A doctor’s job is to save lives. We like our species and we’re not really fond of death.

An architect’s job is to build houses. So we have a safe place to live and bring up children.

A teacher’s job is to teach children. So they can become adults who save more lives and build more houses, go to the Moon and generally achieve more than their predecessors.

But what is a child’s job until they become an adult? Child labor is immoral and illegal; I’m not referring to that kind of job. I’m talking about what a child does all day and others recognize as a child-defining activity.

Well, a child’s job is to play. Not to learn, but to play.

Through play they learn. They learn to be part of a community and develop into fine men and women. They can learn everything they need to, all while having fun.

Kids are great at their job.

And then they go to school. And continue the learning part. Somehow, the fun part gets less and less attention. Learning doesn’t happen through play anymore, but through repetition, memorization and the stress of standardized tests.

Unless they have a great teacher, that is.

Because great teachers know that children learn best when playing, so they include gamification techniques in their lessons.

4 Reasons to gamify your classroom

If you haven’t already.

From the small addition of a mini game to gamifying your entire classroom, gamification uses your students’ natural desire for competition, achievement and status, makes them collaborate, showcases their talents and spotlights their accomplishments. All this results in a richer, more engaging learning experience. When children learn through play they learn better.

So here are four reasons to gamify your classroom, at least just a little bit.

1. Play-based learning increases children’s attention span

You probably got the memo that a goldfish is better than a human in terms of attention span. We are all living in the world of instant notifications, constant interruptions and never-ending noise. Students can’t shut down all this, so no wonder they can’t deeply focus on something for too long.

If they are involved in a game as part of their learning process however, they’ll inevitably pay more attention to what they have to do to win that game than to a monologue about the same subject you as a teacher could deliver in front of the classroom. Game-based learning keeps them focused for longer and the interactivity that comes along a game will help students better remember what they learn.

2. Games provide constant motivation

Faced with a big task, anyone can feel overwhelmed and lose motivation to tackle it. It’s human nature and students of all ages shouldn’t be blamed for avoiding school project tasks or losing motivation along the way.

The structure of a game, whether we’re talking about Candy Crush Saga or an educational game proper for a classroom lesson, will always have levels, points to collect in order to finish each level, and maybe even a trophy or some sort of other big incentive at the end of it. All these contribute to a sense of progress in the learning process.

Players get satisfaction and keep their motivation levels high whenever they win something, be it a few points after a game level or the big trophy at the end. Few will realize, that besides the points, level ups and trophies, they also win more knowledge. Nonetheless, they will.

3. Games encourage perseverance

Ask any successful person what was their recipe for success and you’ll probably hear about perseverance in almost every answer. Olympic athletes train for thousands of hours before they even get qualified to participate. No medal, no matter the metal it’s made from, is won based on overnight effort.

Successful people get up after a failure and try again.

When a student fails to give the right answer in class they may get embarrassed and lose confidence in what they know. But when they fail in a game, they get more ambitious to prove they can eventually win that game. And when they do, they feel like Olympic athletes.

Through games, fail only means a first attempt in learning.

4. Learning games enhance and support lessons

Kids can play mindless games for hours, but this doesn’t mean they need to do this in the classroom. Games can be very educational if used in the right context.

For example, a pirate game can teach students how to calculate the latitude and the longitude of a certain point on a map to find the location of a treasure island. Likewise, a simple rocket game can help students improve their math calculus if the speed of the rocket is determined by how well each player enters a right answer. And let’s not forget about the infamous Pokemon Go that made players transform miles into meters if they wanted to know how far should they walk to get a Pokemon egg.

Over to you

Gamification is fueled by innovation and creative thinking. Everyday, more educators are learning and applying gamification components to their classrooms to bring out the very best in their students.

Considering the above four reasons, will you gamify your classroom?

Author: Livia M

Livia is the lead online voice of NEO by CYPHER LEARNING. She writes about education technology for K-12 and higher ed, gamification, BYOD, as well as other ed-tech subjects.