Apps that keep your kids learning

RVA Parenting: Apps that keep your kids learning

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It’s easy to do when your kids or grandkids are acting up: you grab your phone. Or, maybe you give them an iPad at the restaurant to keep them busy while you eat your dinner, and talk to the other grownups. If the parenting guilt is setting in, you’re not alone. But, we’re here to help with some apps the experts recommend that will also keep your kids learning.

It seems like those devices are everywhere these days, and little kids know just how to use them, which is sometimes, a challenge for grownups.

“I think the volume of what you can acquire is so huge that parents really need a lot of help in terms of what’s the good stuff?" said Christine Elgersma, Senior Editor of Parent Education at Common Sense.

We reached out to the experts at Common Sense Media because they’ve compiled a list of best apps for kids and families, and we wanted to tap into that resource for you.

“One of the things that I tell parents the most is that an experience that a kid can have off screen, generally doesn’t make for the best apps,” said Elgersma. “The best apps make for an experience that a kid can only have on screen.”

So think about it this way, a kid can trace a letter on paper or an iPad. But, a pen and paper can’t make a letter morph into an animal. The right iPad app, can.

“Metamorphabet adds in animation. So every time a kid taps an “A" it will change and have antlers, or it will change into an antelope or it will change into something else.” said Elgersma. "So, it sort of makes that letter come alive in a way that can’t happen off screen.”

The pros say those memorable moments, help our kids learn. Our expert with Common Sense says to watch out for the free apps, unless they’re from sources like PBS Kids. You can check out a list HERE.

It warns parents of violence or sexual content, identifies learning moments, and gives an age grid, based on child development, so you know if it’s a good fit for your child.

“For little kids, I would say Think Rolls is a really cool puzzle app that keeps also adapting to what they’re doing," said Elgersma. "Tunetastic is a great storytelling app…can animate them with different characters.”

And for your bigger kids?

“Wizard School is a great app. It’s open exploration but in the form of videos and activities that kids can look at. The Robot Factory by Tinybop encourages iterations so kids can build a robot and test it to see what it does and then go back and fix it.”

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