Every parent knows that children adore computer games.  However, parents also know how most games are violent and do little more for their kids than entertain and distract them.  On top of that, most games have no educational component at all.  For this reason, many parents decide that all video games are bad and they make sure their children have little access to them.

The truth is more varied.  Not all video games are soaked in violence and raw titillation.  In fact, there are more educational games on the market now than ever before.  Publishers of children’s books are even getting into the act, by designing popular educational games based on their favorite characters and storylines.  So don’t give up on videogames.  Children really do enjoy educational and problem-solving games once they are introduced to them.

The trick is to do a little research into games that kids like without force-feeding them too much information or putting too much pressure on their success.  That is exactly what this article addresses: how to ride that fine line between enhancing a child’s education with video games and still respecting a child’s desire to play and have fun, from preschool to grade school.

Preschool Video Games

Many new games are designed with preschoolers and even toddlers.  These games are mostly pattern recognition games that involve a lot of color, animals, and shapes.  Don’t worry about learning the alphabet or how to count through the computer; the most effective games are not about recall but familiarity.

When shopping for games at this age level, keep an eye out for simple and pleasant games rather than ones that emphasize memorization.  These games also build hand-eye coordination because preschoolers use the mouse to interact with the game.

Grade school video games

Once school begins, video games can help key concepts sink in at home.  One effective trick to keeping your gradeschooler’s interest is to find educational games that have your child’s favorite cartoon character.  Many games like this exist, so you will not have to look too hard.

Also, two player games can really be a great idea, especially if you have two or more children so they can compete with each other is a fun way.  When friendly competition is ongoing, your children will not even notice how much they are learning.

In particular, grade school video games can really be helpful if your child is having difficult with reading or mathematics.  Many games combine these skills with a fun problem-solving theme so players are inspired to get better at math or phonetics.

One warning: try not to put too much pressure on your child with educational video games.  Once it stops being fun and light-hearted, the tactic ceases being useful and your child’s resistance will grow.  Then, suddenly, they are doing homework again.

So keep the schedule flexible and only “let” your children play computer games in moderation.  Half an hour a day is a good benchmark. This little bit of reverse psychology will be effective as long as you keep your cool and let them be in control about their own learning.

In fact, when children guide what they want to learn about, they will always learn more, whine less, and convince their other siblings that success can come from passionate interest.  If only adults in the corporate job market could remember that bit of advice, we would be living in a different kind of world.