Kids who play video games do better as adults

So much of the discussion of school comes down to video games. Especially for boys. And here’s why: in most cases, if you tell boys they can spend their time doing whatever they want, and they can learn whatever is interesting to them, they will learn a lot about video games.

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What is the point of parenting if you don’t get to force your own agenda? We start doing this early, by picking a mate. I picked smart, good looking, and Jewish. I didn’t pick good social skills. Believe me, I would have, if I had understood their importance at the time. But one result of not having social skills is you don’t know why anyone else needs them, either. Read more

It’s fall on the farm, which means the stack of wood is high enough to get us through the whole winter. My husband brings back chopped wood from our forest, and before he stacks it neatly into the pile, the kids build a fort. Or a kitten cage. Or a jumping pile for them and the dogs. Read more

I write a ton about all the things that surprise me when my kids have unlimited screen time. I’ve been surprised that they learned to type, that they learned to spell, and they learned to make movies.

Today I’m surprised that they learned about politics.

We were driving in the car to the butcher and my husband said to me, “I saw you are promoting the Republicans on your blog. Are you voting for Romney?”

“What?” Read more

I think my son is a writer. Not the one who is the cellist. Writing is too solitary for him and the audience is too far removed. He’s a performer. But the other son, he is a writer with a knack for non-fiction. He writes a journal every night, and he’s as obsessive as I was about mine. Read more

I get a lot of emails from people who want me to link to their stuff. You’d be surprised how much of it I click on. Just to see. I am always scared I’ll miss something good. I often get emails from this place that specializes in making graphic representations of stuff. The company is great at knowing what people want to read about. They recently sent me one about video game addiction, which I care about because in our house we have unlimited video games. Read more

What it’s like to have no limits on video games

Here’s the update on my grand video game experiment: Unlimited video games has been great. If there is nothing my kids are supposed to be doing—feeding goats, practicing violin, taking a skateboard lesson—then they can play video games. I have not put limits on how much they play or what they play. I have even been very liberal about making purchases that they kids needed to play what they want. Here are some examples of what happened: Read more

This is a picture of my perfect homeschool moment: We are in New York City, waiting for The Lion King to begin. My sons have never been to a Broadway show. They are mesmerized by the grandeur of the theater, and I am giddy with anticipation of seeing their faces light up when the show starts. This is the most exciting kind of “educational moment.”

But the truth is, most of our homeschooling involves no grandeur, no lesson plans, and tons of video games. This is not to say we don’t do cool stuff. We do pottery and skateboarding and swimming, and well, you’ve heard the list before. It’s a dream-come-true childhood, really, all the fun stuff they do. But there’s a lot of time in between Broadway shows and private horseback lessons, and almost all that down-time is filled with video games. Read more

Map, by Jasper Johns

One of the biggest gripes about US students is that they have no sense of geography.

I have a six-year-old who knows every state by it’s shape, so I thought I’d tell you how he learned it: From video games.

First, he was in the car one day searching for a new app on my iPhone. He went to top ten downloads for kids, and found one about states. He didn’t really want to learn about states, but he was sick of playing Angry Birds and Battle Bears and he couldn’t find anything else. Read more

After doing a lot of investigating about video games and their effect on kids, I realized that limiting kids playing video games has a much more deleterious impact on kids than letting them play video games unfettered by parent oversight. Here’s why:

1. Game time is about respect.
When you tell kids they can’t do what they like, you tell them they have poor judgment. The whole point of child-directed learning is to tell kids that they have a good sense of what is interesting to them and they should respect that in themselves.

I noticed that when people ask me why we don’t teach subjects in our homeschooling, I’d say, “I trust my kids to figure out what they want to learn, and I’ll help them learn it. Passion isn’t divided into school subjects.”

Then invariably one of my kids would yell out, “So why can’t we play video games?!?!?!?”

And the adult would laugh, but I would think, “Yeah. It’s a good question.” Read more