As Grandparents, we are in the enviable position of being able to spend time with our Grandchildren doing nice, enjoyable things like playing games. We can leave the ‘parenting’ stuff to their parents!
My Grandsons were at their most interesting when they were sucking up knowledge like a sponge. Asking question after question, who, why, what, when, and although it drove me bonkers, I enjoyed combining fun times, with a touch of education too.
As soon as they were old enough, car journeys were always spent spotting specific colours and animals, then counting cars and singing songs, and of course, good old I-Spy, always a winner, and always good for lots of laughs when the youngest ones couldn’t spell and chose completely the wrong initial for the thing they had ‘spied’.
For the older ones it was always very competitive and usually accompanied by lots of groans when the object was, shall we say, a little bit debatable.
When my Grandsons got older and were able to grasp the concept of board games, I spent time teaching them the good old-fashioned favourites that have stood the test of time, such as Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, and Guess Who.
Naturally, back in the day, we played them on a cardboard ‘board’ that folded in half and came out of a box, along with all the necessary bits and bobs, like dice and brightly coloured counters.
But now you can play these games online with your children or Grandchildren, or, they can play by themselves. Obviously, children always prefer to have company and to play their games with someone, rather than alone. But the option is there.
I think we automatically assume that anything that children are viewing on their handheld devices such as iPhones, or iPads is not going to be very educational, and indeed, many people feel that it’s lazy parenting to simply let their children get so absorbed in their technology.
But that isn’t always the case; online games for children can be entertaining AND educational at the same time.
As well as classic board games, and classics like chess and draughts, there are now a lot of educational online games available that can really help children with their maths, algebra, and geometry.
There are also a host of word games to help with spelling and reading, the difficulty levels range from pre-school to harder levels such as crosswords, and even multilingual word search!
If a child is struggling a bit with their lessons, it’s so much easier to persuade them to play a few educational online games, than it is to sit and study books for hours on end around the kitchen table.
Whilst this shouldn’t be used as the only form of a teaching tool, it certainly can be seen as a valuable form of support, and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.
I’m really pleased that such progress has been made that enables children to enjoy their screen time, but also to learn at the same time as playing.
And at least with online Snakes and Ladders, there’s no risk of losing the dice, and that must be a good thing!