In this Guest Blog to mark National Teaching Assistants Day, Kathryn Henderson, Teaching Assistant and Gamer writes for YGAM about the importance of understanding the world of Gaming.

When I left school, I knew two things for certain. Firstly, I wanted to work with children and young people and secondly, I loved Gaming. Gaming has played a big part in my life and I have made many friends through online gaming, enjoyed many memorable experiences and developed greater confidence in my own abilities through engaging with the wonderful world of video games. When I first started my training to be a Teaching Assistant, I never thought that my gaming experience could play any part in my career, let alone help me in the way that it has.  

My knowledge of gaming has allowed me to connect with many children in a way that would have been much more challenging if I did not share this common ground with pupils at the school in which I teach. In recent years this has become even more useful, as more and more children are engaging with gaming and the world of video games has been revolutionised by a variety of online platforms, including social media.  

Being a Teaching Assistant is no easy task and as many people who work in education regularly express, TA’s play a vital role in the learning and development of children, especially within the Primary setting in which I work. Whilst there are challenges to being a TA, it is also a hugely rewarding job. Being able to apply my understanding of child development and different education practices in a safe and secure setting leads to a lot of job satisfaction, as do the relationships I have built with colleagues and of course, pupils and their families. Watching children grow, develop and gain confidence as they learn the basic skills that they will retain for life is an equally joyous experience.  

A huge part of my role as a TA is made easier by being able to empathise with and understand the experience of the children whom I look after each day. Being able to understand the world of gaming and having the knowledge of the complexities that come with the increasingly digital lives many children are living, has certainly helped me do my job effectively and in some cases, resolve situations that otherwise would have been confusing.  

Safeguarding against online gaming harms requires knowledge and confidence in the subject area, but through free training, like that offered by YGAM, I know other TA’s, Teachers and Youth Workers can also understand more about the virtual world and the risks associated with it for children and young people.  

My message to other TA’s this National Teaching Assistant Day is that we can all make a real difference, if we have the knowledge and understanding to ensure children can enjoy gaming safely and free of harms.  

Kathryn Henderson

Teaching Assistant, North East England.  

To Learn more about National Teaching Assistants Day visit: https://nationalteachingassistantsday.co.uk/