Heather Sanders

Living, Loving and Learning – Wrapped In God's Grace

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April 2013

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Xbox is for fun, not learning

Posted in: Electronics, Homeschooling, Kids and Parenting

Xbox is for fun, not learning.

Kenny is not allowed to play Xbox for a week. Before you think we are anti-Xbox let me clarify that Kenny’s consequences have nothing to do with the Xbox or video games, but instead, his repeated forgetfulness, and failure to follow through on his responsibilities as a member of our family.

When Kenny logs in for a game of Minecraft, Black Ops II, or Halo 4, he mentally checks out of everything but the game. Unfortunately, even with frequent, repeated reminders, Kenny hasn’t mastered the concept of work before play. Instead, he gets on before he’s taken the dogs out, gathered trash, sorted recycling, and recently, he chose to ignore the requests of his older sisters to pause his game to fold and put away his own laundry.

I never doubted video and computer games would be part of our family culture – after all, Jeff is a long-time gamer. While in college, the first time Jeff asked me over to his apartment, his geeky roommates and friends were gathered around a computer monitor playing some rendition of Star Wars. I was not impressed. I’ve never been a gamer. I remember falling asleep on the couch, just below the thick layer of cigarette smoke that permeated the room, and what appeared to be a “Saved by the Bell” marathon playing on the television across from me.

This is why we send our kids to college, right?

I digress.

It has been two looooooong days since Kenny was grounded from Xbox. On Day 1, he was an emotional roller coaster. Day 2 was wrought with fits of anger. We are now on Day 3, and he’s become my best friend – following me from room to room, speaking every thought normally shared with his online gaming friends.

Today, as I sorted through various boxes of educational products I’ve been asked to review, I asked Kenny if he thought he would be interested in trying any Xbox educational games.

After rattling off some mighty strong opinions regarding why Xbox should be used only for fun, never for learning, Meredith joined the conversation, fully agreeing with her brother.

Listening to their opinions taught me a lot about the value they put on how they spend their free time.

MEREDITH: “Making Xbox educational would ruin it. After kids are done with their schoolwork they want to be able to sit, play Xbox, and have fun. We won’t want to play with it if we are forced to play some kind of learning game instead of meeting-up with our friends to play Minecraft or whatever.”

KENNY: “School isn’t a drag for me. It’s school. School can be fun, but it isn’t always. Xbox is always fun. When I’ve finished my school I don’t want to do more of it on the Xbox because playing Xbox is getting away from school.”

MEREDITH: “That’s what I mean. I don’t hate or love school. I just want to get it done and continue on.”

One thing I’ve noticed about many homeschooling families is a tendency to want to turn every single moment into a personal teaching moment. The truth is that learning is constant, even when our hands aren’t guiding it.

Yes, even when playing video games.

Jeff and Kenny playing Black Ops II

Kenny is jonesin’ to gain back his gaming time with his Daddy and his friends.

Lorne, Jeff and Kenny killing bad guys.

After all, he’s been “killing bad guys” with his Daddy for years now.

Only 4 more days.  

He can handle it, though I’m not sure if I can.

And? If you have a Xbox educational game you’re thinking of shipping our way, be warned – my kids will donate it to charity.

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