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Growing Wthout Schooling

My 7-year-old son Jake and I have had great fun playing the game "Discover America." The point of the game is to travel through all the states, accumulating money by guessing a state capital correctly, answering a quiz question (history, geography, etc. facts) correctly, or receiving  a "Lucky" card. All players have the option to make the trip, and the player with the most money at the end wins.

Sounds like a run-of-the-mill, schoolish type of game, doesn't it? Well, we found otherwise. There are choices of how to take each turn (spin to n ame a state capital or roll dice to get a Quiz, Lucky, Sorry, or Traveler's Aid card) and choices of what attitudes and motives to have while playing. Our motives were to have fun, try to win, and see if we liked the game. At the most, I hoped for a fun time together with my son and for him to gain some familiarity with the map of the United States. I had no serious "educational" agenda, and we adjusted the rules to fit Jake's ability level. For instance, when he spun the dial that picks a state for capital-naming, we decided that his task was to find the state on the map and then read its capital. When it was my turn, I found that I knew so few capitals even though, in my memory, I did so well on those tests in school. In fact, I'm having fun trying to relearn them in the context of the game. Similarly, although the Quiz Card questions were largely over Jake's head (and very often over mine, too), we would give choices of questions and offer clues like the first letter of an answer.

I believe that since there was no educational agenda (which Jake can pick up in a minute and then be turned off), he was free to "go with" this game in whatever way interested him. One morning I found him studiously tracing the U.S. map which comes with the game. He then invented a Jeopardy-like game where there was a point-reward system for naming capitals. He's been delighted to quiz his parents and reward us or not with points!

Interestingly, the inventor of the game dedicated it to his former 10th grade teacher because "she took the time to care and show me the way."

Growing Without Schooling
Marion Webster