Many schools around the country are closed due to COVID-19 and, with that, children have time on their hands — a lot of time. Plenty of parents have tried to do home schooling and quickly realized that it’s not as easy as it seems. (And also, that teachers everywhere deserve a raise.)
That’s where educational apps come in. These apps can make learning fun, increasing the odds that your child will sit still for more learning…and give you a break already.
Many, many parents are turning to educational apps for help with schooling. One popular app is Khan Academy, which has free online courses for kids to use on their own or with the direction of teachers. That company has seen a massive jump in usage, according to a Khan Academy spokesperson. “Khan Academy supported 18 million learners per month before the crisis,” the spokesperson said. “Since the school closures began, time spent on the site is approximately 2.5 times normal, student and teacher registrations are up roughly six times from this period last year, and parent registration is up 20 times from normal.”
“Many child life specialists recommend using educational applications with children, in accordance with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, especially during a time of isolation and limited access to school,” Melanie Eisenhower, MS, CCLS, a child life specialist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Some of the benefits of using educational content during screen time include opportunities to absorb new ideas and areas of learning, increased socialization and connection with peers, and access to information about health and safety.”
Apps can also help give kids structure at a time when life is completely different from normal, Kelly Foy, MS, CCLS, a child life specialist at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We know that children can have difficulties coping when their routine is disrupted and schools being closed is certainly a change in routine,” she says. “While most schools are continuing to do virtual learning, educational apps are a great way to supplement that learning in a way that is already familiar to children.”
And, of course, educational apps can help keep your child entertained in a constructive way while you work. “A lot of people need kids to be able to do something on their own without standing over their child, supervising every little thing they do,” Gina Posner, MD, board certified pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif., tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Educational apps are one way to do that.”
Apps do count as screen time, but Posner says it’s OK to be a little more relaxed than usual about the rules right now. “I’m much more lax with my own kids about screen time right now,” Posner says. “But it’s important to differentiate between good screen time, like educational apps, and bad screen time, like watching cartoons. Good screen time should get a lot more play.”
As for what to look for in an app, it’s a good idea to use the same resources you would with an app you’d download for yourself, psychologist John Mayer, PhD, author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Look for the rating, how many people rated it, and who the source is, and do some extra Googling and see what is said about it on the web,” he says. You can even message your child’s teacher for their suggestions, Mayer adds.
There are a lot of educational apps out there to choose from and it can be hard to know where to start. Experts say these are worth looking into:
Khan Academy has educational tools to help elementary-aged children up through post-grads. The app uses interactive exercises and in-depth articles about math, science, economics, humanities, computer science, and more. Simply select your child’s grade and take it from there.
Created by learning company Scholastic, this app walks younger children through game-based learning that helps them learn to read and flex their reading skills. The app has more than 80 hours of different options and thousands of micro-actions to build and improve reading skills.
Duolingo is a favorite for kids who are learning a second language. It offers up games and lessons in more than 30 languages (including Spanish and French), lets your child strive for goals, and even does fun little tests to see how they’re doing.
ABC Mouse is an award-winning app that teaches reading, math, art, music, and more subjects to kids between the ages of two and eight. The app has fun songs your child can use to learn new concepts and interactive games to further learning. You and your child can also track their progress as they learn.
Quick Math Jr. is designed for kids aged 3 to 7, and covers the foundations of math, including counting, addition and subtraction, place value, and writing numbers. The app features 12 games aligned with international math curriculums, and options to answer questions in multiple choice or through handwriting. The app also features fun monsters to cheer your child on as they learn.
Let your child dive into an educational topic with Brainpop’s educational videos. Brainpop has a slew of educational videos on things like rainforests, Mozart, and food allergies. The videos are followed by short quizzes to help reiterate what your child learned.