How to Balance Playing and Learning for Kids?



Years ago, I had a friend from University  who had known me for many years and returned to Hong Kong from Canada. Everyone has their own family and the children are in the schooling stage. Recently, everyone got together and talked about how children can achieve a balance between “learning” and “playing.” She said: “Many parents and friends are very focused on their children’s learning but lack of playing time, which will cause problems for children’s development.” I personally believe in the concept of “learning while playing.” Some say “Play is the highest form of research!”, and “Edutainment” has also risen in popularity throughout the recent years which is a module that integrates Education and Entertainment.

Many schools are now committed to promoting educational activities which many will also include STEAM elements, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. The aim for students to observe and learn through observation, participate in solving and understanding problems, and finally researching solutions together. Especially in this era of advanced technology, most children rely heavily on “electronic pacifiers” (i.e. smartphones and tables), and they must have a device in hand at all times. Over-reliance will only affect children’s brain development, vision problems, and even social skills.

Game therapy

From time to time, I participate in birthday parties hosted by parents for my children, and I also act as a mentor-teaching children how to overcome adversity through different games. Game therapy is no longer a new thing and it’s proven that games can really have a healing effect, but you may want to use some easier methods for children and use different activities to help them at expressing their emotions, focusing on problems, coming up with a solution. Whether it is ball games, chess games, or adventure games, they can produce different effects.

This time I want to talk about how children explore their full potential through the escape games. People may have the impression must be dark and scary, but these are the previous concepts; many of them are very suitable for family entertainment now, especially in this article I will mainly talk about what I have learned and why I personally think edutainment is the way to go!

Away From Electronic Devices

The escape room game is designed for everyone involved to use cooperation, wisdom, observation and communication skills. Many escape rooms also do not allow the use of any electronic devices. Everyone must contribute during the game so there’s never a dull moment. The atmosphere and focus needed for solving puzzles can help the players completely forget about the dependence on the electronic devices.

Practice communication skills

Since electronic devices cannot be used, communication between teammates is heavily emphasized. People nowadays always use smartphones and enter simple symbols and text in apps to replace verbal communication. In escape rooms, verbal communication is essential to solving puzzles as they may require two-way communication in order to activate some gadgets inaccessible to some other players. For example teammates in the room find different clues, and they need to press buttons at the same time to proceed to the next step, but they can’t see each other so this really tests their communication and listening skills. 

Thinking Outside of the Box

“Think out of the box!” I believe you’ve heard it. In the escape room game, this type of thinking can be used pretty often. Sometimes, decorations inside the room may not just be decorations, but may have hidden secrets inside; sometimes, it’s an old English bookcase, but it’s a mechanical gadget to open the secret path; sometimes, A hanging picture may be the exit you’re looking for. In everyday life, children are often limited by rules and guidelines and fail to make full use of their outside the box thinking. Therefore, in this special environment, they can break their usual habits and trigger their hidden potential and ideas.

3Q ( IQ, EQ, AQ) Training

The escape room game design itself contains a variety of different puzzles. It stimulates the brain by throwing challenges at the players at every turn and makes them think in more clear and rational ways. The game has a time limit, so every moment counts and a little bit of pressure is added to the players, especially when you don’t know how many levels are ahead. If you want to successfully complete the game in a record time, there will be even more added pressure. Improper emotional management will only affect the game performance, so you must deal with the problems calmly. The escape game is full of adversity. You need to find clues, come up with a solution immediately, and overcome difficulties. This is quite similar to what everyone encounters in their day to day life, whether at work or school, etc and so it’s good adversity quotient training. Sometimes I feel it is necessary to give children a sense of frustration, in order to let them know how to deal with failure, manage their emotions, and reflect on the problems, because not everything in the journey of life can be smooth all the way. The escape game is a good way for them to experience victory or defeat!

Build Teamwork

Most children are self-centred, and they must have fought over toys at least once, whether it’s with their brothers, sisters, classmates or companions! However, in the escape game, there is no hierarchy, only division of labor. We must work together to solve difficulties. Many games and puzzles can’t be completed by one person. In the process, through communication, and compiling ideas, teamwork is gradually established. Furthermore, everyone can learn more about your skills, learn from each other’s strengths. More often than not, when parents see children arguing, in order to calm down the dispute, they will just be punished. The children fail to understand, feel wronged, and sometimes may even suffer psychologically. A good way to deal with these disputes is to let them have a common “enemy.” The escape room is their enemy and if they do not cooperate well, they will only be disappointed in the end.

All in all,  escape games are a good parent-child activity or a birthday party, in addition to letting children have some fun. Parents and children can participate in the escape and have a good bonding experience. On the one hand, they can observe and affirm the creativity of the children, and on the other hand, the children can see the cool side of their parents not normally seen at home!

“Children are not things to be moulded, but are people to be unfolded.” Jess Lair