People love games. From the infant who squeals at peekaboo to the 80- year old DnD player to the muscle jock playing Candy Crush…we all LOVE games. When a child is young, we structure learning around games and then somewhere between first and 7th grade we start to get more and more serious about academics. Less games are played and more serious “studying” is involved.


It’s no wonder teens would rather be on social media or Fortnight than doing their history homework and god forbid their MATH worksheets. 

What Can Parents Do?

Yes, yes. I’m going to say Family Game Night here. But if that conjurs up images of a family of four playing Monopoly (with two bored-out-of-their-minds teenagers)…then think again.

What I mean is, join them in their own world. Learn Minecraft and make a castle, get their six in Fortnight and kill some zombies. Be silly, be stupid…need their help, ask for their help, ask for them to give you a lesson.

Here’s a great article from Forbes talking about the research of playing video games with your teenager.

How to switch to more Academic Games

While inside their own world, you create a bond over games that will be invaluable and you will find an opportune moment to pivot the less than healthy Spiderman game to a more cognitively challenging board or card game.

Take them with you to visit a real gaming store (yes, they stll exist everywhere). Look at comics, look at figurines, be geeky and check out the strategy board games. The really good shops usually have libraries where you can test out the games and the guys running the store can give you the best details. There will be fast coorperative play games and long strategy war games and everything inbetween. While I love a good game of Monopoly, the variety of board games available now is unbelievable.

And there’s always great card games. Start with the more engaging ones that intrigue teenagers around money. I know, I know…gambling…ARGH but pennies and nickels are fun, they just are! And if you really hate the idea of real money, at least get some good quality chips and give a lesson in how chips let you keep score.

What can Teachers Do?

Ok, so teachers already do so much…but this tip will actually give them BACK some time in the class! There are these moments as teachers when you look around the room and all your students are engaged. This leaves you FREE! Observe, wander the room, or even clean some stuff up and do some planning (unheard of right? WRONG)

While students gameplay, they are independent. The more opportunities we can set up for independence, the more they learn AND the less overworked we will feel.

There are lots of games on Teachers Pay Teachers for Middle School. Id you’d like to see one of my own, follow this link:

Cover Image for Wrapping and Slicing Playing Cards

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