Unschooling Mommas

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"Children do not need to learn to be better, told what to do or shown how. If they are given access to enough of the world, they will see clearly enough what things are truly important to themselves and to others, and they will make for themselves a better path into that world than anyone else could make for them." John Holt

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               Learning Without Video Game Limits

Not only do we consider ourselves unschoolers, we consider ourselves radical unschoolers. What does that mean? That means that we use the unschooling philosophy in all parts of our children's lives not just their academics. We allow our children to set their own limits on things that most families struggle with like food, bedtimes, and screentimes. I believe that children, with a little guidance, can learn to live within healthy and balanced limits on their own without parents imposing their wills upon them.

I  have found that alot of parents struggle with the concept of screen time in general. While most parents wouldn't mind if their children spent 3 hours reading or hovering over math problems those same parents freak out at the concept of a child spending 3 hours online playing games or on a video game system. Then, there is the question of what game is being played. If the child is playing something the parent deems educational, like Reading Eggs then it becomes ok but if it is something like Modern Warfare it is now a complete waste of time.  I challenge you, dear parent to examine your own lives. Is what you spend your time doing always educational? Do you spend time posting silly things on Facebook or playing Candy Crush when you need a little down time? How would you feel if your husband or some other adult decided for you that your time would be better spent reading or cleaning house or something he/she condeemed more constructive and not a waste of time. Would you feel like your rights had been encroached upon. Or what if someone decided that what you enjoyed doing wasn't up to their educational standards, would you be willing to change without hesitation so that you could meet their opinions of what educational was?

Ok, so learning without limits does not just mean time limits but educational limits as well. Here are some of the games that my children are into playing right now and some of the learning that has taken place with each.

Minecraft- Ok, currently all 3 of my kids are hooked on this game! My 14 yo son is often on his ipod playing this before his eyes are even adjusted from waking up! Basically in Minecraft you use cubes to create and survive in an imaginary world. Think of it as a whole world built with legos that can be taken apart and put back together. It can be played as one player or with multiple players online. Here are some of the things my kids have learned from the game: working together as a team, creativity, estimations: you have to cut down x number of trees to get x number of planks, working with 3D shapes using volume and area as they build, role playing and using their imagination. They have also discussed survival scenarios with me and different ways a person could find food or take shelter to survive. Since Minecraft is so big right now there are tons of resources available onlin and my children have spent a fair amount of time reading articles on Minecraft and looking up and watching videos on You Tube.

Guitar Hero: This game is played by using a guitar styled controller to play along to well known songs. Players need to get the correct notes and timings of the song using the notes on the scree. Guitar Hero levels advance as the game progresses. It can be played solo or against other players.  The game has introduced my 15 yo son music appreciation as he has been exposed to various types of music. It also got him interested in wanting to learn to play the guitar for himself. While learning to play the guitar I have often times seen him go back to Guitar Hero and use the rhythimic detail in the songs to learn to play the songs for himself. So, my son has learned the love of music and an interest in playing the instrument for himself from a game many would have "a waste of time" from the beginning.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 2: (Yes this game does have violence so you will have to use your own judgements on what your family allows) Players assume the role of various characters changing perspectives throughout the story. The characters are special force opperatives conducting black operations behind enemy lines. You can play on multiplayer online teams where you download special maps and compete to complete a mission like capturing the enemies flag. My son has made many friends using the online feature, he has learned team work, map reading skills, and has developed an interest in weapons used by the millitary, spinning off an interest in wars, including the Cold War which is one of the settings in the game.

So, as you can see most any game that holds a child's interest has the ability to teach regardless of wether or not it is deemed educational. The most important thing for parents to do is take the time to play the game with your child or watch them play, talk to them about the game, share their victories as they beat a hard level, and sit back and watch as the games branch out into other areas of interest in the child's life wether that be picking up a new instrument or discussing battle strategies used in the millitary.

Go HERE to see a great collection of articles and links on the many benefits of video games. 

Want to learn more on not limiting screen times?

 Sandra Dodd has some great article with many links on the many benefits of video games, you can find it HERE.