After quarantine, many aspects of our lives have moved online. Both children and parents began to use mobile applications and other digital media more often than before the pandemic. Parents have realized that applications can be very useful in teaching children and developing their various skills.
When it comes to choosing educational programs for children, parents may be confused: there are thousands of such applications on the market. However, the educational value of many of them is questionable: not all programs are based on research and really beneficial.
Some applications can still be used for educational purposes. But choosing the right program for your child is not an easy task. In this article we will consider what you need to pay attention to when choosing a program for preschoolers.
Needle in a haystack
Preschoolers can learn with touchscreen phones. At the same time, older preschool children learn better with the help of applications than younger preschoolers.
Mobile applications can be used to develop language skills. One study found that children who learned new words for 10 to 12 minutes a day used the program to increase their vocabulary in a short period of time.
Such applications often present language material in the form of cards – without context. However, in this study, children learned the meaning of new words in a play story. The game used colorful images, but did not use animation and sound effects, so that the child is not distracted from learning words.
After 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds used the language skills supplement for 20 minutes a day for 10 weeks, their literacy increased significantly. The application used a series of interactive lessons on writing letters, the ratio of sounds and letters, the correct pronunciation of words and more. The application used an animated character who explained the material. Children were regularly given feedback on their learning achievements, which motivated them to continue learning the material.
Another study found that most of the apps listed in the Google Play catalog as educational did not help children develop skills. Researchers have rated the educational potential of such applications lower than users.
The study used criteria that assessed applications for preschoolers in terms of their learning potential. Researchers analyzed 44 popular applications for children and concluded that most of them do not develop skills enough. Even the most popular programs cannot guarantee quality training.
How to make the right choice
So, how to choose a learning application for your child? Consider the 4 main criteria for choosing a supplement for preschoolers.
- The purpose of training. For a curriculum to be truly educational, it must have a clear learning objective. Preschool applications should develop early skills, such as learning sounds, letters, numbers, emotions, and so on.
- Problem solving. The app should offer children tasks that encourage them to think and be creative. For example, a learning task might be to find an item that is missing from a template, or swap letters to make a word.
- Children achieve significant success when they receive meaningful, concrete and constructive feedback. It helps them learn. Feedback can be presented in the form of audio messages, animations (for example, the application may have a character who interacts with the child).
- Plot line. Content in the form of a fascinating story is more useful in teaching preschoolers. For example, in the application, the characters can go in search of treasure, and during this adventure, the child must perform a number of tasks.
If the application meets the criteria, it is suitable for teaching preschoolers. If you decide to use applications to develop your child’s skills, remember that your role in this process is also important. Explain to the child how the application works and how to perform educational tasks – this way you will further promote learning.