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TORONTO, ON, June 12, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Jonathan, 11, is in the school library after school on a Friday, but it isn't detention; he's playing computer games that help him think. "It's fun," he says. "It's a nice way to end the week," chimes in schoolmate Sasha, 11. The two are members of the Thinking Skills Club, playing online games curated by school parent Mitch Moldofsky.
An instructional designer now completing a Cognitive Science degree at the University of Toronto, Moldofsky began piloting the club at his sons' school two years ago after reading brain research touting the benefits of such games and seeing a library full of computers sitting idle after hours. Learning that math ability, for instance, has been tied to the mental skill of spatial attention, he found online games that use spatial attention in order to build that function. According to Moldofsky, using existing games rather than developing his own was a deliberate strategy. "Unlike other brain training games, which are frankly boring, these games were designed with only one thing in mind: fun!"
Winning games earns members pieces of a brain puzzle, which gets them playing in different areas of the site, such as memory, rather than sticking with the more familiar problem-solving games. The idea for the puzzle came from working with the kids. "Tracking is the key benefit," Moldofsky relates. "Without that, it's kind of hit and miss." Winning all six pieces earns members a graduation certificate.
"It's fantastic," says the mother of Asha, 8. "I don't usually allow her to play computer games, but with this she learns to use the mouse and is exercising her brain." The Thinking Skills Club website went online in May. With parents looking for things for kids to do over the long summer so that they don't fall behind academically, the timing couldn't be better.
About Thinking Skills Club:
Research has shown that playing ordinary computer games can improve cognitive functions such as memory, attention or empathy. The Thinking Skills Club website organizes these games into a curriculum that motivates kids via a Brain Puzzle. It can be used at home, in a classroom or a club setting. A "Grown Ups" sister site has information for educators, a Leader's Guide for those who want to start a local club, and links to relevant research. Video
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