Esports centers were initially viewed with skepticism by schools. However, we have embarked on a transformative journey with the rise of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and other emerging technologies. In just one year, I have witnessed a shift from educators who were hesitant about video games to those who are actively developing an elementary esports curriculum, organizing esports summer camps, and even establishing after-school esports clubs.


While conversations around esports have predominantly focused on collegiate and secondary levels, there is a growing realization of the potential benefits for elementary school students.


The following tips will help you develop a successful elementary esports program:


Tip 1: Get Started, Then Get Better

When setting up an esports program for elementary school students, it's essential to use user-friendly and easy-to-operate technology. Although children today are digital natives, they might still have trouble with complex tech, so it's crucial to pick devices and software that are easy to understand. Starting with Minecraft: Education Edition is ideal because it is compatible with most networks and devices, and its user-friendly interface makes it easy for students to grasp.


Tip 2: Start Small and Utilize Existing Resources

Choose a space for creativity that should be comfortable and convenient, and re-use chairs and tables that are appropriate in size for the children. Additionally, tiered modular seating can be a practical addition if the esports space hosts students who are not actively playing or just observing. Lastly, ensure the area is well-lit and ventilated, as children are more sensitive to environmental factors than adults.


Tip 3: Embed Esports into Existing Curriculum

Esports doesn't have to be a standalone unit. Integrate it into the existing curriculum, fostering collaborative gameplay, mindfulness, team building, and reflection. Explore other esports worlds like NASEF's Farmcraft, an educational program that uses the popular game Minecraft to enhance understanding of the evolving agricultural industry and its impact on global food security.


Tip 4: Make It Authentic

Esports provides an authentic learning opportunity. Learn alongside students, facilitating their exploration of video games. Embrace uncertainty and engage in "side quests" with students, allowing for a dynamic learning environment.


Tip 5: Be Intentionally Inclusive

Create an inclusive environment by intentionally reaching out to all students. Highlight STEM role models from diverse backgrounds, ensuring everyone feels welcome in esports clubs and camps. Explore resources from organizations promoting diversity in gaming.


Tip 6: Keep Everyone on the Same Team

An elementary esports program should focus on developing skills and team building. Esports can be an engaging way to teach children critical thinking, problem-solving, and strategic planning skills. Additionally, it can introduce them to STEM concepts and ideas. While students won't be able to learn these skills in depth, the foundations they build will help them in future esports opportunities in middle and high school, where they can further develop their knowledge.


Elementary Esports in Action:

Find ways to make esports centers fun and engaging for young learners, plan to host esports summer camps, after-school clubs, or organize a family gamer night. Elementary students have short attention spans, so keeping the program interesting and exciting is essential.

To help children achieve their goals and improve their skills, games, rewards, and incentives can be used along with regular encouragement and recognition of their achievements. For instance, a point system or a "Player of the Week" award can motivate kids to work towards their objectives while highlighting their accomplishments to their peers and making them proud of their efforts.

Ready to embark on the exciting journey of integrating Elementary Esports into your school's curriculum? Explore the transformative potential and numerous benefits firsthand by scheduling a 30-minute discovery call with our expert team.