Once again, a game I pulled out to play with the boys morphed into a productive learning opportunity. We had a cold and rainy day last week so I decided I’d pull out Gobbletand let the boys play a few rounds while I did a load of dishes. I thought it would be a good way to practice some logic skills. The first game lasted maybe 30 seconds. Okie dokie then…it’s time to teach some strategy not to mention patience by slowing down, thinking about your move, and paying attention to what is going on around you on the board.
The boys were not pausing at all to think about their move so I decided they would take turns playing against me. The first round I played with each of them, I talked them through how and why I was choosing my move and then talked them through the strategy of their move. The following round – again..no thinking, they’d just move, and that was that. They were more interested in gobbling me up than actually winning the game.
It wasn’t a matter of they didn’t want to play the game – on the contrary, they were eager. It was simply they weren’t putting forth any effort to think about their move. I’m ALL about effort – even if it’s an epic failure. As long as you genuinely tried, I’m genuinely happy.
I needed a new tactic. On the next round, I upped the stakes. If you beat me, you got a piece of candy. If you lost, you got two chores. We have some hefty issues regarding the boys and the inability to think through their actions. I figured this game was the gentlest and most effective way of practicing think through actions without having major consequences…as we’ve had in the past. Mind you, the chores were ridiculously simple chores: put away the shoes on the floor, empty the kitchen trash can, wipe down the kitchen table. It was just enough to give some incentive to win but not enough to be a real punishment. If I lost, I had to do two chores also. If I won, I poured another cup of coffee as my treat. Let’s just say…I had difficulty falling asleep that night. My body has not seen that much caffeine since college when I was staying up all night to write a paper. I also rewarded effort. If they lost but REALLY, REALLY tried – I’d surprise them with only one or no chores (but no candy).
The game was on! I started to see some genuine effort. One of my boys has since become exceptionally good at Gobblet. The other is struggling with slowing down, thinking, and paying attention. But…step by step is the name of the game in this family. We’ve always seen improvements with baby steps. I’ve long since abandoned the idea that great strides will happen in a single lesson.