Homeschool families know students learn best when they engage with their mate- rial instead of simply observ-
ing it. The true challenge of homeschool-
ing rests in understanding what makes
your young learners tick, and how you
can use that knowledge to get them to
buy into their own learning. In our fam-
ily, we’ve discovered a powerful tool to
help in this process: board games.
Think about what happens when you sit
down to play a game. Initially, the world
shrinks to the people around the table.
You stop worrying about homework,
projects, and whatever you need to do be-
fore tomorrow. Instead, you are focused
on the now. Also, players intentionally
choose to invest in a shared activity with
each other. Together, focusing on now
and on the other players creates memo-
ries, strengthens relationships, and opens
opportunities for all kinds of conversa-
tions. If your homeschool experience
involves struggling to get your child to
focus intently on something, a game can
be a real breakthrough.
Next, the world expands to the scope of
the game’s story. Even simple card games
create a story. “How did that decision af-
fect the rest of the game?” “Wasn’t it funny
when X happened?” “I can’t believe she
did that!” More advanced games weave
players into a robust setting complete with
moral and practical decisions. This setting
engages the players and allows them to
learn about both the setting and the peo-
ple they are experiencing it with.
Modern board games explore every-
thing from the distant past to the remote
future. Join debates at the Constitution-
al Congress, work together to save the
world from disease, or travel into the far-
thest reaches of space. If you can think of
it, odds are high there is a game waiting
to explore it. In summary, games cre-
ate fun, engaging, relationship-building,
conversation-starting opportunities for
If all this is true, why aren’t more games
mentioned in a homeschooling context?
Three common reasons explain this.
First, many homeschool families simply don’t know about modern board
Fun & Games:
Power of Play
by Patrick Lysaght
(shown with his wife Katherine)
Games allow students to employ the knowledge
they are learning in a formal curriculum in
creative, fun, and interesting ways.
Educational Toys and Games