We are a family of gamers! I am currently the DM & my husband-to-be & our two daughters aged 9 & 7 are the players. We've been playing as a family for the last couple of months. It's been something that my future-husband has played on & off since he was a kid himself & he introduced it to me when we got togther. I think I can safely say we are now all completely hooked on it! We have a fantastic time playing D&D together at the weekends. It's what you would honestly call good quality time together.
I've definitely began to notice though, a real change in my girls behaviour - for the better! They converse more, with us, with their peers & with other members of the family. There's been an improvement in both of their school work & their attidude to learning has improved also. This got me thinking.
Now I've done a couple of parenting courses over the years, one of which being the Incredible Years parenting course, another being S.E.A.L. One key thing that ran through both of these courses & others alike, is the importance of play with your children. Learning through playtime has been proven time & time again as one of the most effective ways to educate children on a whole number of levels. Social skills are learnt through simple roleplay (tea parties with their dolls & teddy bears) Basic maths skills, spacial awareness & construction skills are learnt through playing with Lego & the such-like. Creativity & expression through arts & crafts are shown in a simple crayon drawing from a young child, & their amazing natural unlimited imagination is sufficiently fed through all of these 'fun' activaties! Kids are learning without even realising it!
The thing is, these are all very well & good for younger children, babies, toddlers & pre-school kids. But what about when they get a bit older? You hear it criticised so much in the media these days how children spend far too much time stuck in front of video-games & watching the T.V, not feeding their imaginations & allowing their minds & creativity to grow & breathe. The problem is, there's so much around them of this nature, you can't hold them back from it for very long. But what is it that draws these children to these video games - roleplay! To an extent - the chance to act as another character, one thing kids love to do! Like when kids would chase each other round playing 'cowboys & Indians' or something!
So where does D&D come into this? Well, think about it, it answers everything! Their minds crave being able to use their imagination & they thrive on letting that run free. That's the core of D&D! Plus all the other aspects make so much sense too, they learn really important social skills, in the same way they would as a toddler doing a tea-party for their toys but on a much higher level. They're interacting with the other players, making important decisions that could shape the entire adventure. They have to think about what's morally right - or wrong - for their character & the influence they have on the other characters. Of course their maths skills & basic mental arithematic are being tested everytime they roll the dice - keeping that part of the brain constantly engaged (no different to Dr Kawashima's Brain Training on the Nintendo DS). They also have to think strategically & carefully. Planning ahead, thinking ahead, not making any irrational decisions. Very important qualities to have in adult life, but at the same time being faced with unexpected situations where they HAVE to think on their feet. Make a decision & stick with it. Facing the consequences if it fails - or reaping the rewards if it's a success. There are no re-rolls in D&D, as there are no re-rolls in life!
Of course one of the biggest things I have noticed personally with my family - one of the biggest impacts it's made with us all since we've been doing this together, is the amazing quality family time being spent together! How many families fall in to that old rut of all coming home from work & school, & each going their seperate ways & doing their seperate things. The kids go on the computer/xbox/ps3 - or whatever, the parents watch the t.v, read the paper/magazine/laptop etc. No-one really talks - not properley. How many families all sit round the table together? Most families end up even eating separately because of work schedules & time not allowing them the luxury of regular family mealtimes. It's sad facts, but unfortunately with statisically longer working hours for parents it's true.
Kids crave time - & I mean undivided quality time - with their parents. FACT. It's the biggest thing that gives a child security & stability in life. Knowing they have that can give a child amazing strength. It's one of the core things that will really bond a family, creating trust & security for a lifetime. What better way to do this than with something the whole family can enjoy!
Again, this is where D&D comes in again. It's something that not only appeals to ages ranging from like 7 through to 97 (& beyond if health permitts)! But it's FUN for all the family! It's completely interactive, nothing like your regular type of board game. It's ever-changing - you're never going to tire of it. It's undivided quality time, no t.v, no computers, just yourselves! It's perfect!
This day in age, as parents we're often told about the importance of quality time & playtime with your children, & so many of us can find that difficult & become stuck for idea's as their children grow - I know I did. But I think this answers all my questions & has brought a real valuable addition to our family life that's made a difference on us all. Us as much (if not more) than the kids. I love my family & I love being with them, & this time we spend playing D&D is precious & will stick with us all as amazing family time for all our lives. Hopefully continued on through our childrens children & so on.
So there you go, my thoughts on family D&D! Hope you enjoyed it, & I hope it can inspire someone to say to their little & loved ones "C'mon kids, I've got an idea for a game we could play"!!!