Learning Through Play

“Mom, does Swords and Potions count as economics?” That was the first question my 11-yr old asked me this morning. It made me grin for a lot of reasons.

First, I knew what the kid was asking, and the way he asked it meant he knew how to navigate my schedule. He wanted to play a video game as part of his schooling today.

Second, it showed that he’d already thought through his pitch. He didn’t just say, “Can I play my game?” He knew the answer would be “after school.” Instead, he’d thought through how to get me interested in the idea. Frame the game itself as a tool of learning, and he knew it would be hard for me to resist.

Now, I am a relaxed homeschooler, but we do have a specific set of subjects to study and some goals to meet by the end of the year. I do, however, have one “floater” day each week when we play board games, do an art project, and play some critical thinking games. It was pretty obvious from the question that today would be our floater.

So I gave the kid a chance to defend his choice. “Tell me why you think the game counts as economics,” I said.

He then launched in on a long report on the basic mechanics of the game, the different types of tradesmen and craftsmen you could start with, the way you had to choose to use your time creating things or learning things, and the choices you had to make when people came to buy your products. Sell for profit. If you can’t sell for profit, make sure you’re not losing too much.

I wish I’d had his report on video, because it was a great overview of beginning economics. And of course, I was totally sold on the idea of letting him play (as long as he did the other things we had planned, like play Ticket to Ride and play with superabsorbent polymers aka Orbeez).

Thrilled that he’d won, he sat down at his computer.

And started playing Sokobond. (That one’s a series of logic puzzles involving molecular structures.)

It’s been a pretty good day.

How was your homeschool day today?



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