Can Math Skills and Educational Games Coexist?

Parents, Teachers Still Have Questions About the Use of Games in the Classroom

Studies have shown that the use of educational games can help improve a child’s ability to learn and retain information, but many parents and teachers still aren’t convinced.

When you think about it, it’s understandable, considering that there are all kinds of educational software programs and toys out there with no concrete research supporting their claims.  But with the recent explosion of online games, there has been a clear winner that combines the fun of playing a game, together with teaching real mathematical concepts that students understand and can apply.  It’s called intelligent adaptive learning – and here’s what it can do for your child or students.

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Benefits of Instruction that Conforms to Student Needs
In the past, teachers felt hurried to rush through the curriculum in accordance with state and nationwide educational goals and standards.  That meant that not every student got the kind of individualized attention and instruction they may have needed.  Although no game can take the place of an enthusiastic teacher or an involved parent, the application of intelligent adaptive learning lets students take greater control of their learning experience.

At its core, this type of learning process adapts to the students’ level of proficiency in the subject.  For example, they’re not just answering basic math questions about adding and subtracting fractions – but learning how fractional values “break down” from whole numbers into pieces – and how those pieces relate to each other.

From here, a fourth grader can easily deduce that 2/4 is the same as 1/2 is the same as 3/6 and so on.  By learning skills that they can apply to overall problem solving, students develop a greater excitement in using what they’ve learned to solve even more challenging problems.  Intelligent adaptive learning platforms make that possible.

What to Look For When Choosing the Right Kind of Math Game
You’ll want to look for educational math products that are less heavy on the “game” aspect, but still rewarding enough to keep students interested.  In addition, the best types of adaptive games build on what students learn through progressive exercises that keep them engaged and moving forward.

Parents and teachers should be able to consistently stay informed via a report of the child’s progress – including where they struggled and where they excelled.  Perhaps most importantly, you’ll want to know that this actual program suite is being used in schools and if it has won any prestigious educational awards, such as the Parent’s Choice Gold Award for top rated educational toys and games, or the EDDIE, an award for outstanding educational software.

Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Where Can You Find Adaptive Learning Games?
The right educational game can make a huge difference in a child’s love of learning, not to mention their mathematical ability.  Ideally, you’ll want to try before you buy, so look for intelligent adaptive learning games that include a demo or trial, and are well-suited for your child’s grade and level of proficiency.

Above all, the curriculum included in the educational program should conform to overall local and nationwide goals, and should ask students to show their work, rather than clicking on a multiple-choice answer and hoping for the best. This further encourages them to prove that they understand the concepts they’re learning.

By keeping these points in mind, you’ll be able to find the right kind of math educational software for your child or classroom that gives them the lifelong skills they need to succeed and enjoy math with a new-found enthusiasm  – and isn’t that kind of excitement worth it?

Online Math Games

 

Helpful Videos:

Katie Salen on Learning with Games

What is Game Based Learning

Photo Credit:

Online Math Games

 

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