Mobile apps, programs, websites, games, social networks... where is a parent to start?
Modern technology, especially mobile, has without question forever changed the way we educate our children and prepare them for the future. In the age of ever-present tech, knowing how and when to rely on educational websites, mobile learning apps, computer games, social networks, and the other jewels in the kaleidoscope that is electronic learning can be overwhelming.
These resources are important tools for moms and dads who want their children to succeed in the modern, globally connected society. We put together a short list of a few of the best-in-class options for you to consider sharing with your children to expand their educational opportunities.
There are hundreds of websites out there designed to help your child learn about anything they desire. Here are three effective, well-designed, and impressive sites to explore.
1. Khan Academy
Khan Academy may be one of the greatest teaching resources ever made available to kids, parents, and teachers. Entirely free, run as a not-for-profit, and supported by organizations that are at the forefront of education technology like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Google, Khan Academy started as an online mathematics education site. Now, it has been expanded to cover just about anything you or your kids could want to learn!
Khan Academy designs custom learning plans tailored to your child's needs based upon tutorials and pre-tests, then guides them expertly through subjects, offering them the chance to win badges as rewards for completing units. It really doesn’t get better than this for web-based learning!
Starfall is another of those special sites that you can depend on as a parent to do a great job educating your child while entertaining him or her. Founded in 2002, Starfall has been around longer than most, and has proved itself time and again as a leader in teaching phonics basics online. Like Khan Academy, Starfall is free and contains no ads, although there is a store that sells supplementary materials. Aimed at younger children, Starfall starts with letters and builds children’s skills up all the way to longer, more difficult materials like comics, plays, and more.
3. Nat Geo Kids
National Geographic is a name that has been linked with informative, engaging, educational content for more than 100 years. Good thing for our children that they have taken it upon themselves to continue providing parents with top notch resources in the technological age by migrating online. Especially useful is Nat Geo Kids, which will soon become your child’s favorite way to learn about geography, science, animals, and more through fun games and interactive educational experiences.
Educational websites are great, but what about intelligently designed apps that you and your child can use anywhere, at any time, to supplement their education? Just as with, websites there are more great apps out there than we can count, but here are three of our favorites.
1. Green Eggs and Ham
Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss, is one of the most popular children’s books of all time, and for good reason. First published 55 years ago, the visual absurdity of the story has engaged millions of kids in reading and has taught them valuable lessons about fear of the unknown. Now in it’s updated form as an iPhone, iPad, and Android app, the Green Eggs and Ham ebook highlights words as children read along with the narrator and allows readers to touch the objects on the “pages” to bring up associated words, extending the learning experience enormously.
2. Ladybird: I’m Ready For Phonics
Want to use an app to teach your child phonics? Don’t look any farther than Ladybird: I’m Ready For Phonics. Taking kids through twelve interactive adventures through outer space with “Captain Comet,” this app is real fun and really helps kids learn pronunciation, letters, and difficult words. Learning is done via the synthetic phonics method and kids can also watch videos of children speaking difficult words then record their own voice to see how it compares.
Learning should never be constrained to only one language. Duolingo is well known as the go-to app for those looking to get acquainted with foreign languages. It is free and suitable for older elementary school students all the way up to adults, so don’t be shy to use it yourself to brush up on that French you haven’t used since high school! Offering a super interactive and engaging way to learn languages, this app starts with basic skills and builds your child up from there, testing their hearing, memory, and speaking skills. What’s more your child will learn not only the language but about world geography and culture via Duolingo’s lessons.
Online education experiences are not just useful, optional things for parents to supplement their kids’ real world learning with. In today’s globally connected world, children without computer skills are at a distinct disadvantage to their peers that will only grow as they age and explore a world we could never have imagined when we were young. However, no matter how great a resource a website or app is, parents must monitor and limit the time their kids spend online and in front of screens. Be sure that your kids learn to have fun being creative and active offline, where decisions are their own and not guided by a computer program. Even better, put a real book in their hands as often as possible - theres nothing in the whole world like a physical book to spark a child’s imagination.
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