If you walk into the modern classroom, you will be hard pressed to find one that is not equipped with at least one computer, if not more. The computer is becoming a permanent fixture in the classroom, and some schools are even giving students laptops to use for school purposes. This is not surprising considering how computer driven our society is, but many parents and grandparents are surprised when they learn that computer games are being used in the classroom.
What purpose do computer games in the classroom serve? 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. Even though some subjects can be taught exclusively on the computer, such as typing, other subjects can be practiced and reinforced by playing computer games. 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.
As with any computer use, playing computer games must be balanced with other learning. Most children would be willing to play games all day long. This, of course, is not a good way to educate 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!