Forget the Flashcards and Drill and Kill (interest) with The Best On-Line Games to Boost Your Childs Skills

The technological advances of online game-based practice for those dreaded facts that must be memorized is one of the greatest boons to parent-child relationships. These games can be found through easily accessible websites that provide information of which facts and skills are offered for practice. You can use these websites to find out which are free of charge and even which are best suited to your child’s learning style.

Video Games Will Not Replace Classroom Learning Experiences

The biggest challenge in school is the over-packed curriculum with emphasis on rote memorization and prep for high-stakes testing. The availability of well-researched information to guide parents in your use of game-structured learning tools will support your children's acquisition of requisite foundational rote facts and procedures.

Online learning practice games that are the most enjoyable and successful provides ongoing assessment of your children’s mastery and continuously update the level of challenge to suit the player. The best games also provide your child with frequent corrective feedback, opportunities for self-corrections, extension of skills to problem solving, and goal-progress monitoring and feedback for your child and you to see ongoing progress.

These best programs can achieve what is not feasible in whole-class instruction or drill because students’ levels of mastery vary greatly. It is humanly impossible to give each student individualized, ongoing formative and corrective assessment, level of mastery adjustment, and goal-progress feedback for multiplication tables, spelling, science terms or historical facts mandated for memorization.

With those multiplication tables, metric conversions, state capitals, historical names and dates, science word definitions, vocabulary, and spelling words more quickly and durably memorized with online games, school can become a place of more in depth discovery learning.

This way of learning is so successful because, just as with video games played for pleasure and not linked to specific school skill practice, the progressive challenge and feedback works with the brain’s intrinsic reward system to motivate perseverance and memory.

This is the response from the brain's own dopamine-reward system.

Perseverance, despite errors and setbacks, is sustained and accurate memory networks constructed through the frequent corrective feedback that increases success and mastery. This corrective feedback and further practice in the areas of difficulty actually change the brain’s wiring. The corrected practice activates durable acquisition of information into long-term memory due to the brain’s neuroplasticity.


is the brain’s self-construction of stronger memory connections when the memory is activated. Practice does make permanent because each time a memory is activated – practiced, used, the electricity flowing through the neural circuit stimulates the laying down of more connecting dendrites, layers of insulating myelin around axons, and more synapses connecting axons and dendrites.

Children in the game-learning, neuro-chemical state of achievement-driven pleasure work at their own individualized levels and paces to learn the critical foundational factual and procedural information. As this most engaged and motivated state persists, the awareness that their effort can bring goal access promotes the reversal from fixed to growth mindsets.

When your children master the memorization of critical foundational knowledge through the best online learning games and programs, progressing at their individualized achievement levels, they will become more joyful and successful learners. They will experience the fixed-mindset-changing power of becoming frequently aware of their incremental progress, with the result of an understanding that effort leads to achievement.

 Where to Go to Find the Skill Game Your Child Needs for      Each Set of Data that Must be Memorized

 Commonsense Media,

an independent nonprofit media evaluation site, reviews a variety of media. The link to the online learning tool evaluations is

The website indicates that they rely on developmental criteria from authorities to determine website content apprpriateness and learnings ratings. The various areas of rankings are extensive, characteristics of the ranks are described, and the Education Ratings & Review Program Advisors have backgrounds suited for the evaluations including: a Sesame Street strategy director and university professors of digital media and other developmental, cognitive, or psychological fields.

The site does provide information on cost as part of the descriptions, but I’d like to see the site let the user have the option of going right to the resources that are free instead of having to read each one to find that information.

High points of this website are extensive ways of browsing by subject, skills (thinking and reasoning, tech skills, self-direction), genres (blogging, educational, creating), topics (dinosaurs, sports, cars and trucks), and popularity with kids. Additional categories they include that need more fleshing for validity of ranking include the criteria for “editors picks” and basis used by committees selecting “award winners”.

One of the categories of high value is age appropriateness: “For each title, we indicate the age for which a title is either appropriate or most relevant.” The age appropriate rating is supported by a link to “What's going on at each age group”. Here you’ll find informative developmental background information including descriptions of the characteristics representative of the age group in areas of cognitive development, social and emotional development, physical development, and technological/digital savviness. These are accompanied by examples that provide guidance in what to expect and what is needed in these developmental stages.

They also have lists of specific content categories with information about why they rate something for an age group such as: positive messages, ease of play, violence, privacy and safety, and others.

Additionally, for apps, video games, and websites, they have separate area where they rate the learning potential of a product in terms of its degree of engagement, approach to learning, feedback qualities, and availability of support or extensions. An example that demonstrates the extensive description of website qualities and of the multiple criteria assessed is: MrNussbaum

Subjects and Skills

For subjects, the categories are inclusive and give specific examples within each category such as, Language & Reading: reading, writing, listening, and speaking in English or other languages.

My favorite description category is that of “Skills: key skills that kids need to think, live, work -- and succeed -- in the world of tomorrow.” These are what I’ve frequently written about as the “executive functions” in my other blogs. The best skillsets described in the rankings are those most closely aligned with the executive functions including:

• Thinking & reasoning: Logic, strategy, problem-solving, thinking critically and analytically

Creativity: Developing novel solutions, making new creations, innovation

• Self-direction: Motivation, taking initiative, effort, personal growth, learning how to learn

• Emotional development: Self-awareness, handling stress, developing resilience, empathy, perspective-taking

• Communication: Convey messages effectively using multiple forms of expression

Collaboration: Teamwork, respecting other viewpoints, cooperation, meeting challenges together

• Responsibility & ethics: Integrity, respect, embracing differences, learning from consequences

• Evaluation and application of media and technology: evaluating media, using and applying social media and technology

Other Websites That Suggest Learning Games… Without as Much Information but Worth Checking

EdSurge Product Reviews is a work in progress that currently includes EdSurge staff reviews of only 30 of the over 100-plus products listed. The site provides search categories including: game-based learning, subject matter, and standards, if they were free or charged for use (and most of theirs did charge).

ClassroomWindow describes its mission, “to create transparency so that our teachers are equipped with the tools they need – and deserve – to be successful…. to share feedback on the quality of instructional materials.” Their evaluations were not from professional consultants, but rather were feedback from teachers who choose to respond to surveys or wrote in opinions of personal experiences with online programs.

More Enjoyment of School

When rote memorization and drill are not as necessary during class time, teachers can guide students into more discovery and project-based learning that enrich their concept understanding. With increasing opportunities in school to apply knowledge to new applications, children thrive in these blended learning systems. Time in school will be a more valued experience as children apply learning to solving problems and transferring knowledge to areas that are authentic and personally relevant.

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