Advertising
Advertising

These 18 Smart Kids Apps Will Make You Rethink Learning and Education

These 18 Smart Kids Apps Will Make You Rethink Learning and Education

As our society is constantly shifting, screens have become a huge part of our daily lives. It has been widely publicized that screen time should be nonexistent or limited for younger kids, but for busy moms who need time to do things around the house or a much-deserved break, screens can be a lifesaver.

If you allow your kids to have screen time (many of us moms do) on an iPad or phone, why not choose an app that is both entertaining for your kids AND educational? It will keep your children’s attention while teaching them important cognitive skills.

What should you look for when deciding what app to introduce to your kids? Experts have analyzed existing research on educational interactional media for developing kids under the age of 8, and they formulated these five key criteria that you should keep in mind:[1]

  1. The activity must require active mental engagement. Aside from what the child’s hands are doing, gears in the child’s brain should be turning so that they are mentally interacting with the media: thinking, predicting, questioning, drawing connections, reflecting, etc.
  2. They must be able to focus on the learning experience without distractions in the app or in their learning environment.
  3. The children should be able to bridge the new knowledge they’re gaining to their existing knowledge and the wider world.
  4. The learning activity should involve social interaction, such as teacher feedback, class discussions or interactions among classmates.
  5. The activity should have clearly defined learning objectives that students or teachers can track and assess and that expand on past goals and build on previous learning. This concept is called scaffolding.

The following apps are great places to start. They are organized by age and cover a wide range of educational topics:

1. Shapes Toddler Preschool

    For younger kids who are ready to tackle shapes, colors, letters and more, this is a great resource to use. The layout is child-friendly and easy to figure out. There are over 30 categories to choose from, and the app uses puzzles, games and flashcards to make learning fun.

    Age: 2-5

    Price: Free

    Compatible: iOS, Android

    2. Disney Story Central

      This app offers a huge selection of books featuring your favorite Disney characters. Read-along narration is a great way to promote independent reading for your younger kids. The first four books are free! For additional books, you can purchase a monthly subscription or book tokens to expand your collection.

      Age: 2-9

      Price: Free, offers in-app purchases

      Compatible: iOS, Android

      3. Endless Alphabet

        This app uses colorful, friendly monsters to help your kids learn the alphabet and expand their vocabulary. For the more than 50 words available to learn, each one featuring an interactive puzzle and talking letters, plus short animations to explain the definition.

        Age: 3+

        Price: $8.99

        Compatible: iOS, Android

        Advertising

        4. Reading Raven

          Reading is an important skill for your kids to master, and it can be challenging and frustrating for some kids. However, this app, with self-paced lessons and fun-filled adventures makes learning to read enjoyable and exciting. They will learn how to read in no time at all!

          Age: 3-7

          Price: $3.99

          Compatible: iOS, Android

          5. Habitat

            It is crucial that kids are made aware early on of the importance of doing things that positively affect our environment and the living things within it. In this game, players adopt a polar bear and work to keep their bear healthy and alive. By playing games and performing real world tasks, kids are able to understand how to take care of the environment while having fun.

            Age: 4+

            Price: Free

            Compatible: iOS, Android

            6. Elmo Loves 123s

              If your child obsessed with Sesame Street (especially Elmo), this app will be a sure hit. It will teach your child how to count from 1 to 20, simple addition and subtraction, and number tracing. Correct answers are rewarded with videos, puzzles, and coloring pages.

              Age: 5 and under

              Price: $4.99

              Compatible: iOS, Android

              7. Sight Words

                Using the classic game of hide and seek, your kids can learn read, write, and recognize up to 320 words. In the process, they will practice important cognitive skills such as visual memorization and active listening. As an additional resource, you can download printable sight word flash cards here.

                Age: 5 and under

                Price: $2.99

                Advertising

                Compatible: iOS

                8. Kids Vocabulary, Grammar & Language

                  This is a great resource to help kids prepare for preschool and kindergarten. Using game-based learning in areas including vocabulary, listening comprehension and grammar, your kids will love using this app.

                  Age: 5 and under

                  Price: Free

                  Compatible: iOS

                  9. Fish School HD

                    Learning numbers, shapes, colors and letters is much more fun when using fish and other under the sea creatures. Songs and interactive features will keep your kids fascinated and eager to learn.

