Game-Based Learning


The Benefits of Game-Based Learning for 10 to 14-year olds


Every day children are faced with increased amounts of pressure to work harder, learn more quickly, and manage their emotions. This is especially true for 10 to 14-year olds due to their intellectual growth during this period. However, this pressure is unhealthy for them and can lead to anxiety and depression.

The premise of the game show “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” tells us that children at this age are extremely smart. Along with that, their critical thinking skills are top-notch. The downfall to this age group’s intellect is that their decision-making skills are the exact opposite. Their physical abilities are also great but 10 to 14-year olds tend to be lazy which leads to sloppiness. Children at this age are all over the emotional spectrum and they care about what their peers think.

Because their abilities at this age, as well as societal and academic pressures, play is often put on the back burner as a learning resource. However, as Diane Ackerman said, “Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” This holds true for 10 to 14-year olds. The problem is that education reform has taken the excitement and creativity from the classroom for pre-teens and teens.

For this reason, a program with a foundation of a game-based learning approach is extremely important. This method gets them excited about learning, so they put forth more effort. It also requires that they pay attention to detail and react to obstacles with determination.

With the SKILLZ program, 10 to 14-year olds are challenged so that they can establish a foundation of extreme skill development. The 4-dimensional approach to instruction that is used in every class benefits the student by focusing on all stages of their current development. They are encouraged to demonstrate dexterity and strength on small details, apply focus and versatility, show good decision-making skills and effort, and show maturity when working with peers.

For example, in the drill “Forms Tag” students are partnered up and are asked to run through their form. When the instructor says “tag” the other partner must take over and finish the form from that point. During this drill, the students must begin the form and focus on applying energy and strength to each move in an effort to demonstrate dexterity to small details. This helps with their physical development because it decreases sloppiness in their forms. Intellectually this assists their development by having them apply focus and precision so that they don’t hold back on challenges that they find too easy or too hard. Emotionally, they develop better decision-making skills when put under the pressure to execute proper reaction. And by working with a partner, the students are learning to show maturity when working with a peer and take praise and recognition when they are doing well.

When 10 to 14-year olds participate in programs or activities that include game-based learning, they continue to develop at a rapid rate in all four stages of development. A well-rounded program that makes learning fun helps children build confidence and trust in the learning process, while minimizing anxiety. This fusion of learning and fun makes children become passionate for lifelong learning.

Fostering a Positive Growth Mindset

Fostering a Positive Growth Mindset


We all love to see our kids excel in everything they do. There is no doubt that when kids finally nail their form, or fly across the mat and break a board; everyone involved shares a sense of accomplishment. BUT it is only a matter of time before our ninjas come across something that challenges them. Before we go any further, let’s agree that challenges are good things!


If you are never challenged then either you aren’t working hard enough, or you’re not growing. Both of those are opposite concepts in relation to martial arts. From rank to rank, everything gets harder because being a Martial Artist is about growth and being better than you were the day before.


Getting 1% better every day makes you 365% better by the end of the year!


As adults, we understand this but for children this can be a little more difficult for them to wrap their heads around. Here is a quick list of things you can do or say to build a positive growth mindset!


1) How does this make you feel?

Often times when our children are challenged or stumbled they feel disappointed in the fact that either they let you down, or they let themselves down. It is important to allow them to take the time to process their feelings and to not use blanket statements like “you will be ok” or “get back on that horse”. Those statements would be better used after they are able to process their emotions.


2) Hug it out

When you are kids are feeling upset, they are experiencing a major dose of cortisol (stress hormone). A nice hug will help trigger the release of oxytocin (connection chemical) and will help reduce the level of cortisol in their system. Even a high five can help, try using the “up high, down low, too slow” approach for added smiles!


3) Come up with a plan

Once we work past the initial emotional downswing, resolve to set a plan to help overcome whatever the challenge was. A great way to go about this is to set goals! When doing so start small and break the main goal down into smaller, easily digestible that are more attainable. Once you develop some momentum, then raise the bar and make your goals just a little bit harder. Keep doing this until you have overcome the initial challenge.


4) Focus on growth

Some things are extremely difficult, and everyone has a different experience. What may be hard for your child, may be easy for another and vice versa. The goal here is to help our ninjas be focused on their own personal growth and not get lost comparing themselves to others. Remind them that what matters is that they give 100% and at the end of the day, YOU will be proud of them for that!


Using these tips will help provide your ninja with a sense of confidence and self-esteem when they face a challenge on the mat or in life. Remember to be consistent because developing a positive inner voice will begin with YOU. If you are able to foster a positive growth mindset on the outside, this will become their inner voice that will stay with them for a VERY long time!


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