It can be quite difficult to find good games that are specifically designed to teach your children something. Even if the games are designed with lessons in mind, they almost always prioritize learning over game play. Without the entertainment factor, these games are uninteresting to kids and defeat the purpose of combining learning and playing.
An excellent solution is to let your kids play fun games that naturally teach them valuable life skills. Many popular video games feature subtly inherent lessons, so we’ve created a list of great games that happen to have hidden educational value.
Pattern Recognition It’s easy to get lost in a “Match 3” game like Bejeweled 3, but while your kids are busy finding groups of different colored shapes, their brains are developing pattern recognition abilities. Starting out on these games can be a bit difficult, as the matching process is slow at first glance. However, once your kids start picking up on where to move the colored shapes, you may notice that they are getting faster and more efficient at the process. Unlike many forms of learning, pattern recognition is a skill you can watch your children develop in real-time. Progress is easily measured by how proficient your kids become at matching, which makes the fact that they are learning easily evident. The pattern recognition kids learn from games early on will help them make observations and avoid poor judgement as they continue to grow. Time Management
It’s interesting to think that a game may be able to teach your children how to better manage their time, but it is very possible. Games in the “Real-Time Strategy” genre (like StarCraft, or tower defense games) are based around the idea that players have to make quick decisions that affect the outcome of the game. By playing these games, children become more skilled at prioritizing tasks, which permeates into their lives outside of games. If a child develops the skill to micro-manage towers in a game, it becomes easier for them to micro-manage their time during the day. This in turn develops your child’s ability to prioritize, which is an important skill to learn.
Developing reaction time is often one of the first (and easiest) skills that naturally progresses while playing most video games. The majority of modern games, like racing games (and most anything using an analog stick) provide game-play that requires kids to either learn to adapt to quickly-changing environments or fail. Fortunately, modern games also have a habit of dampening that failure with newer mechanics, making sure your kids aren’t feeling punished for under-performing. This encourages kids to try again, do better, and ultimately increase their reaction time. This category is broad, and most games in today’s market are capable of improving reaction time on some level.
Physics I couldn’t make this list without adding something nerdy, so let’s explore some games that actually can teach your children physics principles. There is a genre of games available that are often referred to as “physics engines”. These games are often open-ended, sandbox-style games that give you and your kids a set of objects to play with within parameters based on real-life physics. For example, in Crayon Physics Deluxe, levels are designed on a background of parchment paper with crude crayon designs where kids can draw any type of object they imagine and watch it interact with designated objects. Also, more mainstream games such as Portal and Portal 2 explore the ideas of gravity and momentum by forcing the player to creatively solve spatial puzzles using projectile portals. Many games out there can assist your children in developing problem-solving skills, including games that aren’t even trying to teach them anything. Almost every puzzle game ever made can help hone your child’s problem-solving prowess, so there’s no need to be reserved when picking out age-appropriate games. Some of the best games ever created also happen to be particularly good at developing kids’ problem solving skills. The Professor Layton series is based entirely around solving puzzles in a cartoony London setting, while the celebrated Legend of Zelda series is well-known for including excellent puzzles within its dungeons. When kids practice the process of problem-solving, almost any decision they make in their lives will benefit from their training. This is quite possibly one of the most useful skills a child can develop, making game play an excellent method of teaching your children the skills they will need as they continue to learn and grow in the real world.