The Internet is a vast ocean of information. Well, we all knew it, but covid-19 has made it a lot more evident now. In the past few months, we preschool teachers have scrolled through hundreds of webpages trying to find resources to improve the learning experience of our little ones. The list is long and exhaustive, ranging from worksheets to videos and apps.
While the worksheets and videos may be easier to find, selecting apps can be a bit troublesome. But an app can have many benefits; it can supplement teaching, used as an assessment tool and can even be recommended to parents. With so many apps available for download, one gets spoilt for choice. However, research indicates that very few of the apps found in the educational section of app stores have evidence-based design input with demonstrated learning effectiveness. Thus choosing the right app is not a child’s play but is somewhat confusing as well. Hence, one must keep the following points in mind while clicking the ‘install’ button the next time.
Give passiveness a pass
Be it the apps or videos or anything virtual, remember a thumb rule, ‘TALK ABOUT IT’. Passive use of technology is a strict no for children. When using any app, ask children about what they have seen and how do they like it. Apps are just one of the many channels of learning, use them well and wisely!
More Math-‘E’-Matics for Preschoolers
There is clear evidence (Pitchford et al., 2018) that digital technology approaches are more beneficial for mathematics practice than spelling. Use them to strengthen the concepts taught in the class. Choose apps that encourage one to one correspondence among children and gives them varied experiences.
Refrain from Rote learning
Recent reviews by Pasek et al., (2015) of hundreds of preschooler apps labelled as educational have demonstrated that most apps target only rote academic skills, e.g., ABCs and colours. Surprised, well that’s what it is! Hence, be careful about what you pick up for the children. The best way is to install an app and test it for yourself!
An additional concern is that the formal features, i.e. bells and whistles designed to engage the child in an interactive experience may decrease the child’s comprehension or distract from social interaction during use. Sound’s complicated? Well, it is not! All you have to do is to ensure that the background music is not too loud for the child.
Now that you know how to spot the red flags in an app, we have made your work easier by curating a list of apps that we like for each of these early development areas . Keep this bookmarked for you surely don’t want to lose this one.
With hundreds of desi stories and songs, kutuki is an Indian app that gives an option of learning in languages like English, Hindi, Marathi, Telugu and Kannada. The characters ‘Kutu’ and ‘Ki’ join on a learning spree with the child and make learning contextually appropriate. The app is suitable for children in preschool and kindergarten and is available for free download on Google Play and AppStore.
Early Numeracy and Literacy
Khan Academy Kids is another app to hone the literacy, problem-solving and numerical skills for children in preschool up to grade 1. The app has our vote for it supports individualised learning for preschool children and has cute animal characters to appeal to them. What’s more, you can even track the progress of each child in your class. A novel way to do the assessment, isn’t it?
Got kids learning to write letters, let them polish their writing skills online. We suggest the Writing Wizard app that comes with alphabets, words and numbers to practice. All one has to do is to select the desired font and get started. While the basic version of the app is available for free download on your device, additional features may require in-app purchasing.
Looking for something to sharpen the math skills of children, Elmo Loves 123s can be the answer to all your prayers. The app is an engaging way to help preschoolers learn numbers, addition and subtraction. The activities are presented in a variety of ways that reinforce learning. One of the features of the app also allows teachers to track the progress of the child. The only downside of the app is that it is paid. However, all good things come at a price!
Teaching phonics to preschool-aged children can be quite a task especially during the online classes. How about using an app to help you with the same? Jolly Phonics provides resources and lesson plans to teach phonic lessons. The app comes can come handy to reiterate letter sounds, encourage word formation and practice them. Sounds like a fun way to teach phonics, well we do agree with you.
With a very little scope to go outside, the lockdown has affected the physical activity of our children. While we do agree that nothing can replace the outdoor experience for a child but one has the option of using apps for teaching some basic stretching. Our vote goes to Super Stretch Yoga that comes with hundreds of preinstalled videos to help children follow some exercise routine at home.
Now is the time to level up your teaching and try novel ways of engaging children. But do remember that with digital technology, moderation is the key. So, go ahead and try out all these apps with your students.
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— BestofSchools (@BestofSchools) June 7, 2020