Should You Let Your Kids Play these Educational Games?
The Internet has never been a great resource for our kid’s learning potential. There are so many options for educational games, YouTube channels, or entertaining programming made just for kids. However, because the Internet is so vast and changes so quickly, some parents are wary of allowing their young children access to the Internet without direct supervision.
Today, we’re here to bring you a roundup of online educational games that can really help your child’s learning and development.
Are There Benefits to Game-Based Learning?
Teachers and educators are now believing what players of The Oregon Trail and Age of Empires have known for years — there are real, tangible benefits to game-based learning.
Game-based learning can refer to a multitude of different games, ranging from video games to table-top board games. Educators can use this teaching method as a way to teach important concepts, then help their students understand them fully by asking them to apply the concepts to a relevant problem that needs to be solved. Educators often use game-based learning in a classroom setting to teach anything from math to history to social skills.
In addition to giving their students a chance to apply their knowledge right away, game-based learning also helps kids improve their hand-eye coordination. If it’s a computer game, it helps to keep them on pace with new developments in technology, which is a key component of most jobs today. Plus, many teachers also find that these learning games help keep kids engaged, as it requires them to use their brain in new ways.
What is a Healthy Screen Time Limit?
As a parent, it’s really tempting to encourage your child to explore the possibilities of game-based learning at home. Many kids would gladly spend hours in front of the TV or computer if left unsupervised.
Many children’s health organizations have attempted to make age-based guidelines for healthy screen time, but it’s gotten more complicated as screens have become multipurpose devices that can be used for a variety of activities. New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggest that one hour of screen time or less is ideal for kids that are between the ages of two and five. For kids that are between six and 12, no more than one to two hours a day is recommended. For teens that are between 13 and 18, around two hours a day is considered ideal.
However, the AAP emphasizes that it’s difficult to make this number work for every family. Families should balance between screen time, outdoor play, reading, and other school work in a way that works for their needs.
5 Free Online Educational Games
1. Sesame Street
The Sesame Street website is packed with fun learning games that are perfect for younger children. Recommended for kids aged three to four and up, it’s a fun and safe place for kids to play games that will help them learn concepts like letters, colors, and animal sounds. Additionally, parents can cue up a playlist of videos and walk away knowing that their kid will be safe and entertained.
Although parents can help their kids navigate the site, even kids that are pre-reading age will have no problems clicking around. Plus, the PlaySafe feature ensures that kids who are left unattended won’t be able to click away from the site.
Starfall is a great place for kids aged four to nine to work on a variety of reading, language arts, and math skills in a fun and engaging environment.
Once you land on the homepage, you’ll be given the choice of clicking through to Pre-K and Kindergarten content or to the games designed for kids in Grades 1 to 3. Once they’re online, kids can practice their letter sounds and word recognition or play reading games.
While there’s a ton of free content, parents have the choice to upgrade to a $35 annual membership which gives their kids access to a larger library of content and activities.
3. Cool Math
Cool Math is a website with a lot of free content that focuses on teaching math to kids. It’s designed for kids who already love math, but the enthusiasm used to present the concepts makes it ideal even for kids who are struggling in this area.
It’s designed for kids who are at least 13 years old. However, their sister site Cool Math Games is full of fun games that help teach children strategy, logic, and other important skills, and it’s designed for kids aged three to 12.
Each site is really easy to navigate, but younger kids may require some parental assistance to get started.
4. National Geographic Kids
There are so many different activities on the National Geographic Kids website that it’s hard to classify it into just one category. There are lots of resources on geography, animals, nature, and science topics. Plus, older kids can explore live animal cams, watch educational videos, and even do online science experiments. For younger kids, there’s a special section of the site called National Geographic Little Kids which is designed for ages four to eight.
The content is all free, but parents should be aware that there are lots of promos and ads on the site.
5. Disney Jr.
The Disney and Disney Jr. sites are full of fun activities for kids of all ages. There are lots of movie clips, fun mini-games, coloring activities, and interactive content. However, it’s important to note that there are lots of advertisements — mostly for Disney, although there are some outside ads present.
While they play, kids can earn points by doing activities, then “buy” things on the site using their points. An interactive chat that requires trading a code offline allows kids the excitement of using an online chat program while still being completely safe.
Game-based learning can give children a huge leg up in terms of their development and education. The first step is to search for the games that will help build the skills your child needs, whether its problem solving or a specific subject.
There are tons of games out there that will suit you and your child’s needs.