Written by Hazel Davis

Lifestyle

Hey! Teachers! I’ll leave my kids at home

Hazel Davis and her fella have decided to home-educate their kids. This week, she’s embracing The Power Of Games.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

I deserve a knighthood for services to education. I have found the key to everything. It’s Guess Who?. Who knew? Giselle with the blonde bunches and glasses probably did. Preppy little shit.

I happened across a cheap and VERY FLIMSY and poor-quality knock-off version of everyone’s favourite game (mine is called Who Am I?) in a charity shop for £1.25 a couple of weeks ago. I bought it because, well, at that price I thought it was a punt worth taking and both children seem to have worryingly good memories* so I figured they could hack it. Hack it? They’re bleedin’ well obsessed with it.

And I can’t tell you what an amazing investment it’s been. You can keep your abacuses and your Ofsteds (to be fair, I’ve not been in a school in a while; not sure what they actually do). Give me two siblings and a load of paper faces and they’ll be reading before you know it.

There are SO many lessons to learn from Guess Who?. There’s patience (if you have the knock-off version like we do, it takes WEEKS to stick the tiny plastic holders up) for starters. Then there’s the turn-taking, obviously.

“The three-year-old took a while to get the hang of Guess Who?. “Does yours have EYES?” she’d ask.”

We discovered The Power Of Games properly at Christmas. Well, we discovered that our three-year-old can be used as an excellent opponent, even if she doesn’t know what’s really happening (then we later realised that she is smarter than all of us and I am never ever going to play her at Scrabble when she eventually learns to read). Throwing and counting the spots on a dice is an entire educational game of its own. And it’s totes cheaper than softplay.

The three-year-old took a while to get the hang of Guess Who?. “Does yours have EYES?” she’d ask, “Does yours have a red dress?” (it’s LITERALLY just faces), then “Does yours have pink hair?” (no, none of them do). Now she goes straight for the hats, moustaches and glasses like a pro.

And there’s the incidental reading. Clem (four and a half) knows all her letters and can read most words with some help… IF SHE IS IN THE MOOD. However, she’s more than happy to play dumb if she feels there’s a danger of education happening against her will.

But when faced with the prospect of being beaten by her sister she can read the word ‘Charlie’ unbidden in a flash. “Is it Brenda?” we’ll ask, winking at each other, “No! P…E…Petra!” She’ll shout, giddy with power and knowledge, before going, “What, I dunno? I’m only four. Who?”

Then there’s counting. “How many cards have you got left, Clem? Have you got more than Gillie?” can be guaranteed to elicit the correct response when sister-thrashing is involved. There’s the general knowledge of head parts (throw in a “and how do you SPELL ‘eyes’?” and you might get the board overturned but it’s worth a try). And, if you use a later version, it’s a good exercise in diversity, though, as a friend pointed out on Facebook, the original 1979 version is “as diverse as a UKIP rally.”

Guess Who?, and gamification (yes, that’s a thing, actually) has been a bit of a revelation. I mean, I imagine teachers know this shit already but I don’t have a PGCE, I didn’t know! Now the game (a friend sent me her brand-new, unopened ACTUAL travel Guess Who? earlier this week) is a nightly pre-dinner occurrence and I couldn’t be happier about it. I cannot WAIT until I can kick their arse at my Trivial Pursuit Millennium edition – my knowledge of pre-2000 Grand National winners is unparalleled in this house.

*Shit.

Read all of Hazel’s adventures in home-edding here.

@hazedavis

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Written by Hazel Davis

Hazel Davis is a freelance writer from West Yorkshire. She has two tiny children but the majority of her hours are taken up with thinking about Alec Baldwin singing sea shanties and the time someone once called her "moreishly interesting".