Computers are here to stay. They are in nearly every classroom and nearly every grade school child is already comfortable using one. Computers bring cutting edge technology and current information to students. Their contribution can be extended to include entertaining learning in the form of computer games.
Why are computer games being used in the classroom? Are they simply there to fill time in place of board games or outdoor playing, or do they serve an educational purpose? While games are often used to fill those times when students need something entertaining to do, they do serve a very important purpose.
Children enjoy using the computer. In fact, long before most kids have thought about school they have been on a computer. Video games, both computerized and on the television, are also extremely popular with children. Children will play computer games, so why not use them to reinforce educational material while they play?
Computer games in the classroom do not replace the teacher’s role. They are used for practice and drill in most situations. While some subjects, such as typing, are taught almost entirely using computer software, the computer is used in other subjects for practice. Take spelling as an example. When students need to practice their spelling words, a simple computer game like hangman could be used to help them practice in a fun, relaxed manner.
Educational software can be used in the home as well as the school. You know that your kids love to play on the computer. Imagine giving them a game to play that is fun while at the same time works to strengthen their math skills. Both you and your children’s teacher will approve of that type of screen time!
Educational computer games can also help strengthen the thinking skills of students. Games that ask students to solve mysteries are a great way to develop critical thinking skills in a fun, supportive way. These types of games are the ones that kids can play and learn without realizing that they are learning something!
When using computer games in the classroom, it is important to monitor what your students are doing. For example, you may find that a student always plays the basic math game that he knows he can win. He doesn’t really need to practice in spelling, so you might encourage him to embark on a history mystery game instead. Whenever possible, computer games should be used to work on skills that a student needs to strengthen.
Like all things in education, computer games require a balanced approach. Most children would be willing to play games all day long. Of course, this isn’t a good way to teach students. On the other hand, never allowing a student to play on the computer could be harming him. He will be missing out on valuable practice time and a fun way to approach learning. The balance should allow students to play, while at the same time providing traditional instruction throughout the school day.
So the next time you walk into your child’s school and see her on the computer, don’t worry. She is being entertained, challenged and learning at the same time! Computer games play a vital role in a well-balanced classroom, so take some time to thank your teacher for allowing your kids some time to play!