Last week the Navigator and I figured out how to play in the same Minecraft world on our separate computers without going to a public server.

He was very excited about it and asked if we could play together in a survival world.

I have written about how I have previously avoided playing in survival mode because I am not crazy about fighting monsters.

I prefer the creative mode where I can just build things and not have to worry about aggressive creatures in the dark.

The Navigator has also avoided survival mode up to this point. From Autcraft he got experience battling monsters in the arenas which was a non-threatening and fun way to do it.

That experience made him more confident, and he felt ready to try out survival mode.

We made a plan to create a brand new world the next day. He decided what to name it and then we talked about who was going to do what when we opened the world. T

here is a need to plan ahead because after landing in a world there is only 10 minutes to create a shelter before day becomes night and the monsters come out.

“I am good at mining, Mom so I will find stone and coal and make tools. You’re good at building so you can get wood and build a shelter.”

When we landed in the new world, we talked about where we wanted the shelter to be.

At the end of each day we have talked about what we are going to the during the next day’s play, each of us both agreeing on our respective tasks as well as for how long we would play (e.g., three Minecraft days, sunrise to sunrise, which is about an hour).

He then researched in one of his Minecraft books to find a model of a house we could build, and closely reviewed the step-by-step instructions in the book.

What I am talking about here, my friends, is executive functioning. The planning out, organizing, and completing steps of a project.

These are exactly the skills I had hoped he would gain from Minecraft.

LearningWorks for Kids, a resource for how to use video games to teach kids, suggests four steps for using Minecraft to strengthen executive function skills:

  • Set strict play time rules
  • Set some goals
  • Set some bigger goals
  • Re-create something from the real world

Bing! It was almost effortless how we worked together to coordinate the who, what, where, when, how and why of our planning.

He seemed to know what he needed to focus on from the division of labor based on skills to setting our goals to researching our real-world-recreation project.

He even made leather armor and gave me the chest and leg pieces because I was more likely to get hit there by monsters than he was.

That was more than just being sweet to Mom, that was a team-based needs analysis, pure and simple.

After watching him for so long play next to his Aunt Awesome and me instead of with us, this new team-coordination focus is exciting!

Now that I have seen this demonstration of skill I can help him build on what he knows and what he can do for other projects, like homework and school projects.

Once again I am very glad I started playing Minecraft too. Without that decision I could have missed this.

For more information on Minecraft and executive functioning, as well as other skills building, check out these articles from LearningWorks for Kids:

Minecraft & Autism: Teaching Self-Control in Combat and Defeat

Mincraft and Executive Function


  1. Minecraft is a great educational game and it is fun. I play Minecraft and was recently interviewed about it for the Swedish magazine Attention (a supportive organisation for autism, asperger, tourette, ADHD and ADD). The topic was Minecraft and creativity. I think it is great that you play with and next to your son!


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