                    Age: 2-5

                    Price: Free

                    Compatible: iOS

                    10. ShipAntics: The Legend of the Kiki Beast

                      Jump aboard the ship with Amanda and Otto the Octopus and help them solve mysteries by completing educational puzzles and riddles. And if your kids are not in the mood to play, they can watch high quality cartoons using the Appisodes feature.

                      Age: 6+

                      Price: Free

                      Compatible: iOS, Android

                      11. Plants by Tinybop

                        Learn about different ecosystems and how the flora and fauna interact with each other on our amazing planet. Explore interactive scenes that depict a grassland, desert, forest, and more. This app is also available in more than 50 languages!

                        Age: 6+

                        Advertising

                        Price: $1.99

                        Compatible: iOS

                        12. Fruity Fractions

                          Sliced fruit and vibrant animations are a great way to help your kids understand how to tackle fractions. As they embark on a jungle-themed journey to help the parrots to get more tasty tropical fruit to eat, they will have to solve fraction math problems to advance.

                          Age: 6+

                          Price: $2.99

                          Compatible: iOS

                          13. Math Evolve

                            Math is an area that many kids struggle with and hate spending time on. By utilizing an arcade game style approach, your kids will have no problem spending time honing their mathematics skills. This is an excellent way for them to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division through fun interactive game play.

                            Age: 6+

                            Price: $0.99

                            Compatible: iOS

                            14. Toca Lab: Elements

                              Is your child a budding scientist? This app introduces kids to the periodic table of elements, laboratory experiments and equipment, and so much more. Encourage your child to explore their scientific interests in a safe but engaging way!

                              Age: 6+

                              Price: $3.99

                              Compatible: iOS, Android

                              15. DragonBox Big Numbers

                                Your children will be put in charge of a world filled with creatures called Nooms. They can unlock new worlds, build houses, collect resources, and more through correctly completing math problems. This app can also teach your kids how to count in multiple languages.

                                Advertising

                                Age: 6-9

                                Price: $7.99

                                Compatible: iOS, Android

                                16. Tynker: Coding for Kids

                                  Tynker uses blocks to and easy to understand aids to help kids learn how to code, starting at a basic level. The app is free to download, but a subscription is needed in order to access the mobile courses, 350+ puzzle levels, 100+ guided tutorials, and more. This app is also compatible with toys such as Sphero, Lego WeDo2.0, and the Lux lighting systems.

                                  Age: 7+

                                  Price: Free

                                  Compatible: iOS, Android

                                  17. Operation Math

                                    Every kid has wondered what it might be like to be a secret agent and go on thrilling missions to save the world. Now they can, while learning important math skills along the way. With over 100 timed missions located all over the world, there your kids will love completing these missions and you will love the learning that happens along the way.

                                    Age: 7+

                                    Price: $2.99

                                    Compatible: iOS, Android

                                    18. Stack the States

                                      Learn the U.S. states, capitals, abbreviations, and more with this silly game. Using puzzle games, maps, and stacking, your kids can work towards collecting all 50 states and becoming an expert at U.S. geography.

                                      Age: 9-11

                                      Price: $2.99

                                      Compatible: iOS, Android

                                      Screens are not our enemy and do not have to be kept strictly off-limits for young developing minds. They are tools that should be utilized sparingly, but they can be extremely effective means for teaching our kids valuable skills. Look for apps that are well-made, user-friendly, and effective at teaching your kids while keeping them entertained.

                                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                                      Reference

                                      More by this author

                                      Katie Lemons

                                      Parenting Blogger and Full-Time Working Mom

                                      14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids) Reading for Kids: 17 Reasons Why It’s Important and Where to Start 11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother 15 Insightful Parenting Books That Help Your Kids Start off a Healthy Life

                                      Trending in Restore Energy

                                      1 How to Get Deep Sleep in 5 Steps Naturally 2 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life 3 How to Deal with Stress at Work in Times of Corona 4 Benefits of Having a Pet: Why Keeping Pets Gives You Positive Energy 5 7 Signs You’re Burnt Out (And How to Bounce Back)

                                      Read Next

                                      Advertising
                                      Advertising
                                      Advertising

                                      Published on July 23, 2020

                                      11 Signs You’re an Overprotective Parent (And What to Do About It)

                                      11 Signs You’re an Overprotective Parent (And What to Do About It)

                                      Have you ever followed your child around the playground? They may have been a toddler and you were worried they would take the wrong step and fall off the jungle gym. Therefore, you followed your toddler around, keeping them within arm’s reach so that you could prevent them from falling or having an accident.

