Kids today are far more exposed to technology than ever before. With the summer holidays on their way, you can expect to see fewer kids playing in the park and riding their bikes and more kids glaring at their video games, computers, mobile phones and iPads. There are obvious downsides to this increased technologisation of childhood; there is no doubt that parents should strictly limit the time that their child spends in front of a screen each day. But it is not all doom and gloom. While new technologies may have negative side effects, they also offer valuable opportunities, particularly for your child’s education. Many teachers and education experts are coming to recognise that tablets such as the iPad, if used correctly, can play a valuable role in engaging students in their education. If your child is going to spend a large portion of their holidays playing on an iPad, wouldn’t you prefer they be doing something that will expand their minds, ignite their curiosity and put them in a better position to succeed at school next year? If so, check out my list of 6 great educational apps for the summer holidays. I have arranged them by recommended age to make sure you can find the best match for your child!
For Early Primary Students:
1. Tell Time – Little Matchups Game
This app is for younger kids who are learning to tell the time. It uses colourful animations and friendly characters to teach young kids how to read clocks in a fun and engaging way. Even better, it could easily be a great way to keep a Prep or Grade 1 child entertained while out shopping or visiting friends.
2. rED Writing – Learn to Write
This is the only app currently on iTunes that teaches children how to write letters and numbers using the Australian education approved fonts. If your child is still mastering the fine art of writing, then this is the app for them. This app is especially useful on the summer holidays, because this is the time when students are most likely to forget all of their valuable handwriting skills. rED Writing will ensure that when February comes, your child can still write their letters and numbers well.
For Primary Students:
Description: Planets is a free interactive 3D guide to our solar system. Children can easily navigate their way between the planets, learn interesting facts about each one and get an impression of the scale and magnitude of our solar system. This app is a great way to get kids excited about space. Combine it with a toy telescope under the Christmas tree or a trip to a planetarium or Scienceworks, and you’re sure to have an avid astronomer on your hands.
5. Comic Life
One of the greatest benefit of new technology is that it empowers kids to express their creative side more than every before. Comic Life is a photo comic creation app. It allows kids to take photos of themselves, friends and family and turn them into a full comic narrative, with speech balloons, photo filters, templates, shapes, shadows and effects. The finished comics can even be used as cheap but personalised Christmas presents for family. The great thing about this app is that it won’t even seem like an “educational” app; your child might not even know that they are learning anything. Nevertheless, the ability to come up with and tell a story in an organised, creative and expressive manner is a valuable skill for students of all ages.
For Primary and Early High School Students:
4. Factor Samurai
Factor Samurai is a great way to learn times tables. You play as the samurai whose sacred duty is to cut all the numbers down to their prime factors. The game-play is similar to the popular “Fruit Samurai” game, but players are required to use their times tables skills as well as their reflexes. The ability to factorise large numbers quickly and accurately is a skill that will help your child from primary school to VCE; and if they can have fun while learning how to do so, everybody wins!
6. Geoboard, by The Math Learning Center
The Geoboard is a tool for exploring a variety of mathematical topics introduced in the higher years of Primary school and early years of High school. The app is great because it allows students to physically explore and interact with various areas of geometry. Students stretch bands around pegs to form line segments and polygons and make discoveries about perimeter, area, angles, congruence, fractions, and more.
Of course, these are only a few of the hundreds of education apps out there. Feel free to explore and find a program that is well suited to your child’s interest and areas of difficulty. The summer holidays are certainly not meant to be rigorous period of study, but if you can get your child engaged and excited about their education while they are relaxing and having fun (and if you can find a healthy balance between screen-based games, fresh air and exercise) then it’s a win-win!