I think it’s probably the most natural instinct in the world to think your child is special, gifted even.
As a parent you know your child better than anyone else, right? If we are honest, the failings they have are quickly set aside in favour of their best attributes and potential. I am certainly guilty as charged. We just want what is best for our children and there is nothing wrong with that at all!
Here is my story: 3 kids and the birth of Minecraft-ed.
I want my children to the best they can be.
I am a mum of three children. As all children are: they are all very different, in their likes, hobbies, and personalities. I have always had a keen interest in their education and wanted them to be the best they can be. I had it instilled into me at an early age that keeping doors open for opportunities was paramount. This was my goal for my children. In the early years, I went about this by throwing as many opportunities at them as my bank balance could afford in the hope that something would stick and produce a genius! In hindsight, I feel this was a little short sighted.
I was reasonably happy with their school education. Mine were the children who ALWAYS did their homework and often extra. They got through their reading books daily. They passed their SATS with flying colours and generally did me proud. As I looked around for senior school options for them, I was less impressed and more concerned. I then came across the local grammar schools and one open evening later, I knew this is what I wanted for my children. The hurdle was the entrance exam that only the top 2% of the country pass.
Mainstream school did not support me.
Their primary school refused to support any of them with this undertaking and with my boys were even unsure if they would pass. They were reluctant to give their vote of confidence, despite their good grades. I was frustrated. I believed in their abilities – why didn’t the school? I set about teaching them myself, topics that they hadn’t started yet at school. This was necessary for the entrance exam. To say that my children were less enthusiastic about this mission of mine is an understatement. The idea of extra work that none of their friends had to do was less than appealing!
Not all kids learn the same way.
It became obvious very quickly that the same blanket approach to ‘teaching’ is no good for children. What worked easily for one of my children didn’t produce the same results at all with my other children. I really wanted to know what it was that motivated them to learn and what kept their attention.
For me, (with two boys and a girl), the boys had much more difficulty applying themselves to sustained levels of concentration. They were easily distracted and would use any reason they could think of to move away from the task in hand. (I need the toilet, I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, the cat moved, I think I saw a spaceship…..you get my drift!). I also noted they had very little care for presentation. Neat handwriting was a mystery to them. However, my sons were problem solvers; quick thinking mathematicians. They liked logic, order and speed. They preferred short exercises, quick solutions. (Honestly just between us, the boys were lazy!)
My daughter, in contrast, is creative, arty and has been much more of a social being from a young age. She likes things to look nice (her presentation is beautiful!). Her imagination is wild and free flowing. Facts pass her by and do not pique her interest at all. She likes storytelling, painting, conversation and debating.
I had to get creative. For my boys, I developed structured timetables, with tick boxes, fact cards, short answer questions, multiple choice, goals and percentages. For my daughter, she had a beautiful folder with colour coded examples and sticker rewards, with factual questions slipped in discreetly between creative scenarios.
They achieved more measurable progress in those short months than they had in years, just by adapting the methodology of their learning to their strengths!
This was very much trial and error on my part but I could see that this approach was the best way to tap into their full potential. All three of my children passed the entrance exam, allowing them the best possible start to their future life. They started the next leg of their lives in fantastic schools, brighter, more confident than ever before. One very proud mother.
All children love to play
Whilst every child learns differently, all children love to play and learn through playing. I couldn’t help wondering if there was an even more creative way to reach children exactly where they are at, so that learning is something they achieve without feeling like it is such an effort, such a chore or hard work. It was this kind of thinking that led to the creation of Minecraft-ed.
Alongside the clear preference for maths, science and such like, both sons were developing life- long hobbies in the game world. Game time was the reward for sitting down and completing homework. An incentive for them that worked. It was clear that gaming was high motivation. They competed, fought and built. I was amazed when one day my eldest son (at the time 10) told me he had built a binary calculator in one of his games. Upon investigating it was not a 5 minute build! It was an incredibly complex construction that converted and calculated. I asked him why he had built it. He simply replied it was fun to build it in the game.
My daughter also games as a hobby. It was a means to meet with her friends on line and build together. She uses gaming differently to my sons. She doesn’t compete, or fight or blow things up. She creates communities, worlds and adventures with her imagination.
What is gamification?
Children love gaming. This is a fact undisputed. It retains attention and concentration effortlessly. It really is meeting the child exactly where they are already at, consolidating learning in the most engaged environment they know.
The minecraft-ed classes are structured in a way to encompass individual children’s learning styles. There is something in a Minecraft-ed class that will appeal to every child, which will allow them to learn more, faster. The gaming environment in itself takes care of children with poor concentration and restlessness. In the traditional taught part of the class we use gaming visuals to capitalise the children’s interest. We use a variety of different exercises, such as quizzes, games, gap filling and reading strategies, so that there is something to meet the needs of every child. We consolidate the learning from the classroom in the game environment where the children can apply their new found knowledge.
Children might be faced with tasks that ask them to solve a problem, decisions that they need to make based on what they have learned, or maybe building something to demonstrate their understanding.