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Tabletop Gaming and Special Educational Needs

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The benefits of table top war games are actually very numerous, particularly for students with special educational needs.

For a start, reading codices, army lists and rule books is a great incentive for students to practice their literacy. I myself learned to read from the first Angels of Death book, and I distinctly remember doing some copying out of the Ork codex. I don't think it affected me too mu- WAAAAAGGHH!!


Building army lists is itself n exercise in numeracy, but taken further it can lead to some quite sophisticated maths. It may be an unpopular sentiment, but working out point efficiencies and predicted outcomes against targets is an excellent introduction to statistics and probability.
This may be a new excuse; it's not power gaming if it gets me through GCSE.

I probably don't need to discuss the creative aspect to the hobby. I'm sure a number of space marines have found their way into the A-level Art exam boxes.

But what's probably not obvious is the benefits to those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is a broad category, and perennial flavour of the month learning difficulty for teachers to get the latest training on.

War gaming is very much the opposite to rapid fire video games. Those can be digested in 5 minute chunks, or hour long sessions at the maximum. They're not helpful for students who have difficulty maintaining focus, and in some ways exacerbate the problem. Building a 40K army, however, is a labour of love and patience.

It takes days to build and paint. It can take days producing an army list. It takes a whole evening to run even a low point battle. These are long term projects, and require long term planning and focus. Whereas school work can be quite dry, with the final product being simply a project which you can only look at, a 40K army can be admired and used.

This lasting sense of achievement (barring the inevitable eBay day), is a very stabilising phenomena.
The caveat to all of this is tournament play, and over competitiveness. Whilst it is certainly important for students to have an element of competition to prepare them for the real world, you have to be cautious about setting them up to chase the dragon of the perfect army (sometimes composed of dragons... I'm looking at you High Elves).

Basically it's a fine line between a good bit of medicine and pushing a harmful addictive drug. Particularly with the cost of miniatures being what it is.

My club started up a few months ago, and it has attracted the crowd you would expect. The nerds, but probably not academically gifted. The odd balls with SEN that don't fit in with other groups. Fat kids. The ones not picked for sports teams. The usual proto-neck beards that will grow into proud owners of vast amounts of geekalia.

In the coming weeks, I'll let you know how I manage them, and what things can be done, as a teacher, to support these kids.


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