Tricks of the Gamer Dad
Whenever I talk to other parents about their children, usually at some point I talk about how I play certain games with my children, like Pokemon, or Super Smash Brothers, or Castle Crashers. What I hear back is “Oh, but video games are so bad for children but mine would play them all the time.”
I’ve got children who are getting straight A’s in school, who participate in school events - and they game. In some ways, games are <em>why</em> they’re where they are.
But that’s only because I am an evil genius. Bwahaha. Bwahahahaha! Bwahahahahahahahahaha!
OK. But really, there are things I’ve done with my children. Some of these are just general tips, others are specific things that I’ve done.
Tip #1: Pokemon at 5.
When each of my children turned 5, after years of reading to them at night so on and so forth, I give them a challenge:
If they can read ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ without a single mistake, then I’ll get them a Nintendo DS, and their own copy of Pokemon. So of course the idea of playing the cartoon they’ve been watching is OMG YAY TOTALLY GOING TO DO IT!
So over the course of a month, I’ll practice with them. Make them sound the words out. Point to words out of order so they can’t just memorize the book and regurgitate it.
Then when the day comes, and they’re able to read it without a single error, they’re so proud. And then they get Pokemon…
And realize that they have to read to play the game. Read the instructions. Read what people tell them in the game, read what happens to the Pokemon they catch, sound out the names, and on and on. So now if they’re going to play the game, they have to read. They have to think and look at the numbers to know how much power their Pokemon have. They have to use logic and strategy in understanding strengths and weaknesses.