As a homeschooling mom, I spend a lot of time curating and compiling curriculum for my 2 boys, ages 5 and 12. I believe that it’s important to provide them with great resources that both challenge them and get them to think about the topic at hand in order to grow and explore those ideas further.
Homeschooling Has Been A Great Journey
Over the years I have used a number of different curriculums to gauge what works for each individual child and what doesn’t and the challenge has always been: “How do I provide great educational content, and still make it fun?
My 12-year-old has been homeschooling for the last 7 years and though it has come with its own challenges and changes, I would never trade it for the world. Each year brings new systems and different interests, but what is amazing is that he has remained eager to learn and is always up to discovering something new! He is an active and engaged learner and I believe that comes in part of being able to change “how” we learn when we see that something isn't working for him.
This year is my 5-year-olds first year in school and so far, he too is following in his brother's footsteps. He is actively engaged and in some ways a more independent learner than my first!
Doing a quick recap of our homeschooling resources, some of our favourite curriculums have been:
- Math U See
- Khan Academy
- Mystery Science
- Elephant Math
- Night Zookeeper
I also use a specific checklist for them to carry out their tasks for school that looks something like this (below) and for the most part I believe it helps!
Now, if you're just starting your homeschool journey and are interested in using this template, let me know and I can send you a copy! I've had a lot of people request it and I'm happy to share it with you to make life easier! ?
Screentime At Our House
That being said, my kids also spend time on screens and play video games. My oldest plays Xbox games, like FIFA 21, Brawl Stars, and Rocket League, and my youngest will sometimes play with him.
Personally, I don't let my children spend a lot of time playing video games, but they have managed to strike a balance between screentime and other activities which I am very happy about, so I actively trying to find age-appropriate, gentle video games for both my 12 and my 5-year-old.
Old-School Arcade Type Video Games
While searching, I recently, a site called Plays.org that had a great selection of what I would classify as more old- school arcade-style games that I liked. With over 100 games in their library, there are many games and interest categories to choose from. When you do a search on their site, you'll find fun, easy to play games that are not overly stimulating and at the same time offer educational value – great for this homeschooling Mama!
If you look at the image below, you'll see that there are quite a few categories to choose from.
For me, a parent that has quite a large age gap between my kids (7 years) I was happy to find that they had a good selection of games that would keep both my boys happy!
Gentle and Educational Games For Young Kids
For example, if you do a deeper dive into the various categories, you'll also see that they have a wide variety of themes and even incorporate a preschool section for kids younger than my 5-year-old. Though the sections are incredibly large, I did find that there seems to be something for everyone. If you do a search in the pre-school section, you'll find games that teach kids their shapes and even a Disney offering of Mickey and Minnie associated with Mickey's Clubhouse, but do a further search in the other categories and you'll find even more young kid-friendly games!
Like I mentioned earlier, I curate most of everything my children see and so I choose a few games I liked and thought my 5 year old would want to play – and sure enough, when I loaded the first of the games I thought he could play, just from hearing the music he came running to see what was doing!
He really enjoyed several of the games but loved the “Connect The Dots” games. He said it reminded him of the Kumon workbooks (connect the dots – counting to 100) that he does in abundance plus he had to squeal every time a new puzzle came on because he thought all the animals were too cute!
I also wanted to make a quick mention regarding the games' audio tracks. The audio of the game above (and many in the Plays.org library) is so relaxing; the game above was dominated by the sounds of the seashore, birds, and the water – it was so relaxing, it felt like you were lying on a beach, I would honestly listen to it on my phone for meditative/relaxation purposes!
That said, I thought the audio was especially important for my 5-year-old who I want to be sure is not overly stimulated while he plays on a screen.
Other games he enjoyed were the drawing ones (cute shape games and the art pads) where he could choose the shape, colour, size, and face for the various caricatures.
Tween Video Games
Now in terms of my 12 year old, obviously his interest would be slightly different but he too found games that he really enjoyed.
There were of course sports games which he really liked, but there were a myriad of educational choices for him, too!
Both he and I had a great time trying to improve our keyboarding skills as we played some of the games (shown below) trying to improve our accuracy and increasing our WPM. It was great fun, he loved trying to beat his personal best and of course, trying to beat his Mama (it didn't happen!)
He also took to the hypnotic logic puzzles like Make 7 (seen below) and really enjoyed playing these types of games. Again, the audio tracks were so relaxing.
Overall, I was really pleased that he found games that he enjoyed as I'm not a fan of overly aggressive games and first-person shooter games like Call of Duty and Fortnight.
As I said, I am very careful about what my kids do or play and I was pleasantly surprised at the various games found on Plays.org.
Not only is it nice that it is a free service but I like that there is intrinsic value in playing the games. Not only does it give them screen time which they enjoy, but because of the caliber of games, they are learning to problem-solve, many of the games are cooperative and they are learning new skills.
For example, with my 5-year-old, I found the games complimentary to what he is learning in school, like his ABC's and numbers. Interestingly enough, when done right, this is a great way of helping your kids learn, while at the same time – they don't realize they are learning. My husband likes to ask our youngest “who” taught him some particular skill, like how he learned to read for example, and gets a kick out of it when our son answers, “Nobody. I just knew.”
With my eldest, he also got great value out of playing the games and it has proven to be his choice to play (like the logic games) over console games on the Xbox.
The best form of learning is when you're having fun. And games help you think differently, help you solve problems, and help you think laterally. Those are all important skills for our children to learn in the future.
So, if you are looking for some gentle but games your children will enjoy, be sure to check out Plays.org!