Best Education Apps for Young Children

Best Education Apps for Young Children

Let’s face it: life is always getting in the way of perfect parenting. Long car rides, doctor’s appointments, and deadlines at work all prevent us from spending quality time with our children -- while simultaneously testing our little ones’ patience. Try as we may to keep them away from screens, phones, iPads, and backseat TVs are becoming an ever more tempting way to keep children happy and distracted.

But maybe we don’t have to feel ALL bad when we hand little Tommy our iPad to keep him quiet during a meeting. As it turns out, the iPad is a great learning tool for young children. The large touch screen of the iPad is excellent at promoting fine motor skills, especially when paired with educational games that feature repetition, color recognition and interaction—the key ways our toddlers learn.

Here are four such educational games that will keep your child captivated, and you guilt-free:

Little Digits—$1.99 from Cowly Owl Ltd

This app teaches finger counting for the digital age. In three features—simple counting, addition and subtraction—friendly number monsters prompt your child to place as many fingers on the iPad screen as the number they see. The app then uses touch recognition to recognize whether your child has answered correctly. And, with no in-app purchases, third-party advertising, or links to social media, you are safe to leave you little one alone with this app.

LetterSchool—$2.99 from Boreaal

This app is designed to teach your 3-7 year old handwriting through four simple, yet captivating, games per letter/number. Parents and teachers rave about this app and the progress they see in their children’s letter recognition and writing skills. The app gives you a choice between the D’Nealian, Zander-Bloser, or Handwriting without Tears methods, meaning you can tailor your children’s after-school practice to match their school’s handwriting curriculum. An additional bonus: occupational therapists highly recommend this app for older children with Autism.

Cut the Rope—Free or $3.99, by Chillingo Ltd

Chances are, your kid has already downloaded this app on all your gadgets. They love figuring out how to feed the little monster Om Nom, and have no idea that they are learning the basics of mechanical physics in the process. In the game, a piece of candy hangs on a rope above Om Nom’s head, and you must figure out how to manipulate the rope and other obstacles to make the candy land perfectly in Om Nom’s mouth. Although it is challenging (even for adults at times!), you will be surprised how quickly your child masters this game, and the principles of physics at the same time!

Monkey Preschool lunchbox—$0.99 from THUP Games

This app features a lunchbox full of games and puzzles about colors, counting, letters, matching, shapes, and spotting the difference. Your 2-5 year old will love the little monkey that jumps up and down when they get the right answer, and will quickly correct wrong answers at the monkey’s prompting. After each game/task, your child will get to choose a virtual sticker to mark his or her progress. Each game is repetitive by design, allowing your child to slowly build up the motor skills and knowledge to successfully complete the task and get the monkey jumping.

The author works for an online tutoring company and lives in San Francisco.

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