As any parent these days will know, educating your children is no longer the preserve of school teachers or other childcare providers. Indeed, even when your children are younger than school age, there are a number of ways that you can start their education off on the right foot.
Whether it’s an educational toy, the right choice of television show or even the selection of playtime activities, education comes in many different forms. But one form that’s often forgotten about is digital apps and games.
Wherever you stand on the “How much screen time should children have?” debate, it’d be naïve to think that you can keep your child away from ‘devices’ these days – they’re everywhere.
What you can do, however, is to supply your child with educational apps and games to play on whatever smart device they have – there are literally thousands out there, from puzzles to language tutors, with everything in between.
But if you’ve got no idea where to start, here’s 5 educational apps that you might want to consider – I’ve ordered them by age appropriateness, from younger to older.
Teach your monster to read: first steps
Let’s start with an app which is perfect for the little ones – under 5s and anything around that age group. This app is created by the same people as the popular educational website ‘Teach your Monster to Read’, so if your child has already used that site they may be familiar with this already. Now I suspect this might not be for everyone, but if your child is/has been learning ‘synthetic phonics’ in school (if that doesn’t sound familiar, they probably haven’t!) then this app is a great complement to that particular teaching method.
This is another great app that is ideally suited to the under 5 bracket. It’s made by the same bright sparks who make the ‘Lumosity’ brain-training app which many of you will already be familiar with. The creators have put this together with a child audience firmly in mind – it’s easy to use for even the littlest fingers. The tasks are simple yet educational, fun and easy to use. The makers claim that most of the activities in here are helping children practise core skills which are key to their development – and you can’t argue with that!
Twelve a Dozen
Moving on from the under 5’s, this app is perfect for children from around ages 5 to 10 (though early developers may also enjoy it). The creators of this app have done such a good job, they’ve actually been nominated for a BAFTA award, which seems like a pretty good endorsement. At the time of writing It costs £2.99 to buy, but for that relatively small cost you get a very slick and well thought-out little app, which will help your child with core maths skills and other educational benefits. The real genius of the app is that it’s set out like a classic “platform” game, so most children will have no idea that they’re actually learning while they play! Genius.
Barefoot World Atlas
With a focus on geography and the world around us, this app is aimed squarely at the primary school age group, though my two got into it a little earlier than that. It’s hardly surprising when their mother is a geography teacher though! The Barefoot Atlas went down very well in our house, and helped to foster an early love of exploring the planet. Featuring a pretty impressive 3D globe, the app lets you explore the world, learning about countries, people and languages along the way. As well as just being able to explore, the app includes Narration from BBC presenter Nick Crane, which is a big bonus and adds to the professional feel of the app.
They say this app is aimed at primary school aged children, but I suspect you could get some value out of it at any age, as it makes learning a second language a lot easier. Whilst it’s no in-depth language course, this clever little app has a wealth of features to help your little one master a second (or third!) language easily. Languages covered by 'Duolingo' include Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, and English, –a pretty comprehensive selection to start even the most voracious linguist off! And the best part of all? It’s completely free to download!
Henry Elliss is a digital marketer by day and a pun-loving, dad-blogging, photo-taking, Lego-making, beard-wearing, child-caring father of two and husband of one by day, night, weekend and every other moment. For more family adventures, reviews and parenting hints and tips, visit Henry’s Fatherhood blog.