The questions surrounding screen time for children are endless; how much is too much? What needs to be policed? How can I tell which apps are good and which apps are bad? Not only that, but there is a huge stigma around sitting your child in front of the TV or an iPad for a while whilst you catch up with the never ending to-do list, or just have some much needed time out!
We decided to look at what the experts are saying about screen time and how it can benefit your child’s development, in order to help us compile a list of a few educational apps that will engage and entertain your child in the best way possible.
A review of 35 studies from around the world recently found that the apps with the strongest learning benefits are those that target maths, literacy and language skills, including those that teach the alphabet, phonics, and vocabulary. Researchers also suggest that apps have the ability to aid development in other areas such as science and general skills development*.
With in mind, we analysed ratings and reviews of children’s educational apps from the past 12 months on both the Apple Store and Google Play Store, to compile the list of the top 10 best educational apps for children aged five and under, and six to ten years old.
The top five apps for children five and under, and areas they target:
- Khan Academy Kids – Vetted by early-childhood education experts this app is a great tool for teaching children skills development, such as reading, printing their name and counting backwards. Available in Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
- Jolly Phonics Lessons – An introduction to literacy, focusing on teaching the five key skills for reading and writing. Jolly Phonics uses teaching and memory games to aid development. Available in Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
- Hey Duggee: The Big Badge App – Children can join their favourite characters from kids TV show Hey Duggee, to learn a range of skills such as recognising colours and memorising images. Available in Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
- Starfall – This app introduces kids to a variety of subjects including, maths, literacy and music, as well as poems and fiction and non-fiction stories. Available in Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
- Hungry Caterpillar Play School – A great tool for a gradual introduction to maths, reading and mindfulness whilst offering the familiarity of characters from Eric Carle’s books. Available in Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
The top five apps for children between six and 10 are:
- Read Along by Google – Home to hundreds of stories in English, Spanish, Chinese and more, Read Along uses speech recognition to highlight when your child has made a mistake or missed a word and awards stars for words read correctly. Children can also learn words they don’t know with the help of a virtual reading buddy. Available in Google Play Store
- Youtube Kids – Youtube specifically designed for children, features age appropriate videos on a range of educational topics whilst using real feedback from children and parents to constantly improve and update. Parents can also create ‘kid profiles’ where they can tailor their child’s viewing to ‘approved only’ videos or by choosing a specific age category.
- Number Run – An educational take on Temple Run, children must quickly solve maths problems as their avatar jumps cliffs and dodges obstacles in order to reach a treasure chest. Problems range from simple addition to double figure division. Available in Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
- Seek by iNaturalist – The Pokemon Go! of the plant world. Seek encourages outdoor adventures by offering badges that can be earned by completing nature challenges, as well as a plant finder and interesting facts. Available in Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
- Barefoot World Atlas – Kids can go on a world tour from the comfort of their own home with this app. It not only offers games to help with geography skills but also provides historical information and landmarks and cultural facts. Available in Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
When looking into the effects of COVID-19 on schooling, we found studies which show that 42% of parents are concerned about the effect of the pandemic on their child’s education, with 48% admitting that their child is supplementing their school work with online resources separate from their school, 11% of whom state their child is using free, informal online tools**.
Parents who use educational apps and watch educational television shows – such as documentaries – will not only be setting a good example to their children; but research from Florida International University shows a strong link between co-using apps and increased engagement in children, suggesting that kids learn better when parents learn too*.
Greg Sigel, VP – Partnerships at DOCOMO Digital said,
“COVID-19 has caused widespread disruption across every industry and every cross-section of our society, so I think it is natural for parents to be concerned about the education of their children amidst prolonged lockdowns, school closures and remote learning becoming the norm. However there are now some very strong edtech apps at their disposal, and technology can play a vital role in shaping a child’s learning experience, even beyond the pandemic.
“With that in mind we wanted to find out which apps are proving to be the most beneficial for children outside of the regular online classes being offered by schools. Striking the right balance between being online and offline is vital but when done right the benefits can be extremely valuable to all.”