The History of Learningworks For Kids

We are pleased to be celebrating our 15th anniversary at LearningWorks for Kids. We thought that some of our new readers might be interested in our history as well as the connection between games and learning.

LearningWorks for Kids (LW4K) was inspired by scores of interviews with parents whose children have problems with attention, learning, and social/emotional skills. These youngsters have difficulty with the critical-thinking and self-regulatory skills known as executive functions. Many of these children, whom we call alternative learners, struggle with traditional methods of teaching but are able to employ executive functions such as metacognition, perseverance, and flexibility in their screen-time use. The symptoms of attention and learning issues are often not as problematic when playing video games or engaged with social media. In addition, the tendency of alternative learners to become cognitively and psychologically absorbed in digital technologies (which we call engamement) offers a stark contrast to their ability to sustain effort and attention on schoolwork or chores. This leads to our mission: to harness children’s engamement with digital technologies, transforming their ability to learn skills such as organization, planning, working memory, social thinking, and self-regulation.  

Rationale of LW4K

Research from disciplines including psychology, education, neuroscience, and gaming has been used in developing the LearningWorks for Kids model. The central role of play in learning has been articulated by Jean Piaget, Ph.D. and, David Elkind, Ph.D. Game-based learning as described by James Paul Gee, Ph.D. identified digital game characteristics such as customization, challenge, and mastery.  Research by Torkel Klingberg, Ph.D. and Elkhonon Goldberg, Ph.D. indicates that appropriate use of digital technologies can enhance executive functioning such as working memory and, in turn, neuronal connections in the brain. LearningWorks for Kids combines this research with strategies for teaching executive-functioning skills developed by psychologists Lynn Meltzer, Ph.D., Peg Dawson, Ed.D., and Richard Guare, Ph.D.to teach critical-thinking and self-regulatory skills in children.  

Our initial website

The initial LearningWorks for Kids website had two major objectives: to provide information and strategies that educate parents, kids and teachers about using digital technologies to teach executive-functioning skills and to help alternative learners (children with attention, learning, social, and emotional difficulties) who struggle with traditional learning but display a willingness to be fully engaged with digital technologies. The goal of the website was and continues to be sharing information about how digital technologies can support, practice, and develop executive functions in alternative learners. 

Our current focus: LW4K LIVE

LearningWorks LIVE (LW4K LIVE) is an online, small group, executive-function training program that uses video games and apps as teaching tools for children ages 8-15. LW4K LIVE leverages children’s engagement with and attention to popular video games and apps to improve executive functions and social-emotional learning skills. LW4K LIVE is particularly suited for students with ADHD, Learning Disabilities, and executive-functioning difficulties and can now be delivered online live, directly to homes and classrooms. 

Children who struggle with homework, organization,  time management, working memory, planning, study skills, and social-emotional learning skills will benefit from our programs. Our fun small group tutoring sessions are led by expert teachers and available after school from the convenience of a child’s home. LW4K LIVE is fundamentally designed to promote the generalization of executive-functioning skills to make game-based learning into real-world skills. We provide our LW4K LIVE services via Outschool, an online learning tool that makes it easy for parents to sign up for our classes and those provided by other teachers that may benefit their alternative learners.

 

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