What Parents and Educators Should Know About Minecraft

Minecraft After School

Images: Flickr user Kevin Jarrett

Does Minecraft rot your kid’s brain? Is she wasting her time constructing shelters, collecting resources, and exploring her Minecraft environment? Not according to many teachers who have found Minecraft to be a powerful tool for engaging kids brains. When Minecraft is used in its basic form, children are challenged to use academic skills such as geometry, reading, and scientific observation. When teachers use specially developed mods and remixes of Minecraft they can explore computer science, measurement skills, physics, farming, and virtually anything else that they want to teach. What else do parents and educators need to know about Minecraft?

Adults should recognize that Minecraft is far more than just fun for kids. There are compelling reasons to view Minecraft as a fantastic opportunity to engage children in learning. Not only is it used as a teaching tool in thousands of classrooms across the country, Minecraft is extremely immersive for the children and adults who play it. While there has been limited research on strategies for using Minecraft for teaching executive functioning, attentional, and thinking skills, teachers and parents observe planning, organizational, and time management skills as routinely applied in game play. The game is easily related to many academic subjects that also require problem-solving, creativity, social awareness skills, and cognitive flexibility skills. This makes it especially useful in reaching and teaching kids with ADHD.

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Here are a few  resources to help you become more knowledgeable about Minecraft and learning:

In Minecraft, Beyond Construction and Survival, Sean C.Duncan discusses the flexible thinking and social interactions demanded by the game.

Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design by Mizuko Ito et al describes how using Minecraft and other games of interest promotes learning.

Should Children with ADHD Play Minecraft?, a slideshow created and presented by Drs. Randy Kulman and Gary Stoner for the CHADD 2014 conference, tackles the question more and more parents are asking these days. (Hint: The answer is yes, with some limit-setting in place.)

The Benefits of Playing Video Games by Isabela Granic, Adam Lobel, and Rutger C. M. E. Engels is a great summary article on the science of learning from video games.

Is Minecraft the Ultimate Educational Tool? From the Idea Channel at PBS Digital Studios, this is a fun video about using Minecraft for learning a variety of subjects.

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