RPGs are now officially part of our curriculum!
Over dinner last night my family and I discussed plans for incorporating RPGs into the curriculum this year. First we had to identify a time to play each week. The girls have gymnastics every weekday, so that left the weekends. One concern I had was making sure the kids still get free time with their friends, especially the next door neighbors. Since their kids aren't allowed to play on Sundays, that means the only time my kids can play with them is on Saturdays. Thus we decided to leave Saturdays as free days, and we'll have a two- to three-hour RPG gaming session every Sunday beginning at lunch time. Now, if my girls want to invite their friends to play an RPG on a Saturday, that's cool, but we'll still also be playing on Sundays.
Next, my wife talked about some of her expectations for this project. She and I will be working closely to identify ways to tie her core curriculum content into the RPG experience. This will include things like vocabulary, math, history (think Magic Tree House on steroids), and geometry. I will also be giving language arts assignments in the form of journal entries (got the journal idea from Rebecca Angel Maxwell of Out of the Box Creative Learning). The journal entries will take many forms, from first-person and third-person narratives, to screenplay format, poetic verse, comic book panels, and more.
We also talked about trying out some different RPGs, like some of the ones on this list. This is because I'm going to be running a workshop on using RPGs as part of the homeschooling experience at the VaHomeschoolers 2011 Conference. I figure I should have some first-hand experiences with one or more RPGs other than Pathfinder or D&D before addressing the public about them. We use Pathfinder at my house - and we love it - but like D&D 3.5 before it, it's insanely complicated compared to some other games. It's not the kind of thing you can drop into a typical nine-year-old's lap and expect them to run with it without any help. My thinking is that most first-time gamers out there, especially parents who are just learning about RPGs for use with their kids, or perhaps folks with younger kids, will have a better introductory experience with something less complicated, perhaps even something aimed at kids.
My oldest daughter - known on this blog as Elerisa Celerna - expressed concerns over this. When we first got started and I kept changing my mind about what system we would be running (AD&D 2nd Ed., then D20 SRD, and finally Pathfinder RPG), we kept making changes to hers and her sisters' character sheets. The other girls just kind of rolled with it, but Elerisa by nature is a bit of a rules lawyer. She wanted stability and didn't enjoy the turbulence. I assured her that our primary fantasy campaign would still be run in Pathfinder (I've spent too much time and money on it for it not to be, right?), and Elerisa the character will not be subjected to any more rules changes. This placated her. Meanwhile, the others - especially my middle child - seem excited by all the possibilities.
Gaming as an official part of the curriculum starts this Sunday at 1:00 PM. I can't wait.