Why are games good for Children?

While talking to a parent recently, they asked me what made you start Nayi Disha… Or more specifically, “Why does Nayi Disha do games? Are games an effective medium to learn?”

A lot has been said about gamification (learning through games), but one still hears more about it in professional circles, than in casual conversation.

Think about the last time you played a game. It could be Mario, Angry Birds or even a simple jigsaw puzzle. What happens when you lose the game, or are unable to solve the puzzle? You try again. More importantly, you continue to try until you get it right. There is no red-cross, and nobody is scolding or punishing you. You try again, because… you are engaged by the problem and that’s what you want to do. It’s ok to make a mistake. We learn from our mistakes. We learn what to do differently the next time.

Why is this a big deal? Among many, one reason is how failure is stigmatised all around the world to various degrees, but its particularly acute here in India. Recently, at one prominent school I saw a very interesting conversation between a child and the parent, when the child showed his parent his drawing that he had just coloured.

Here’s what happened –

Child – (points and shows his drawing to the parent)

Parent – “Oh beta. Boundary ke andar colour nahin kiya. Dekho colour bahar nikal raha hai.” (Oh son. Why did you not colour inside the boundary? See how the colour is crossing the boundary.)

Child – (Immediately pushes the sheet away from him, and says) Ok. I want to go home.

I found this conversation interesting because pointing out the mistake without acknowledging what he did well, made the child move away from his effort.

Children by their very nature love to learn new things. When we mix learning and games, we are able to allow children to let go of the fear of making mistakes. They are free to solve problems and arrive at solutions, without compromising their self-esteem or confidence. If they go wrong, its no problem… they just have to try again.

And learning becomes fun again when children (or even adults) are able to overcome the fear of failure.

Kartik,
Nayi Disha Studios

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