. If I let him solely be in control of what he learned about, it was be video gamers and right now comedians. I am sure we can find tons of information to study about the topics, but I do throw things at him that I think he **may**be interested in and see if it sparks anything. I think watching his brain in action is my favorite part of unschooling. That and learning together.
Here's an example:
I am currently working on a few trips for clients, one of them is a client traveling to Los Cabos next month. My client sent me a list of restaurants they would like to try out while visiting the area, so I figured I'd have Jon help me with some basic research to see where his mind would take him. After all, it's not something he is familiar with. So who wouldn't be curious, right?
I asked him to find out hours of operation, address, phone number and menu pricing. This is what he gave me.
Is this perfect? Absolutely not. Could he have done better? Yes.
But the goal wasn't perfection. The goal was for him to help me with my client's trip with the hopes of it leading to his curiosity to take him to a whole new area of the world.
And it worked !
He told me that some of the prices weren't easy to understand because it only said 429 and no dollar signs. I told him I bet it was in MXN (pesos). He went on to ask why the phone numbers had a +52 in front of them and some had a +1. I explained that for every country there is a country code assigned to phone numbers. The U.S. was +1, Mexico was +52. He then mentioned that the addresses were difficult to understand "so I just copied what I saw."
Now, I am sure some of you are going to say---well, this isn't "formal" schooling but the truth is-- this is a natural way of learning. The next time he sees an international denomination, address or phone number, I bet he pays close attention to it. I am more than certain I can have him research country codes and how to make calls from the US to an international country and how to make calls from the international country back home to the US. His mind will be engaged for a few hours, without a doubt. In fact, I have tons of resources saved from my business I can share with him so he can dig deeper into this.
I am here to tell you that learning doesn't have to be pretty. It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to be at a desk (he wrote all of this sitting on the arm of the couch from his phone while I was working). It doesn't have to be from a workbook and it certainly doesn't' have to be forced.
P.S. For our math lessons this week, I will have him learn to convert currency from one denomination to another because it's just what feels natural to me :)
Learning with Rubberbands
Fostering a love of learning doesn't happen over night. It happens daily. It happens by doing life together. It should happen naturally. Not forced.
There's so much pressure on younger kids to learn at such an early age. We (including myself) are programmed to see learning as sitting at a desk with a workbook pushing out busy work or reciting math facts and division problems.
The reality is that children can learn through play, life and experiences no matter the age.
Here's a wonderful example of how my little one (3 yrs old) is taught to love learning without being forced fed what she "needs to know":
I work from home. I am a dispatcher for a nation wide roadside assistance company. Not only do I dispatch, I also train new dispatchers. This mean, I can have my little one next to me while I am watching a new dispatcher's screen.
My little one found a crusty ole' rubberband on the floor (yeah, we aren't clean freaks) and was playing with it. I was trying to focus on the dispatcher and keep her entertained at the same time so I said " Oh what color is this?" and she looked at me like .... I don't know... and I don't care, mom! I want to PLAY WITH IT!
So, I let her lead and explore her curiosity.
I asked her "What does the rubberband feek like?" She said---- "It's soft."
I asked her "What does the rubberband looked like?" She said--- "It's ...hmmmm? A snake?"
I then said " Why does it look different on this end?" She said " Hmm, I don't know mommy! "
I then said, "Why don't you touch both ends to see how it feels to you?"
She said " This one is hard and this one is soft."
As any toddlers would do, she began to stretch the rubberband and I asked her if the hard part was stretchy. The minute she tried to stretch it the piece fell off the end.
I said to her "Why do you think the piece fell off?" She just stared at me. I said "Maybe it's because that piece is dry?" "Hmm... maybe mommy, I don't know?"
At that point, she was ready to play some more.... the rubberband became a band aid, handcuffs and instrument for the next 30 minutes.
That's it. She is learning to be curious. She is learning to ask questions. She is learning to use her imagination. Most importantly, she is learning to love learning.
As a homeschooling mom who found that her children thrived more when living life together instead of being stuck in a classroom 8 hours a day, I turned my love of travel and educating my kids into the perfect mix: unschooling.