Children learn best when they are playing, and role-playing as someone older, such as a parent, a teacher, or other adult characters helps them to make sense of the world. Simulations provide a playing field to deal with new situations, practice different outcomes, and learn new skills in a safe environment. While some simulation games can teach your child different skills, from managing a budget to flying an aircraft, almost all of them enable your child to practice decision making, strategic and tactical thinking – while having epic amounts of fun!
There are many different simulation games out there, so there really is something for everyone and everything: There are hospital simulators, flight simulators, army simulators such as Call of Duty, city-building simulators (our favorite is SimCity) that teach management and economics, and, of course, life simulators – featuring The Sims as the best franchise in that category. The current version of the game, The Sims 4, also imitates emotions and uses them to affect the whole gameplay experience.
Let’s take a deeper look into The Sims 4 and what, with the right guidance, it can teach your child (and you, too) about the real world:
- Household management – your child will explore the abilities and understand the responsibilities of a parent, as they can play different family members simultaneously. They can also develop a sense of responsibility by taking care of their virtual children and pets.
- Budget management – your child will have to send their Sims to work and learn how to make a budget in order to pay for their current expenses and save for big purchases – such as a family vacation.
- Time management – the Sims, just like us, are mortal. They grow older, they have only 7 days a week and only 24 hours per day – and how they spend that time is up to your child (who also takes into consideration their Sims needs, aspirations, personality, and other factors).
- Build relationships – the Sims are social creatures with very straightforward interactions. Your child can easily understand the emotionally-exaggerated reactions they get from other Sims and act accordingly to get their Sims relationships to where they want it to go.
- Develop a career – your child will get their Sims promoted and earn more Simoleons as they fulfill their goals and make challenging decisions in their career.
- Dealing with different emotions and life situations – every event in the Sims life triggers their emotions in some way, so during the game, they will have different moods that affect their behavior, what they can or can’t do, their reactions, etc. The way your child will work around those moods and emotions in order to accomplish their Sims goals will also teach them a lot about how to handle real-life emotional experiences and how to treat others with empathy and compassion.
- Business management – with some expansion packs, your child will also be able to build and manage a business from scratch – including managing virtual employees, inventory, and customer service.
Turn a simulation game into a personal development tool for your child in 4 steps
Step 1: Learn
Learn the game by playing it yourself, explore the different aspects of it, and figure out what your child can learn out of it about the real world (and also make sure it is suitable for their age).
Step 2: Play
Have a gaming session with your child – introduce them to the game, let them play, and explain/demonstrate as needed, make analogies from the real world to help them understand the game.
Step 3: Connect
Talk about the game in your free time and help your child to make connections between the game and situations in the real world.
Step 4: Share
Your child can now continue playing every day as much as they want, with you or on their own (if the game is extremely fun they will want to play for hours – but 60 minutes a day is definitely enough). Talk to them after each gaming session and ask what they learned from the game about the real world – you can even make it a regular conversation topic during family dinners and let all family members share this experience.