With literally hundreds of thousands of apps now being offered for tablets, smart phones, and other devices, it can be tough for a discerning parent to sift through them all and find the educational applications best suited to their own children. A few basic tips can help you narrow the search and set your kids up with apps that can help develop their skills and their minds–as well as keeping them entertained.
1. Identify the areas where you would like to boost your kids’ skills or understanding. If your child is on the verge of a reading break-through, the reading pre-skills apps might be just the thing. If “times tables” are a current school subject, you might look for an app that puts multiplication to practice. Keep tabs on what topics are being studied in school, and see what apps you can find that support the classroom-learning. Discuss with the teacher and have a look at curriculum aligned apps like our – Splash Math apps which are aligned to Common Core State Standards. And take advantage of the natural “teachable moments” that occur when your child asks questions or expresses an interest in something–head to the App Store to see what you can turn up that will engage your child on that subject.
2. Find a good App-Searching Tool. Apple, for example, offers a free application called “AppShopper,” which makes it easier to search the App Store offerings with a specific set of parameters you select yourself. You can choose your own criteria–including price, device(s) you use, and category (such as “Education), as well as keyword if you’re looking for something specific–and then browse all the apps that fit your set criteria. It’s a much more user-friendly process than trolling through the App Store itself, and you can even limit your search to the no-cost Free Apps if you’re on a budget.
3. Add educational programming with apps for educational channels. Television channels like PBS (and the more specific PBS Kids), the Discovery Channel, and the History Channel offer apps which enable your kids to watch educational programming from your mobile device. You may want to pre-select some programs, as some of the shows have more educational value than others, but the apps give you the advantage over the actual television set of being able to select a range of programs from the educational “archives” rather than being tied to the day’s set programming.
4. Add a “bookshelf” for each child. In addition to the games and interactive apps, don’t forget that your mobile device can carry books! You can create a virtual shelf for each of your children with a selection of books at their reading-level, and some of their “screen time” can actually be reading time. Depending on your child’s level in school and subjects being studied, you might even add some appropriate reference materials for homework-use.
5. Transform your mobile device into a study aid. For any given school subject, you can find an array of resources and study materials to support your child’s homework and studies. Look for flashcards, calculators, references for math or science, and perhaps even a homework-organizer app to help your child learn the skills of planning and organizing tasks.
A mobile device and its accompanying apps can provide much more for your child than just educational gaming–although the great educational games shouldn’t be discounted either! You can transform your device into a comprehensive educational resource with the right addition of apps.