Forget the Olympics, the Educational Games are About to Start (page 3)
Back to school! A fearsome thought for teachers, children and parents. The start of a new academic year, new class, new school, new teaching resources. Welcome back, the educational games have just started.
If you've been anywhere near the shops over the summer you couldn't fail to notice the constant "back to school" promotions. They seem to start on the first day of the holiday ignoring the anguish of teachers, children and parents who dread the thought. Surely holidays are fun and should not be confused with the slog of learning. Fun is relaxed, enjoyable and something you look forward to. School is, however, far from being fun epitomised by adverts relating to shoes, clothing and stationery! But what if the schooling process could become filled with educational toys, games and fun? Is this possible? Surely we should be beating ourselves up with textbooks.
We look forward to something we enjoy and tend to put off something we don't. Most people enjoyed watching the Olympic Games where medal winners excelled through years of dedication. Hard work, hours of daily practice to improve performance proved the difference between
Performance is dynamically measured, results seen immediately, giving elation with an improvement, and a challenge with a setback. Determination is the key; Olympians enjoy the challenge to improve. What about school and homework? Can school be enjoyable? Could a child's performance at school be measured dynamically using modern facilities or has it to rely on textbooks, tests and end of term reports? The answer lies in the latest educational games where parents and siblings can join in. Modern homework can be set as a game replicating the work in progress in the classroom. Setting homework as maths games, English games or science games is "learning in disguise" providing an opportunity for the child to practice whilst enticing effective parental involvement.
The busy classroom of 30 leaves minimal time for the teacher to encourage practice in the classroom. Yet 75% of learning retention is achieved through practice. The International Olympic Committee can be compared with the national curriculum setting the competition ground rules and standards. Teachers are the team mangers but parents are the individual child's coach. The one to one relationship giving guidance, encouragement and participation can reap huge rewards in performance improvement.
Recent research by the National Confederation of Parents Teacher Associations discovered a massive 80% of a child's academic progress is influenced by what they do at home, and only 20% emanates from the school environment. Back with the Olympics analogy it may seem obvious that the coach has a huge influence on an individual's performance.
Teachers and the Department for Children, Schools and Families, aware of this phenomenon, are urging parents to become more active in the schooling process. This is in no way dereliction of duty but highlights a fundamental shift in the training duties a parent or PTA can now effect. Historically, helping with homework has been difficult because the teaching resources were one dimensional. Text books induce reluctance in parents. Unwilling to interfere they are concerned they would use different teaching techniques, or may appear to struggle in the subject area in front of their children. But the modern educational games, toys and puzzles used in school by the teacher are now available for use at home.
In class these educational games take the form of board games, quizzes, puzzles, bingo, toys and software - and are ideal for home use. The short burst in a class of 30 can be extended to 30 minutes at home on a one to one in fun game. This parental involvement means that the child gets the extra time to practice. Parents can assess progress dynamically rather than waiting for end of term reports, and children benefit from a coach at home to boost their performance back in school.
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