Behaviors form at a young age. By the age of 5, your child prefers playing games over hearing the same old advice and forbiddance. Sneaking parental advice into a game is pointless: children know better.
Every parent knows that with love and patience, you can help children build good reflexes that will protect them all life long: stay away from sharp objects, from fire, from strangers or from mosquitoes. For sweets, chips, soda and all the rest, that can prove more difficult.
How to teach children from a young age to beware of certain types of food and to realize how important physical activity is?
Active pedagogy1 tells us that you can introduce a child to a problem and let her find the solution by herself. And you can use fun tools to capture her interest and grab her attention.
Keshi is here to help the child discover how to become responsible for herself. And not just to be obedient.
In the 21st century, video games have taken over part of children’s play space -and even adults’ cultural space- to the point of becoming a major force in the media landscape.
Video games can be very immersive, even more so with the recent advances in virtual or augmented reality, connectivity and geolocation). This makes them a powerful source of learning and acquisition of new habits, in the same way traditional games have been for centuries.
Keshi is all about directing that power towards improving children’s health and supporting parents’ efforts.
Can we count on a 5-year old to be «responsible»? Why not? A young child often aspires to do things by himself:« – Mom, let me do this! – No, you’re too young (sometimes hiding this unconscious thought: “I want you to remain young”)».
A child can be torn between the delightful pleasure of eating sweet and delicious things, and the befuddling deprivations imposed by the loved ones: if you really love me, why don’t let me enjoy the things I like?
By picking food items and moving his avatar around, the child discovers that he can either let it stuff itself and get weak, or let it grow tall and strong: that’s the superhero he identifies with.
Here’s an example: to keep children safe on the street, you don’t need to teach them the whole set of traffic rules, the history of car brands or the technology behind traffic lights. You just teach them this: you look left, then you look right, or “when the little man is green, you may cross the street; if it’s red, you stay put”. Until this becomes automatic and works without even realizing it.
That’s how simulators work: you pilot a virtual plane with a real joystick so your hands and brain acquire the right reflexes.
Keshi puts the child in charge of her own growth through that of an avatar. Who has never dreamed of becoming a superhero? Just look at the worldwide success of the Marvel characters!
Video games, through their remarkable immersive power, generate strong positive emotions in a child every time they win. And they always end up winning, because that’s how the game is designed.
Those emotions are linked to the in-game experience and it is likely they build small neural networks of pleasure and satisfaction in the brain, which balance those responsible for the pleasure of eating hamburgers or of idling away on the sofa.
And they also counterbalance the pleasure mechanisms that advertising tries to build around industrial foods, sodas, candy bars, etc.
But there’s one more very important element: by connecting to his avatar, like a plush toy or favorite doll that’s most precious to him, the young player identifies with it. He’s emotionally invested in his efforts to turn it into a superhero. He’s instrumental in the avatar’s success by choosing the right food for it and by moving around. Those two behaviors will remain linked to a positive emotion in the child’s mental map throughout his growth.
From birth, children are on a path to autonomy. That’s their end goal. They progressively escape their dependence on the love of their parents as well as their authority.
From a very young age, children discover the concept of pleasure, but also that of food, which is a matter of survival. By the age of 5, they know what they prefer, and that’s usually chocolate over broccoli!
So when their loving parents insist on 5 fruits and vegetables a day instead of burgers and sodas, children are conflicted: how come those who love me don’t like what I love?
How can they figure that out? How do we explain it to them? A crash course in nutrition?
So we often fall back on authority. Even wrapped in love, the child remains in a state of dependence even though her life course is already set to an orbit that escapes her parents’ gravitational pull.
These are the perfect ingredients for a conflict, which many parents live daily.
Keshi is the middle man, it’s going to do the hard work. No more harsh parental authority. The child faces this issue alone: feed your avatar as you please and see what it becomes. And if you want your avatar to become a superhero, you’ll soon figure out how. You will not forget. A red flag will always light up in the future when this issue comes up again.
Keshi’s only ambition is to create protective reflexes: to remember that some foods, just like idleness, are not good for your own growth. Keshi doesn’t try to teach, but to fight some emotions with other emotions.
Other games, for other ages, will help build other assets: skills, knowledge and motivation.
1 Active pedagogy.
Maria Montessori,, born August 31, 1870 in Chiaravalle near Ancona and deceased on May 6, 1952 in Noordwijk aan Zee, was an Italian physician and educator. She gained global fame for the educational method that bears her name, the Montessori method.
The Freinet pedagogy was devised by Célestin Freinet and his wife Elise1. It is based on children’s freedom of expression: free texts, free drawings, inter-school mail, printing a student journal, etc.
Teaching children through enquiry-based learning in real-life situations of “limited work” (...)
Learning through practice is the concrete project against the outdated yet common idea that education must be formal and verbal. (“Practice makes perfect”)
Put children in charge of their education and contribute to their emancipation.
The Decroly pedagogy is based on the fundamental principle of globalization, which is the concept that a child thinks and learns holistically. Consequently, a student needs a global and transversal approach, before going into analysis, details and abstract concepts.