Early Childhood Home Learning Environment Applications: Tips for Parents
Many apps are labeled “educational,” but parents should check that this is the case as there are variations in quality and content.
The following questions can help you choose apps for your child. They are based on the criteria used by the Department of Education to identify high quality applications for young children and reflect the results of numerous research studies on what works best for early learning applications for children. .
How educational is the app?
- Are the educational objectives of the application clear? What types of learning goals do you think are addressed when your child plays with the app. Read the statutory framework for the early childhood founding stage.
- Is your child having fun but still learning something new?
- Does the app encourage both play and creativity for your child?
- Are the activities structured so that you can see how your child is building on things they already know? For example, app activities may get more difficult as they play it.
- If you can find out, see if the app has been tested in academic research or has received advice from an education expert. It’s worth researching who did it or who was consulted.
In-app support for learning and development
- Does the app provide assistance to children when they are stuck? For example, onscreen prompts or via voiceover and audio.
- Does the app provide useful feedback to the child? For example, letting them know when they are doing well, or if they need another chance.
- Is the application easy to navigate for the child, to facilitate his learning?
Interaction with others and the outside world
Not all apps are designed to support interaction with others, as they can instead focus on standalone use.
- Does the app encourage your child to interact with other people or virtual characters while playing the activities, if applicable?
- Does the app provide feedback to an adult or older assistant, so they can support your child’s learning?
- Does the app clearly indicate how your data / your child’s data is collected and used? Please review government guidelines for child safety online.
- Is the app fun and exciting to use, engaging your child over a period of time or across a variety of games?
- Does the app offer a variety of features and types of activities, if applicable?
- Does the app allow for personalization, for example, can the child insert their name, photos etc. ?
Design and functionality
- Is there a clear menu or a home button?
- Is the app well designed and appealing to children?
- Is the app free from stereotypes, for example around gender, race and disability, but also other stereotypes?
- Does the app allow parents to adjust settings?
- Are there any in-app ads or internet links behind a parental barrier, for example with a hard math sum?
The first question most parents ask themselves is, “How long should I let my child use an app?” “
There is no simple answer to this question, because every child is an individual and every context is different. If your child is using an app and it seems to offer valuable learning opportunities, you shouldn’t worry too much about time, within reason – young children should have a varied diet of activities each day, including physical activity.
If your child spends long periods of time using apps of limited quality or of a repetitive nature, you should limit the time spent on them.
When you download an app for your child, first take some time to use it yourself, so you can familiarize yourself with it and help them if they are having trouble using it. As they use it, if you can’t use it with them, try to keep an eye on what they are doing to make sure they aren’t frustrated or lost in the app. .
For young children, learning is best supported by external interactions with adults, so it would be good if you found the time to use apps with them. Even just 10 minutes of doing an activity together is beneficial and talking about what they are playing or learning. If this is not possible due to your daily demands, then it will be helpful to talk to your child at a different time about the apps they are using and show that you are interested in their learning.
There are other helpful tips for parents of young children on using apps: