Children explore and learn through playing as they practice making decisions and solving problems. So while kids are having a blast during playtime, games can help foster a variety of academic skills and a love of learning.
Through new technology, interactive video games in particular present a great way for kids to learn independently. Video games like Sesame Street's "Cookie's Counting Carnival" and "Elmo's A-to-Zoo Adventure" for Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS and PCs offer opportunities for children to practice basic math and reading skills while playing with their favorite characters.
"The games are entertaining and intuitive, enabling younger kids in the family to have fun while learning at their own pace," says Samantha Ryan, senior vice president of development and production for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
When selecting video games for your child, look for the following features:
- Math and literacy skill building. Your child may be more likely to work on these skills when they are contained within a fun game.
- Games that offer a range of ways to learn. Presenting material in a variety of ways helps kids retain information and helps ensure that they stay engaged.
- Easy, intuitive play. Part of the fun of learning through a video game is that children are given opportunities to learn on their own. Therefore, the game should be easy enough for them to navigate with minimal adult assistance.
- Clear, age-appropriate directions. Games designed for younger children should include audio and visual directions to help ensure that kids are able to play with minimal frustration. Audio directions can also help children develop listening skills.
- Adaptability by skill level. Video games that offer different levels based on your child's abilities will help ensure that your child has a positive experience and offer room for growth as your child matures and becomes a more adept problem solver.
- Active game play. Games that feature physical activity promote healthy living.