Parents know that apps can rear wily children into silent screen submission within seconds— savvy young fingers swiping, contentedly interacting with phone or tablet. But some fear early exposure to such technology may alter their child’s learning and development or worse, cause addiction and emotional distress. Certainly, not all apps are created equal, but for early learning prior to a classroom setting, several new apps are sure to encourage technological intelligence while preparing young ones for school. Common Sense Media education blogger August Deshais recommends five teacher-approved applications specifically designed to help set the stage for academic success.
- Reading Rainbow. The popular PBS show is back in a new way, offering a library of books according to a child’s preferred genres. This app can read books aloud or allow more advanced users to read the book themselves. (Free/five books; or $10/month, $30/six months, $50/year)
- Letter School. Finally, an app that teaches writing letters, not typing them. Through animation, kids write letters and engage with objects to reinforce letter recognition. The app can also be used to practice writing numbers. ($2.99)
- Endless Alphabet. This vocab-focused, ABC app is full of engaging animations meant to expand a preschooler’s vocabulary by fostering letter recognition and phonics. Words are defined through fun cartoon scenes. (Free – $6.99)
- Memory Train. This fast-paced memory game helps your child rein in their focus—a great skill to build prior to entering the classroom. Games focus on deciphering colors, shapes and patterns and building memory through on-screen prompts. ($1.99)
- TallyTots. This number recognition and counting app encourages early math-skill development by asking users to count along while getting rewarded for participation through interactive animated activities. ($2.99) iBi