The mention of esports typically conjures images of teenagers in headsets, positioned in front of colorful keyboards and brightly lit computer monitors. As competitive gaming grows popularity at high schools and colleges across the nation, it becomes even more important to lay the groundwork for these teams early on.
Starting students with online games in kindergarten can create a pipeline that will carry them through high school, into college and beyond.
Gaming in Kindergarten Doesn’t Require Robust Tech
The easiest way to introduce esports in kindergarten is with Minecraft: Education Edition. At that age, many students will already have some experience with the game, lowering the barrier to entry and instantly capturing the attention of young learners.
Minecraft games can run on most networks and devices, and it doesn’t require high-speed, high-performance hardware like esports does at higher levels. Other than a select few game modes, like races between teams, Minecraft doesn’t require a level of competition in which seconds make the difference between a win or loss.
Instead, the game is based on world building, problem-solving, collaborative gameplay and more. The biggest strain on a school’s network will be the initial installation of the program on student devices and any updates, which would occur after school hours.
Training and Partnerships Create the Pipeline for Kindergarten Gamers
While students may have experience with Minecraft before encountering it in an elementary school classroom, the same can’t be said of all educators asked to integrate the program into their lesson plans. For this, Microsoft offers the Education Esports Teacher Academy, which teaches educators how to use the tools in the program to take students beyond exploration in the world of Minecraft.
When laying the groundwork for esports in kindergarten and throughout elementary school, it’s important to build partnerships within the school system. Work with different departments and with teachers in higher grade levels. This will allow educators to create a pipeline that supports students’ skill building and potential careers in esports.
Making esports available in the classroom and as part of after-school programs shows students that they’re not just games, but rather a way to socialize, reduce stress and, as they grow older, improve skills needed for the workforce.
For educators and districts worried about fitting esports into their curriculums, the experts at CDW Education can help connect you to free resources and guidance on building the games into academic lessons at the kindergarten level and beyond.
This article is part of the “ConnectIT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology” series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #ConnectIT hashtag.