If you’ve ever wondered if your children are learning anything when they’re playing Minecraft, have no fears. Minecraft is one of the best video games children can play. While I would suggest limiting children to one or at most two hours a day of playing Minecraft, it’s a great opportunity for learning problem-solving, academic, and social-emotional skills. Beyond these psychological skills, Minecraft is also being used in many schools to teach subjects such as mathematics, geography, history, and physics. Our interest at LearningWorks for Kids is in using Minecraft to teach executive-functioning and social-emotional learning skills. The evidence is clear: children can learn a lot playing Minecraft.
Part of our rationale is simple: kids learn from their play. Minecraft is an avenue for another form of play, in this case, digital play. Part of what makes play such a great opportunity for learning is that kids are engaged and attentive and have fun while they’re playing. If every lecture children heard or book they read had the same characteristics, learning would be easier and more efficient.
Wouldn’t it be great if the skills your kids used in Minecraft (such as planning, organization, working memory, and self-control) would be easily applied to real-world problems? Unfortunately, that is not the case. Making game-based learning (GBL) into real-world skills (RWS) requires generalization, or transfer of learning. While there is some transfer of learning between games and the real world, it is limited in nature. Psychologists and educators have studied the complex nature of generalization. It is the key to making math learned in the classroom into real-world applications in engineering or therapists helping children learn techniques for managing anger to avoiding conflict with their teachers. The good news is that there is something you can do in conjunction with our team at LearningWorks for Kids (LW4K) to make GBL into RWS.
Parents who want to make Minecraft into a better learning experience can learn a bit more about the game, play with their kids, observe them playing, or ask questions about their game play. Use our LearningWorks for Kids model of Detect, Reflect, and Connect to help children transfer what they do in the game to the real world. By helping children “detect” (identify the skills they are using in the game), “reflect” (think about how those skills help them in Minecraft), and “connect” (apply those skills in their daily activities), you will amplify the positive effects of Minecraft play. We encourage you to use our Minecraft playbook and game guides that assist in understanding what your kids are actually doing when they play the game and how, after game play, you can help them to connect game-based skills to real-world skills.
You could also have your kids join our LW4K LIVE instructors in Minecraft classes. They are great fun and easy to join. Children play along with our team of instructors as well as peers who also love Minecraft. Each class has a project focused on specific executive-functioning or social-emotional learning skills. Kids learn about the skill they will use in the game and reflect on how that skill helps them in the game and the real world. They also have practice opportunities to try out that skill in their daily lives. At the same time, our expert instructors help them get better at playing Minecraft, learning new Minecraft techniques and tricks, and interacting with other same-age kids who also love Minecraft. Because children are so engaged and attentive to Minecraft, it is a fertile opportunity for learning, and we build on that by utilizing evidence-based, strategic teaching principles and our LearningWorks for Kids tools to promote real-world learning.
Enroll your children who love Minecraft in a LW4K LIVE class. Our instructors will help them make game play into an engaging learning experience. Our team of instructors ensures that children play safely with their peers and help you to know that time spent playing Minecraft is a productive and fun experience for them. Watch this video to learn more, check out our other LW4K LIVE classes, or try a class by sitting in with your children. We’d appreciate your feedback about our classes so we can make them better for your kids.