First Day – Video Games and Role Play

My son, 9 and a half returned from  the weekend at his dad’s this morning.  The first thing he did after a polite dose of weekend description, and a half hour greeting, play and breakfast with the boys upstairs, was play a video game.  I let me him loose on it, knowing he’d be eager to play at his own speed, rhythm, but after an hour or so, I encouraged him to get off so that I could use the home computer.  He’s now dressing up and role-playing, likely based on the game….here’s my question, is this learning, and if yes, in what ways?  Here are a few questions I asked my son and his typed responses.

–  Can you describe what you’re doing right now and why you like it?    

me and my friends  always used to play ARMY, guys  with are ARMY, costumes and          our ARMY, guns and grapplehooks  and  boms.   butt we stopped doing it so today i was dressing up and inventing new costumes because i want to start doing  it again.

– Why do you like the video game you were just playing and how did it inspire your dress      up play?

      i really don’t  know why i like this  video game its just really fun , the video game is called tf2 or team fortress two and this video game did not inspire my dressing up at all except the fact that they are both related to  modern warfare.

– How do you feel about the strike?  Are you going to miss school?  Why or why not?

i do not miss school at all because my friends are not in school either.

Ok, that was a fairly painless and simple task.  The question still, is this learning?  I chose some basic questions based on what my son was presently engaged in, I let him answer them when he was ready, and basically put no pressure on him at all.  He’s not very keen on writing, that’s why I chose two topics that he is interested in: gaming and costume / role play.

I am pleasantly surprised.  First of all, he accepted my task willingly, he applied himself, asked for quiet, and requested a few spelling tips.  He spent about 20 minutes doing this, which felt like a lot to me.   I know getting him to do hand-writing in class is like pulling teeth.  It’s both a physical and emotional staring for him:  his hands hurt and he can never think of stuff to write.  I think he finds hand writing laborious and slow, and so loses patience.  Because he jumped right in today, I have chosen neither to correct his mistakes  nor to discuss his content with him right away.  I will engage him in a feed back discussion tomorrow, if it seems he’d like that.  What my aim here is to bring out his love of expression in the written form, and to not lose him, as his school writing often does int he drudgery!  My boy loves to talk, he loves to tell stories, and reviews of films, he expresses his opinions in volumes and torrents, but has not yet caught the bug of writing it all down.

As a language teacher, I am trained to look at spelling, punctuation, syntax, and content of course, but what is intriguing me and pleasing me most in my son’s answers above his wealth of expression.  You can clearly see which two questions engaged him more.  Also, he has used a couple of lovely complex sentences and phrases to express himself very clearly.   While there are a few mistakes in punctuation and spelling, I can see that D has used comas and periods, a creative use of capital letters to emphasize, and was engaged in spelling. Overall, what is revealed by this exercise is that he does have something to say, and he says it fairly well.  Few of these techniques have been taught to him directly, rather he’s developed his expression from lots of discussion at home and school, and a lot of reading and encounters with complex ideas.

Did he write about topics he cared about?

Will he return to this forum again to do more writing?

Did he enjoy this or at least find it satisfying?

Can I track his progress and engage in an expressive exchange with my son in this way?

My guess is yes to all of these, and so for me the answer to the question, is he learning? is YES.

Does your child struggle with literacy skills?  Would you like to see her/him writing more?  What ideas have you tried to engage your child/ren in writing?  Have they worked?   Does your child prefer other forms of self-expression: talking, making videos, music and so on?  Can these be viewed as literacy?  Does your child love reading, but not writing?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Tune in tomorrow, for another day in Strike Days Adventures in Home learning.



6 thoughts on “First Day – Video Games and Role Play

  1. sounds like a great day. My son’s learning day has also been a lot around media and video gaming.. learning code while playing a game, learning how to construct interactive course material too. I’m happy to read your leaving the editing for the day, at least.. I find that when son has something to say writing/editing slows it right down to a halt. If he wants to create stories, i offer to type.. let it out son.. and i’ll type it foryou! Writing lessons can be on a different topic/day. Seperating the two make for each being more fluid we find! look forward to tomorrow’s post… perhaps we’ll start one too!


    • Thanks Leah. I love to hear about your son’s learning day too. I’m about to launch into a deeper understanding of engaging my son, and partner’s sons in a variety of ways of learning through gaming: mods, code, minecraftedu and so in. Also, paying attention to how our kids learn, and using that observation to support them can be so rewarding. Thanks for your comment. Start a blog!!!


  2. I’m always so inspired by your ability to support and encourage Daniel to follow his interests and passions. Obviously that’s where the learning happens. You are such a gifted mentor. Such thoughtful ruminations.


      • Hey Belinda!

        After trying various creative ways to get my reluctant writer to write, I resorted to good old fashioned dictation. He chooses a poem (usually funny poems or poems about a topic he likes – sports, space). He reads it. We look up any words he doesn’t know, talk about any unfamiliar punctuation. Then I read it out to him. When he’s unsure about how to spell a word I help. It usually doesn’t take more than 20 min. He’s told me that he likes it and is very proud of his exercise book full of his writing. He was just comparing from a year ago and was remarking on the difference.

        Elias’ stumbling block was having to think about what to write as well as how to write it. This way he can just focus on the how.

        With Mateo I do the same. But we’ll just write one word or a small sentence and then he’ll draw a picture or we’ll draw one together.

        I do intend to incorporate some creative writing exercises this year…


      • Hi Louise, thank you much for sharing this! I love hearing how other families do things. Honouring each child’s particular needs and ways of approaching a subject or skill is what flexible schooling is all about. It’s definitely harder to do in the regular school setting with large classes. I love the idea of dictation, choosing topics that appeal to your son, and separating the the what from the how. Another way to expand this is to have your child dictate to you, while you write. this one focuses on the what: say telling a tour or expression an opinion.
        Thanks again Louise! i would love to hang some time, b the way! 🙂


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