                                      I have been that parent at the playground in the past. With twin boys who had no fear as toddlers, I would follow them onto playground equipment because I was concerned for their safety.

                                      After a few months of doing this, I stopped. I came to realize that children need to learn through their own experiences. They will fall, but they will also learn how to avoid danger and make calculated judgments about risks through their experiences. If I was always there to stop them from falling, they wouldn’t learn to stop themselves.

                                      They had to learn things on their own. Of course, as a parent, it is still my responsibility to not place them in situations where they could be terribly injured.

                                      For example, we started at playgrounds that were intended for children under the age of five. We didn’t move up to the big playgrounds until they were old enough and aware of their behaviors and the risks involved in playground play activities.

                                      Why Parents Become Overprotective

                                      The intention of overprotective parenting is well-meaning. These types of parents are highly concerned about their children’s safety and decision making. Their ultimate goal is to protect their child from harm. Parents should be concerned about the safety and well-being of their children.

                                      However, on the flip side, parents should also be teaching their children about risk and responsibility. Those lessons are best taught through life experience. If we are always following behind our children, ready to catch them at a moment’s notice, then we aren’t allowing them to learn about risk and responsibility.

                                      Unger, a researcher on overprotective parenting, suggests that parents should allow children to participate in activities on their own that are considered low-risk.[1] This means allowing children to engage in activities on their own that provide “manageable amounts of risk and responsibility.”

                                      Unger cited that parents have become increasingly more protective of their children and are much more watchful of their children’s activities than previous generations.

                                      The problem with being an overprotective parent is that the child misses out on the opportunity to build responsible behavior skills, build autonomy, and develop self-esteem. Their confidence can be undermined when mom or dad are always watching and guiding their behavior.

                                      They can develop a sense that they are unable to make their own good decisions because they are never allowed to do so in life. Their confidence and self-esteem are hindered when they aren’t allowed to do things on their own without their parents hovering or watching over them.

                                      What Are the Signs of an Overprotective Parent?

                                      Parents with overly protective tendencies think that they are helping their child. Their goal is to protect their child, but it goes to the extreme. Below are some ways that a parent can be overly protective.

                                      Advertising

                                      This type of behavior can end up harming their child’s development when one or more of these behaviors is present. There are likely other ways that a parent can be overprotective of their child, as this list is not comprehensive.

                                      These are examples so you can assess your behavior to determine if you need to loosen up overly protective parenting habits.

                                      1. You choose your child’s friends or direct them toward friendships with particular children.
                                      2. You don’t allow them to do activities on their own. For example, not allowing them to walk the dog in front of your home even though you live in a safe neighborhood and could even watch them from the front window.
                                      3. You are constantly monitoring your child. For example, you show up at their sports practices often to check in and see how they are doing or you go online to check their grades every week to ensure that they don’t have any missing work in any classes. If they do have missing work, you make sure that they get it completed and turned in before their final grade can be affected.
                                      4. You prevent them from making mistakes when you can see that they are going to make a low-risk mistake. For example, not allowing your five-year-old to put ketchup on their pancakes because you know they are going to dislike it and ruin their breakfast. You won’t allow them to chose to make such a mistake because you know that they will cry and get upset and you want to prevent them from becoming emotionally upset.
                                      5. You don’t allow them to go to friend’s homes without you.
                                      6. Sleepovers at other homes or camps are never allowed during their childhood.
                                      7. You drill them with questions about their life when they are out of your sight, such as wanting to know about all the details of their school day every day when you pick them up from school.
                                      8. You guide them to the extent that they are prevented from failing. For example, not allowing your teen to try out for the basketball team because you know that they will not make the cut.
                                      9. You make their decisions for them. For example, you don’t allow them to choose whether they can walk to school or ride the bus. You drive them and do not allow for any decision outside of this because you want to keep them safe.
                                      10. You are always volunteering to serve in their school classroom or chaperone the school trips because you want to “keep an eye on what is going on in your child’s class”.
                                      11. You do not allow them to have secrets or privacy. For example, they are not allowed to have a locked diary that you do not read or you don’t allow them to lock their bedroom door ever.

