Learning from Computer Games

Elisa Allender, in an unschoolingbasics discussion about Cartoons & Video Games, responded to the following:

Im just now jumping into this conversation. Because im still not convinced. Because some just watch tv. End. Then just play video games. Period. No tangents. No inspired learning. No pursuits, no follow up. No questions. No discussions. And all the cool stuff your kids did only makes me feel that much more frustrated.

This is in response to the above post....... how long have you been unschooling? What are the ages of your children? May I suggest that you honestly don't know what they are thinking or learning while they are doing these activities since you can't get "inside their brain"? I have a nine-year-old I tried to teach to read from age four. He hated the whole phonics thing and the BORING memorization of sounds, etc and after *three years* he was not catching on to it.

I took him to a teacher for testing two years ago and she suggested unschooling since my son had grown to absolutely hate school (I was teaching him "the wrong way" every day by making him sit at a table and memorize all these sounds and math facts, etc).

Once we started unschooling and he knew he could do whatever he wanted he went through a very long six-month phase of doing nothing but watching TV or playing Playstation 2 games. At that time the only computer games I had for him were the educational math/phonics games so he wanted nothing to do with the computer either. It was extremely hard to sit and watch him do this but I had told him that he could do whatever he wanted for awhile so I stuck to my word. He loves to be read to so at bedtime every night we would read him book after book after book.

One day we helped my brother move into an apartment and as we were setting his computer up my son happened to notice a couple of "cool-looking" games my brother had and he asked him about them. My sweet brother said he didn't like the games because he couldn't get very far on them so he told my son he could try his luck with them. Now at the time my son was seven and my brother was in his 30's! lol Anyway, my son came home and immediately started playing those games (Civilization - Call to Power, AD 1503, Crusaders were the names of them.) When I helped him load them on the computer and I saw what they were like I thought to myself, oh great, you have to read and he can't read so he is just going to get frustrated and mad and I am going to have to sit here with him and read everything to him and I really wasn't looking foward to that because those are not MY type of games I like to play.

He enjoyed those games so much and has spent hours on them. That was the breakthrough he needed. Ever since that day. . . my son has mastered those games (and taught my brother quite a few things!!) and we have gone on to buy him more games like that. This has led us to the Runescape game online which he will play for hours at a time some days and a love for anything medieval.

He has learned to read......pretty much on his own.....don't ask me how because I can't explain it, but he has! It is truly amazing!! We are all blown away at what he can read now and the enjoyment he gets out of reading.

He can play _any game_ on the computer and he and I love to compete against each other. He saw me playing Monopoly Tycoon one day and he watched me play for awhile and then he started playing and winning.......in the process he learned about money and now his favorite game to play off the computer is Monopoly!

All of these computer games have led to a love for something and he just can't get enough of that.....through books, history channel on TV, board games (Stratego, Risk), a Renaissance Festival we took him to, etc.

Another thing we did since his love and skill grew for these type of games is to introduce him to the Playstation 2 games my husband had (Medal of Honor and another type like that, can't remember the name right off). I was opposed to these games at first because of the rating (for violence and language) but my husband showed me how they are historical. Of course my son LOVED those games and he and my husband spent hours on those trying to get through all the challenges and in the process he has learned about WW1, WW2, Pearl Harbor, etc. He can tell you all kinds of things about the war and has now taken to learning more about why the wars were started, etc.

I know this is long and if you read it all the way to the end, thanks for reading.

My husband was not sold on unschooling at all and we argued about it off and on for a year. Finally this past spring I asked my husband to think about our son's learning experiences over the last year and I asked him if he thought our son had grown learning wise or if he was still at the same level that he was at this time last year. When he stopped to realize all the things ds has learned and can do (read! math facts!! handle money, tell time, figure out how to look up info on the computer or in a book when he wants to know more about something he is interested in) and the biggest thing of all is he is doing this stuff now because it is his choice and he loves to do it then my husband became completely sold out on this whole way of life and now contributes to it more by doing more with our son.



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