During my time as a teacher, I was always encouraged to get creative and think out of the box to make a lesson or subject engaging. For any subject, games were the best way to generate excitement and engagement from children. Furthermore, games can involve children at class, group or individual level, meaning they can be used at various points in a lesson or at home, played with an adult, a friend or sibling.
There is a place for direct teacher instruction and more formal learning in the classroom or at home, for such things as writing a story or doing written maths calculations. However, where possible it is important to inject a bit of practical fun. Children are always going to love games as they are innately motivated to play.
Additionally, there are other benefits of play-based learning. When playing collaboratively or in a turn taking game, children develop skills in cooperation, learn about fairness, develop positive peer relationships, learn about persistence and learn how to deal appropriately with disappointment when they don’t win.
Games can be played in many ways. There are outdoor games, indoor games, board games and computer games. Whether we agree with it or not, computers and tablets are here to stay and children naturally gravitate towards them. We have created a platform where digital games and phonics come together to help support children’s phonics learning. But it is not just digital games we offer. We also offer fun practical offline phonics games that children can play with their friends, family and educators.
One of the subjects that I loved teaching was phonics. It was incredibly satisfying to see a child progress to the point where they were equipped with the technical knowledge and skills to be able to figure out an unfamiliar word and to develop confidence and fluency in their reading. I passionately believe that synthetic phonics is one of the best ways to teach children how to read. I have seen the evidence first hand throughout an academic year. If you equip children with the skills to break down words into their phonemic elements (individual sounds) and to recognize the letters or combinations of letters that make these sounds, children have the best chance of decoding an unfamiliar word in print. Teaching children how to read by learning lists and lists of words by rote is not going to help them when they come across a word that is not on that list. Sure, there are the tricky words that don’t follow the rules and cannot be decoded, and these words just need to be learnt, but there are games you can play to make learning these words more fun.