                                      Why Being Overprotective Is Not a Good Idea

                                      Kids learn from natural consequences. If they are not allowed to have natural consequences because their parent is continually protecting them from failure and harm, their development is being hindered.

                                      For example, let’s look at a child named Sally who is 13. She is a child who is overly managed by her parents and is not allowed to go to sleepovers or even go to another friend’s home. Her parents are worried about stranger danger and what can happen if they are not with their child.

                                      Sally is allowed to have friends at her home, but her parents are always watching the kids. Whenever Sally and her friends begin to disagree, the argument is squelched before the children can even begin to work things out between themselves because Sally’s parents will intervene and solve the problem.

                                      Sally is never alone with friends outside of school because her parents are always present. The presence of her parents in her socialization is hindering her development.

                                      She doesn’t know how to work out disagreements between her peers because she has never been allowed the opportunity to even try. Her social skills are lacking because parents intervene to direct her behavior while she is with her friends.

                                      Kids Need Space and Time

                                      Kids need space and time to be independent while they are children. If Sally were to be left alone with her friends, her friends would eventually push back at her bossy behavior when her parents are not present.

                                      However, because Sally’s parents are always present she gets away with being overly-bossy to her friends. She is not learning about the natural consequences of her bossiness but someday will when it may be difficult to change her behaviors as she is older in more set in her ways.

                                      It is easier to learn through natural consequences at a young age. Sally will likely end up going to therapy as an adult because she can’t keep friendships intact. Her bossy behaviors and lack of awareness have led to her having severed friendships repeatedly as a young adult.

                                      She will have to work with a therapist to uncover the reason why she is losing friends and then work to change her behavior to learn better ways to act towards her friends in the future.

                                      Effects of Overprotection

                                      There are a variety of effects of overprotective parenting. It is often dependent on the methods the parent utilizes and the extent of the overprotective behavior.

                                      Advertising

                                      For example, let’s look at Tina who is a girl age 10. She wants to run and participate in her school’s after-school competitive track program. However, she is not allowed to participate in after school activities because her parents are worried that she will be exposed to boys and may start having relationships with the opposite sex too young.

                                      Another concern is that a boy may “take advantage” of their daughter, so they want to protect her from being exposed to boys outside of school and their supervision.

                                      The problem with this is that Tina is missing out on participating in a sports activity that could help her develop friendships. She is also missing out on the opportunities associated with being a part of a team, working hard physically to compete, and developing sportsmanship skills.

                                      Her parents are well-meaning, but their over-protection is preventing her from participating in a sports activity that she deeply desires to engage in.

                                      There are other effects of overprotective parenting. Below are some examples.

                                      Examples of Overprotective Parenting

                                      This list is not comprehensive, as every parenting situation and family is unique. However, this list can help provide some insight into the detrimental effects that overprotective parenting can cause.

                                      1. Lack of Self-Esteem Development

                                      If children are not allowed to try things on their own, they cannot build self-confidence and self-esteem.

                                      2. Lack of Autonomy

                                      If a child is always accustomed to having a parent around and supervising their behavior, they can become dependent on the decision making of their parents because they are never allowed to be alone or do things alone.

                                      3. Anxiety

                                      A child who is never allowed to try to do things on their own can become anxious when they are finally allowed to try things out on their own. They worry about making mistakes or failing because they have continually had a parent to help them avoid mistakes and failure.

                                      4. Lack of Responsibility

                                      When parents are always helping and guiding their children to an extreme, children will fail to develop their own responsibility skills. If they are never held responsible for anything, how can they develop a sense of responsibility?

                                      5. People-Pleasing Tendencies

                                      Youniverse explained that children who have overprotective parents who constantly direct their children’s behavior end up seeking the approval of those in their life.[2] These children will grow up accustomed to someone always telling them what the “right behavior” looks like.

