Five Tips to Homeschool Your Child with Video Games and YouTube

I think kids should go to school 12 months a year. Of course, this does not mean that kids should spend 12 months in a classroom, but rather they should be going to school at home, in museums, while playing outdoors, AND while watching YouTube videos and playing cognitively challenging video games. For many homeschooling parents, this is already the case. In my interviews with homeschooling parents, I have found that the reason many homeschool is to broaden their children’s opportunities to learn. Many homeschooled kids are already learning from screen-based curriculums, so why not expand this to using video games and the wealth of educational YouTube videos for homeschoolers. Our team at LearningWorks for Kids has developed a set of five tips for homeschool your child with video games and YouTube.

The 12-month school year is almost a necessity for homeschooled kids with learning, attention, and executive-functioning difficulties. If we were to conduct a survey of experts in child psychology and learning such as myself, I have no doubt that most would agree that kids who struggle with school should have it 12 months out of the year. My experience at LearningWorks for Kids inclines me towards making more summer or vacation learning opportunities based on play activities rather than traditional book learning. The kids I see in my clinical practice, alternative learners, would not benefit from an additional 3 months of sitting in a classroom 7 hours a day. On the other hand, they also do not benefit from 3 months of resting their brains. Kids don’t need a rest, they need a break from the confines of school. If you are not a homeschooler already, I suggest you homeschool your children this summer with video games, great websites, and YouTube to encourage their summertime learning.

Our society has long equated going to school with learning. However, there are also many fantastic opportunities for learning that occur outside of school, particularly in today’s world. The availability of information outside of school is incredible. Millions of people homeschool their children, often for a variety of safety, educational, political, religious, and reasons. Homeschooled kids generally have higher rates of college acceptances and have used online tools as part of their education. The parents of many of the homeschoolers with whom I’ve been involved made the decision to homeschool based on the wide availability of fantastic Internet-based programs for teaching. 

To help you find the best resources, our team at LW4K has compiled five tips for homeschooling children with video games and YouTube:

Check out the Khan Academy and iTunes. The availability of ways to teach children is now limitless. Teaching tools such as the Khan Academy and iTunes can match teachers in their capacity to help children in specific areas. However, these teaching tools may not be as much fun for struggling learners.  

Choose fun educational video games. While technically not video games, sites such as BrainPop and Dreambox Learning are structured like video games. Parents can access hundreds of thousands of fun and useful apps and tools for teaching kids. Some of my favorites include BrainPOP, Dreambox Learning, and ABC mouse. 

Start with YouTube Kids. Maybe even better than video games are the millions of great videos at YouTube. Kids can learn languages, construction skills, video editing, gardening techniques – the list is practically endless. While it can be challenging to find the best materials on YouTube, YouTube Kids can help with zeroing in on appropriate material in a specific content area.

Check out our recommendations for video games that practice executive functions at LearningWorks for Kids. Many engaging games such as Minecraft are practice skills such as planning, organization, flexibility, and self-control.

Play games with your kids that practice following complex directions or sign them up for LW4K LIVE programs on working memory. Games are a great chance to keep information in mind, the key to improving executive functions.

The majority of children would probably not agree with having to attend school 12 months a year (and teachers would most likely like this idea even less). Parents need to give kids a vacation from school but not from learning. This is particularly true for kids who do not enjoy reading and struggle to complete homework in a timely fashion. It is important to find ways through which they can continue to learn and challenge their brains when they are not in a classroom.  Using some of these tips to homeschool your child with video games and YouTube is a great way to make screen-based technologies a productive learning opportunity for your child.