What’s the big deal about games in education?
One of the things we’ve learned over the years is that the brain is like a muscle. The more it exercises, the more it can do. In fact, in this study, researchers found that playing board games twice a week increased the brain speed scores of elementary students by a staggering 27 – 32%!
Does this mean that playing games will turn your students into geniuses? Probably not, but as an educator, those numbers are tough to discount.
To make matters more interesting, two studies in the journal Cognition (one from MIT and the other from UC-Berkeley) indicate that in some situations direct teaching is actually inferior to experiential learning. Outrageous, right? It turns out that children who are playing develop a stronger sense of creativity and inquisitiveness, exactly the things we need our students to have. Here’s the Slate article all about those studies.
Play isn’t just for elementary school, either. Take a moment to watch this TED Talks presentation, where Dr. Stuart Brown does a great job of showing us that play is for all ages, that it does a lot more than just help us exercise our brains.
Those benefits often come in surprising ways. For example, here’s a research-based artiicle by Dr. Sarah Itzhaki about shyness and how playing can help a student break through into a world of self-confidence and self-esteem.
Study after study has confirmed it: play is good for everyone. From preschools all the way up through nursing homes, educators and caregivers are using play to engage the mind and fire the imagination.
The Games for Educators web site and newsletter are dedicated to supporting the use of games and toys in education. We want to help educators of all types fully engage the minds of children, and take advantage of all the benefits that play brings.