                                      If they don’t have that praise or comfort of someone saying they did things right, they can become anxious or depressed. They become people-pleasers who seek the appraisal of others.

                                      Advertising

                                      6. Risky Behavior

                                      When children are raised in an overly protective home, they often engage in risky behavior when the reigns are lifted. They haven’t experienced the failures associated with low-risk situations at a younger age because of their overly protective parents.

                                      Therefore, when they get older, access to high-risk situations becomes more easily accessible, and without understanding high risk versus low-risk situations, they engage without the wisdom of previous experiences.

                                      Because of their inexperience with risks in general, they may engage in high risk because they are unaware of consequences.

                                      7. Diminished Development Regarding Fear, Social Skills, and Coping Skills

                                      Psychology Today explains that children with overprotective parents have developmental issues, such as not being able to deal with stress and poor social skills.[3]

                                      For example, a child who isn’t allowed to play on a playground because the parent wants to protect their child from injury is prevented from learning about risk-taking on the playground and the bumps and bruises from consequences.

                                      Such a child may grow up to either having too much fear because it was instilled by their parents or have no fear because they have no concept of high-risk versus low-risk behavior.

                                      8. Lack of Immunity

                                      The Psychology Today article also explained that children who have overly protective parents that do not allow exposure to germs can become children who have a compromised immune system. Exposure to germs as children is needed for them to develop a healthy immune system naturally.

                                      When parents are disinfecting everything the child encounters and not allowing exposure to germs (e.g., not allowing them to go to a petting zoo or to play in the sandbox because of the germs in those places), they can be stunting their child’s ability to develop their immune system.

                                      9. Control Freaks

                                      Children who have been parented by control freaks learn this behavior from their parents. Parents are the primary role model of behavior for their children. If children see their parents acting as though they must have control over others and every situation at all times, then they too will learn to behave in this same manner.

                                      What to Do If You Are an Overprotective Parent

                                      If after reading this content you feel that you may be an overprotective parent, there is hope. You can change.

                                      It begins with loosening the reigns of control over your child in a calculated and reasonable manner. Allowing for low-risk behaviors and the consequences involved can help your child become more independent.

                                      There is definitely a balance to protective versus overprotective parenting. Allowing for activities and exposure to experiences that are low-risk is a good way to start.

                                      Advertising

                                      For example, allowing your child to play on age-appropriate playground equipment (without following them) is a good first step. They will experience some bumps and bruises, but this is a part of normal development and learning about consequences.

                                      You will want to research authoritative parenting methods if you feel you are an overprotective parent. Overprotective parents tend to be authoritarian parents.

                                      Here is a LifeHack article I previously wrote about authoritarian parenting, so you can understand the drawbacks to this parenting method: Authoritarian Parenting.

                                      Authoritative parenting is not control-based parenting. It involves teaching consequences naturally, allowing age-appropriate decision-making, and having conversations with children rather than dictating for ultimate control and compliance.

                                      MSU Extension provides some great guidelines for authoritative parenting.[4] Below are some of the behaviors they described with authoritative parenting methods:

                                      • Provide reasonable, age-appropriate expectations for children.
                                      • Stress and anxiety for children can have positive outcomes, as they are allowed to experience these feelings in small doses as children. They can then build their coping skills and ability to deal with stress and anxiety through experience.
                                      • Encourage independence, as it helps children build their confidence and self-esteem.
                                      • Allowing for failures when they are young helps them learn how to pick themselves back up and try again. Developing this ability at a young age regularly will help prepare them for bigger failures when they are older, such as breakups, failed classes, or losing a job.

                                      Final Thoughts

                                      It is never too late to work on our parenting skills. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, therefore, we can always be working on improving our parenting methods.

                                      We all want our children to be successful, happy, and competent as adults. It does not happen overnight. Parenting is a continual process of trying daily to help our children live and learn through their own life experiences.

                                      If we try to protect them every step of the way, then they are not being allowed to truly experience life.

                                      Allow for age-appropriate experiences and allow for failures so that they can learn how to pick themselves back up and try again.

                                      More Tips on Effective Parenting

                                      Featured photo credit: Sue Zeng via unsplash.com

                                      Reference

                                      Read Next