A Mom's Guide to Educational Games
Pokemon Sword & Shield

My youngest son received a Switch for Christmas 2019 from Santa and a few Nintendo gift cards. Against my wishes, he talked his dad into letting him buy Pokemon Shield. I love the Pokemon games and have absolutely nothing against them. The only reason why I didn’t want him to own or play that game is because he’s in kindergarten, aka he can’t read. That translates into one of us reading for him the entire time, because his older brother is too cool to help the younger one out.

What this actually translates into is I have to read for him, because his father, who let him buy the game, is conveniently deployed for the next few months. It’s just amazing how that magically happened.

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This game is really too old for him, and not just in the reading department. While Pokemon games are rather easy gateway RPGs, they still require strategy. He hasn’t quite figured out the concept of healing your Pokemon during battle or the need to level them up, much less sorted out type strengths and weaknesses. He literally tried to take a team of all fire-types to the water gym. He wondered why that didn’t go well.

Suffice to say, I’m doing quite a bit of coaching and strategizing for him, especially when he refuses to level up his team. I almost feel like I’m playing the game twice, since I’m working on Pokemon Sword on my own Switch. I know that this is all part of learning how to play an RPG, so I’m trying to stay as patient as possible.

That isn’t bothering half as much as the reading. I never realized how much reading there was in this game until I had to read it aloud. I had no idea everyone was so chatty or there was so much exposition! It’s driving me crazy, especially when he opens the shower curtain to ask what something says.

Pokemon Sword & Shield

But just because he is in kindergarten, it doesn’t mean he can’t or he’s not learning how to read. So now, when I’m not in the shower, I ask him to pick out the sight words he is working on in class (for those who don’t have kids, sight words are words the kids are learning to recognize upon sight). The dialogue often has plenty of sight words in it, and he enjoys picking them out when I ask. From the sight words then, he can sometimes infer the meaning from the sentence. Even when he can’t, I’ll still have him sound out words to get him in that habit.

Now it takes ten times as long to get through simple dialogue, but it doesn’t feel as though it’s as big of a waste of time. He’s working on his sight words, he’s piecing together reading, and he has something that motivates him to learn how to read. Even though it may take five minutes to get through a few lines, he is so happy when he’s able to read through most of it. The fact he has dyslexia makes this a double win.

Next step is to get him to understand the strategy of potions and revives as well as grinding Pokemon levels. Nobody enjoys that part of the game, but like the reading, it’s just as necessary.

Keri Honea
Keri Honea
@crunchychocobo

Contributing Writer
Date: 01/22/2020

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