The Gameschool Co-Op and the Importance of Community

The Gameschool Co-Op and the Importance of Community

June 7, 2021 0 By gameschoolcoop

Ryan of Gameschool Adventures talks about just what The Gameschool Co-Op is,  the importance of the label ‘gameschooling’, and how that label helps builds community.


The Gameschool Co-Op and the Importance of Community

by Ryan Sanders

 

The idea of teaching through play isn’t something new. It’s been around longer than any of us reading this, and yet the term ‘gameschooling” is a new way to express this philosophy. Gameschooling is using board games to teach or reinforce skills in children – either in our own family or in students we are teaching.

Over the last couple of years, I have been putting a spotlight on gameschooling, it’s not uncommon to come across people who tell you they’ve been doing this for many years and didn’t realize there was a term for it. In this case, I think having a label (‘gameschooling’) is important, it allows people to find others that are doing the same thing, where they once thought they were alone or did not know how to find others with the same philosophy of learning through play. It also allows them to become part of a community – to find where they feel most comfortable in the homeschool, board game, or teaching community. Clearly, gameschooling is a niche, and in the case of some of these communities, it’s a niche within a niche. Yet, community is important, and it goes beyond finding a place where you feel like you belong at this moment in your life. Community in terms of gameschooling can be a support group, help with brainstorming, or show you new ways to reach those you want to teach with learning through play.  It can help you retain your passion or even rekindle it, and yes, even to the detriment of your pocketbook, help you learn about games you didn’t know about. Through it, it can help you find new free resources, like our initiative, Gameschool Summer here on The Gameschool Co-Op. However, I suppose the question I should answer is:  just what is The Gameschool Co-Op?

 

 

The idea of, if you are not finding the community you need, then build one – led to the creation, or at least the evolution of The Gameschool Co-Op. The original intention was to bring together, under one umbrella, a group of content creators and organizations that have this same belief of teaching through play, specifically in this case tabletop (board, card, dice, tabletop RPG’s) games or who focus on board games geared at families. Each of us would keep our autonomy in what we are doing, but this was a way to amplify our voices, hopefully into a much louder voice declaring that board games can be more than fun, but educational, and to others that board games don’t just have to be educational, but fun. However, it was clear even within days of creating the Co-Op, that it was evolving into something much deeper than that. It became much more, a place where we could build each other up and help each other out. When you find other like-minded passionate people, it is easy to finally feel like you belong.  It became a community before the week’s end. Like any community, we all have different experiences – some are religious, others not at all, some homeschool (and unschool), while others send their kids to public or private school. We have a teacher, a psychologist, a number of stay-at-home parents, and a board game cafe owner. Some are from North America, while others are from Africa or Asia. However, despite these differences, we all come together around board games. The guiding focus is gameschooling and to encourage others to sit around the table with their families, having fun, and making memories.

To be part of a community is also to get to know those within the community, so I thought I take a moment to introduce you to just a fraction of us that are in The Gameschool Co-Op:

 

  • I will start with myself, Ryan (Adventures in Gameschooling),  co-founder of The Gameschool Co-Op. I’m a stay-at-home homeschooling dad of 5 (now 4 as one has graduated). I’ve been in the board game hobby since 2004, and love to hear and learn the stories behind the board games. I love games that take 45 minutes or less of all types, but especially puzzle, abstract strategy, and roll and write games. I believe just about any game can reinforce skills that everyone needs to learn or practice, even if it’s just soft skills like having correct attitudes about winning or losing, being in a social situation, or flexibility in your plans. 

 

  • Autumn (Schooling Meeples), is the co-founder of The Gameschool Co-Op.  Even though she works full time, Autumn has found that actively gameschooing her two children has become a way not only to help them to learn about the world through play, but it also has amazing bonding moments.  Autumn is a fan of engine-building games and puzzle games. She is known for her ‘frankengames’, which is adapting a game to meet the needs of the child, even if that means adding other game pieces and making a totally new game. 

 

  • Danielle (Board Game Babies), who is the architect behind Gameschool Summer, helps run The Gameschool Co-Op’s Instagram account.  She is a full-time mom of 4, and a part-time grant writer for a non-profit that provides school supplies to kids in need. She is passionate about using games to educate her children, and reinforce what they are learning in school! Her mission is to encourage learning and fun through tabletop games, and works to get more games into low-income schools and foster homes! She loves pretty much all types of games, but is always especially taken in by a really good theme!

 

  • Brian (Brains on Games), lover of dexterity and medium-weight board games, is by day a psychologist who works with children and families and by night a YouTube Board Game Reviewer. He started his channel to encourage families to build their relationships with their children through play together. He looks at gameschooling as a way for teachers to build strong relationships with their students as well, and then through those relationships, they can make an impact with their teaching. 

 

  • Anna (Titans Play), is a planetary scientist that lives out in the mountains of Japan. She loves any game that poses some kind of challenge in the gameplay, though even more so if it has a strong theme and great gameplay. She holds to an unschool philosophy when it comes to her three children, and loves to gameschool them because it makes learning a playful and an organic process. Anna also helps run our Facebook group, The Gameschool School Co-Op Community

 

  • Kristen (family.boardgaming) is an Instagrammer, unschooling (child interest led learning) mom who got into board games herself, after gameschooling her kids first and discovering modern board games. She loves abstract strategy games and anything designed by Uwe Rosenberg or Michael Kiesling. Kristen believes in supporting her children in the things they are interested in, this includes bringing in games with the same themes. 

 

This is just a fraction of the 25 content creators and organizations that are a part of The Gameschool Co-Op. We didn’t even get to the family that makes recording board game videos a complete family affair (Kidsplaining), or the professionally trained opera singer who does game review videos with his two little girls (Little Big Thumbs), or Bassey (Lyndem Edutainment) who owns an educational games cafe in Africa, and also takes those games into school to teach the kids learning through play. There are so many stories, and hopefully, you will get to know all these creators over time, as they write their own blog posts and interact with you in various ways on social media. They are all amazing people. 

 

 

However, The Gameschool Co-Op community doesn’t stop at who is listed as a Co-Op member on our site, we want to continue to build and grow the community outwards, and if you are reading this it’s probably because you either have a curiosity of what it means to use board games to reinforce skills, or you are already doing it, and if that is the case we love for you to be part of our community, to find a place where we hope you feel like you belong. You read a brief look at some of the stories above, but there are so many more out there, including yours. We would love to hear your story and to have you as a part of our growing community.  You can do this by joining us on our Facebook Group or our Discord channel, which are great places to interact not only with the content creators but just gameschoolers and gaming families in general.  If you have Instagram, we love to see what your playing at #gameschoolcoop. We also do monthly themes, where we encourage you to post pictures of games, books, and resources that go along with that theme at #gameschoolcoopthemes. Also, currently, we are doing #GameschoolSummer. All of these are ways to start getting involved with the Gameschool community. As a closing note, even if you don’t gameschool with your children every day, or do it just once a week, or just one every few weeks, it doesn’t make you any less part of the gameschooling community. So come join us, and help us build this community. 

 

 

About the Author

Ryan Sanders is co-founder of The Gameschool Co-Op, as well as, the guy behind Gameschool Adventures. A homeschooling father of five children (two of which are being gameschooled), Ryan’s expertise is informed by almost two decades of experience as a stay-at-home father and from running The Inquisitive Meeple where he performed over 300 written and recorded interviews within the board game industry. Ryan loves games that take 45 minutes or less of all types, but especially puzzle, abstract strategy, and roll and write games. You can find Ryan on Twitter @inquiry_meeple and on Instagram @gameschooladventures