Concentrate, concentrate..


One of the things that stood out on Fifi’s school report was she has an excellent capacity for concentrating. When she puts her mind to it, she has near tunnel vision until what she wants to achieve has been achieved. This is a laudable skill and one I wish I had, as the pile of half finished projects and stuff that’s been 90% completed but hasn’t quite made it all the way to completion shows.

The boy’s levels of concentration have improved this last year too, as he’s found out about the things that really interest him. His motivations are probably more akin to mine though; he’ll do something because he wants to and because he finds it interesting, whilst Fifi will do it because it’s there to be done.

Currently this is reflecting itself in video-gaming endeavours. Many people will look down their noses at kids playing games, completely ignoring the fact that it’s a hell of a lot better for them that sitting vapidly in front of the telly. Gaming promotes hand to eye coordination, problem solving, cooperation and emotional development, among other things. Don’t believe me? Google it and you’ll find plenty of reports, including the American Psychological Association’s report, The Benefits of Playing Video Games.

When I took Fifi to the dentist for her first filling the other week, I distracted her by installing her favourite Android game on my phone. It’s called Subway Surfer and is one of those running/dodging games. I watched her play it for a bit and score 50,000 or so points. When she asked me to have a go, I failed (3 times) to get over 2,000 points. I was terrible and it was a real eye opener. I’ve suspected I’m not getting any better at twitch games but this was a sad confirmation.

At home both the older two kids are quite into Skylanders at the moment, helped by the latest version, Swap Force, being on special offer at Amazon. Twenty quid got us the game, a new portal and three figures (in case you didn’t realise some genius at Activision realised you could combine collectable action figures at £7-£10 a pop with a video game by allowing the player to place the action figures on a USB connected “portal” that puts the figure in game. There are over 50 figures to collect in Swap Force…)

We’ve harnessed this willingness to concentrate on playing games by subscribing the kids to Reading Eggs. We originally got offered a review code but subsequently renewed our subscription when it expired. It works better for Fifi as she’s easier (cheaper) to reward than the boy but gamification of learning is definitely the way forward for out of school activity as far as I’m concerned and it’s something that is increasingly being written about by people like Ian Livingstone for starters.

I wish I had the levels of concentration that our kids have but as it stands…