A learning game should teach. It should promote intellectual, emotional or physical development. It should teach a child about a particular subject or build a skill. Furthermore, a game's learning value can often be increased by the amount of interaction it provides, by how it's used, and whether or not an adult is involved in the activity.
Today, and more than ever before, games are designed with the child's learning development in mind. As parents and educators grow more sensitive to the real or perceived developmental needs of children, more game manufacturers make and market them learning games for this purpose. This only makes good sense.
But what about taking regular games and challenging yourself to use them in creative ways with your children that will educate or teach them something worth retaining? And what about keeping involved in the game to make sure that its learning value emerges in the process? How so? Use them to build concentration, listening, strategy and thinking skills. If you're a teacher, use them in your classroom as teaching aids or group activities.
Not another game concept! Yes, but a different kind of game concept. Simple. Uncomplicated. A little bit of effort and creativity is required. You take the learning value the game presents, and bring more learning value to it. Your child is worth the effort!
Many make the argument that all games have learning value. This may be true, but the degree to which they teach varies greatly. Too broad a definition of "learning" might include learning about mere the "rules of the game," but few people would honestly describe this objective as a "learning game." If they did, it would be a big stretch to agree with them. So not every game is necessarily a learning opportunity. It all depends. On intention, design and use.