Parents can support learning with video games and apps, but careful selection is key to results, an SMU faculty member says.
Gary Brubaker, director of the graduate program for game development at SMU, advises cutting down the confusion by focusing on fun, skills, and learning style.
He identified criteria for finding the best options for your child:
Know the outcomes and skills that the game is teaching. “Do not settle for vague promises of ‘improves math and reading skills,’” Brubaker said. Does the game include activities to improve the child’s memory, cognitive abilities, organizational skills?
Use the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) guide. Does the learning game skew too old – or too young – for your child? Check for the ESRB rating, especially the “E” (Everyone) and “E10” (everyone age 10 and up) categories.
Find the fun. Remember: A fun game always gets harder as you go along, and games with plenty of fun have plenty of repeat-play value, Brubaker said.
Buy games that adapt to your child’s learning style. Does your student love drawing pictures or deciphering codes? Jamming to music or reading aloud? Exploring a garden or building with blocks? The ideal learning app will engage them on their level, using activities they love, Brubaker said.
Play with your kids. You can be one of your child’s best teachers. “If you can read kids’ books and watch kids’ movies, you can play kids’ games,” Brubaker said.