An elementary esports program that meets learners’ needs should include considerations for learning space design and quality furnishings.

4 tips for creating an elementary esports program

An elementary esports program that meets young learners’ needs should include considerations for learning space design and high-quality furnishings

Key points:

  • Esports programs are inclusive and can lead to positive student outcomes
  • A simple approach with accessible, easy-to-use tools, is critical

Scholastic esports is rapidly growing, and many schools are starting to incorporate esports programs into their curriculum. The benefits of esports make a compelling case for creating a program: Research shows that students who participate in scholastic esports experience social and emotional benefits, increased academic achievement, and higher graduation rates.

These positive learning outcomes make esports popular in secondary grades, with both students and educators advocating for the addition and growth of scholastic esports in their middle and high schools. But esports isn’t just for the older kids, and starting an esports program in early elementary school can be an effective way to lay the groundwork for esports participation as students make their way into higher grade levels.

When young students have opportunities to engage in game-based learning and online games, they are able to build a foundation of skills and interests that can connect them to future esports opportunities in middle school, high school, and beyond. However, creating an elementary esports program isn’t quite the same as creating a secondary program, because younger learners have different abilities and learning needs than their older peers. It’s key that the program is tailored to meet these young learners’ needs, and learning space design and quality furnishings play an important part in supporting program goals.

To ensure the development of a successful elementary esports program, here are four helpful tips:

1. Simplify the Tech

The technology used in an elementary esports program should be user-friendly and simple to operate. While today’s young children are digital natives, they still may struggle with complex technology, so it’s essential to choose devices and software that are easy to use and understand. An easy game to start with is Minecraft: Education Edition, which can run on most networks and devices and is simple and intuitive for students to play. Selecting a game like Minecraft removes the need for expensive and complicated gaming computers, controllers, and keyboards, which can be challenging to learn and have high upkeep costs. Instead, focus on technology that is durable and reliable––such as tablets and desktop computers––as young children may accidentally damage equipment if it’s not designed to withstand their usage.

2. Ensure Comfort

The learning space you utilize for your elementary esports program should reflect the physical needs of young learners. Furnishings should be convenient and comfortable, with chairs and tables that are appropriately sized for the children who will be using them. Adjustable desks and chairs can be helpful to ensure comfort and function across grade levels, so that students can easily alter their gaming space to get their monitors and keyboards at a comfortable height. If your esports space will be hosting students who are not always actively playing or are just observing, tiered modular seating can also be a practical addition to the space. Finally, make sure the space is well-lit and ventilated, as children are more sensitive to environmental factors than adults.

3. Focus On Skills and Collaboration

An elementary esports program should be focused on developing skills and team-building. Esports can be an engaging way to teach children critical thinking, problem-solving, and strategic planning skills, while also introducing them to STEM ideas and concepts. Students won’t learn these skills in-depth, but the foundations they build will carry them into future esports opportunities in middle and high school, where they can further develop their knowledge.

Competition has been shown to have some negative effects on elementary-aged students, so collaboration is an important part of building a successful program for young learners. While scholastic esports is traditionally a competitive activity, working collaboratively is a key part of joining an esports team at all age levels. An elementary esports program should emphasize the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship, so it’s important to incorporate activities and exercises that promote collaboration and communication.

4. Find Ways to Engage Young Students

To create a successful program, it’s crucial to find ways to make esports fun and engaging for young learners. Elementary students have short attention spans, so it’s important to keep the program interesting and exciting. This can be achieved through the use of games, rewards, and incentives, alongside regular encouragement and recognition of achievements. For example, a “Player of the Week” award or a point system can encourage children to work towards personal goals and improve their skills, while also highlighting their accomplishments to their peers and helping them feel proud of their work.

Scholastic esports can be a great opportunity for elementary learners to build and expand upon valuable skills and interests at a young age. Through an elementary esports program, children are able to develop a foundation in esports that can set them up for future success in middle school, high school, and college esports programs.

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