I have to take a deep breath whenever I hear the words “fun” and “education” combined.
Whether it’s a parent asking me to recommend a fun math curriculum, a book touting fun ways to incorporate learning, or seeing some edu-software or app saturated with cartoon characters.
I don’t go ballistic but I certainly do genuinely need the additional respiration.
You see, learning is its own reward. Finishing a long great book; conquering some difficult math skills on Khan Academy; leveling up on the piano; etc. They will all give your kids a natural rush and organic feelings of accomplishment.
So they don’t actually need a new LEGO set, an ice cream sundae, or “an hour of screen-time” to motivate them – not if the work demanded of them isn’t too easy, too difficult, or just….too stupid.
What’s wrong with a little external motivation?
Nothing….a little here and there.
The risk is, of course, that the fun injection can easily end up diluting the educational component – sort of like dipping your kids’ vegetables in chocolate!
I guess what offends me most is the mindset or assumption built into the marketing – that learning is inherently dull and therefore requires sleight-of-hand, i.e. fun.
I run a tight ship in my homeschool. (In case you couldn’t infer that!)
Although I do very much value fun. It’s just that I want my kids to have a ton of fun THROUGHOUT THEIR WHOLE LIVES.
I don’t want them to wake up at 30 years old, like I did, and realize that they aren’t happy, don’t know what they want to do with their lives, AND haven’t the means to reinvent themselves.
Remember, your homeschooled kids have already been liberated from all the school nonsense – the daily alarm clocks, the boring curricula, the toxic peer pressure, the perpetual stress of homework, papers due, pop quizzes, standardized tests, and the poverty of free time. So let’s not make things too easy for them!
Ideally you should see homeschooling as a tool to ACCELERATE your kids – not as a tool to coddle your kids with a lighter, gamified curriculum that merely recreates school-at-home.
All of this started with Sesame Street some 35 years ago. I would encourage you to read Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman for more on the historical context of how fun and entertainment infected all serious intellectual discourse. I’m sure your library has the book.
Oh, you still want games?
Okay, the BEST, outside of chess, is Bananagrams:
I do have a few more favorites – click here – but let’s not get too carried away with fun….not until your kids are older, very successful, and supporting their parents lavishly!