EDUCATIONAL APPS: 6 FEATURES THAT TRULY HELP KIDS LEARN
How To Determine Whether an Educational App Will Truly Help Your Child Learn
Today, there are over 80,000 ‘educational’ apps on the market.
Developers and marketers of these apps know that parents want their kid’s media time to be ‘digitally nutritious’, and use that to their advantage… Of course a parent is more likely to let their child download and play with an educational app than a silly, mind-numbing game.The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently acknowledged that the educational app market is diluted; only a fraction of the apps in this category really provide kids with quality learning experiences.According to Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, an expert on child and infant development, more parents should be concerned about this issue. ‘Many apps marketed as ‘educational’ are basically the equivalent of sugary foods… At best, most of the apps will do no harm; at worst they add even more distraction to children’s deeply distracting lives.’
The first line of defense in preventing your kids from wasting time with these unproductive apps is knowing how to weed out the good ones…
These 6 key features will help you to determine whether an app is providing a quality learning experience for your child:
1) It Requires Thoughtful InteractionsWatch your child use the application and observe the interactions it requires.Apps that call for simple swipes, taps, or just watching the screen are not engaging enough, and don’t challenge your child to think or solve problems. If the interactions seem repetitive at all and your child does not stop between steps to critically think, it is likely this app isn’t very educational.
2) It Sustains Commitment to the TasksA lot of popular educational apps developed for kids are busy and flashy. They make loud noises and use virtual stickers or badges to reward children for completing a level or task.According to research, however, it is important to reward children in ways that encourage them to want to learn more and spark a passion for the task and subject on hand, for example by providing new information.
If your child is playing with educational apps that seem distracting and aren’t sustaining attention and commitment to the assignments, they may be worth abandoning.
3) It is Socially InclusiveWhile not all great educational apps are socially inclusive, research proves that children learn best in socially engaging scenarios that encourage conversation, collaboration and even competition.
Finding an application that allows you, as a parent, to be involved in your children’s digital learning experience is ideal. Not only will you be able to help your child engage with the material at hand, you will also be able to elaborate on concepts that seem difficult to grasp, answer questions and use screen time as an opportunity to spend time together bonding.
4) It Doesn’t Tell Your Child What to DoApplications that give explicit instructions and helpful hints make learning too easy for your child by filling in blanks. Instead, look for educational apps that encourage kids to learn through guided exploration.
4) It Forms Relatable ConnectionsNew concepts can be very difficult for children to grasp without any connection to their known world.If you are teaching your child about numbers or basic math, the symbol 4 holds absolutely no meaning if it doesn’t relate to knowledge they already have. Let’s say your child really likes trucks or animals, the fact that a truck has 4 wheels or a dog has 4 legs gives that number aconnection to something they understand and are interested in, and by default, it gives the number four an actual value that they can grasp and understand. Or, if you are looking at fractions, explaining the division of units with familiar (and yummy!) foods like pizza or pie can make the new ideas more easily digestible, no pun intended.
6) It Mimics Live InteractionThis point is important mostly for infants under the age of two.The APP has received quite a lot of backlash for their statements that screen media not be encouraged for toddlers. While parents have (rightfully) claimed that it is virtually impossible to avoid screen time in this day and age, the APP’s stance is based on evidence that at this age, interaction is very important for healthy mental and emotional development. At this age, apps will do very little to form connections.Research has found that infants up to 24 months old learn from live presentations, and less effectively from videos. ‘Contingent interaction’, or two-way social exchange, is an essential ingredient to learning at this stage in development, so the more applications they use to mimic an interaction (think live video chat), the more likely your infant will learn something valuable.
One of the hardest parts of being a responsible digital parent is managing to circumnavigate all of the content your child interacts with on their mobile devices. While there are a ton of great educational apps for kids, it is important to be educated on how to filter through the countless apps out the to find the ones that truly provide value to your child and family!
Interested in helping your children develop healthy digital habits?Download the free Ourpact application today! It is as easy as setting schedules for when your children can access Internet and apps, and we do the rest!
Image Source: [HongKiat]Tags: best education apps, best educational apps, children’s educational apps, educational apps, how to find good educational apps, learning apps for kids