Children love summer vacation and the long school-free days. However, parents often find themselves in a quandary. Without taking a ‘vacation’ from their work and hectic schedules, parents have to become creative to ensure their kids engage in positive activities. Planning a constructive, enjoyable and educative experience for children can be cumbersome (and sometimes impossible) for parents facing tight work deadlines. Many times you end up feeling guilty at having to leave the children at home to entertain themselves on mindless television programs and computer games.
In fact, Time Magazine ran an article in 2010 making a case against vacation time. It pointed out the disadvantages of inactivity, isolation and boredom that children face during holidays. Children with access to high-quality experiences keep exercising their minds and bodies at summer camp, family vacations, going to museums and libraries and attending enrichment classes. Those that don’t, languish in front of glowing screens. Deprived of healthy stimulation, these kids lose a significant amount of what they learn during the school year. Educators have termed this as ‘summer learning loss’ and data shows that it can put your child behind by as much as three grade levels by the time she reaches high school.
However, technology today offers an easy solution to this situation. There are plenty of learning apps available on the market that engage children positively. These apps are available for both the android and the ios platforms and can be run on any smartphone or tablet.
One great, free learning app is pbskids. It contains games and videos of popular characters like Cat in the Hat, Super Why and Curious George. Aimed at children from 2-8 years it teaches science, literacy, numeracy and reading through interactive games. Moreover, parents can play these games with their children, leading to some special bonding time!
Additionally, babble.com has compiled a list of 50 best apps from 2012 for kids. Their top ten educational apps cover everything from vocabulary to mathematics and geography. They also have a list of literacy apps which contain books and stories presented in an imaginative and interactive fashion.
The New York Times, in August 2012, also published a list of apps that inject a little learning into vacation time. The list neatly categorizes apps based on age group. Among these, we would especially recommend Letter School (ages 3+) for fun writing practice and Bugs and Bubbles (ages 3-8) for its innovative presentation of Mathematics and Logic. For less than three dollars, both these apps provide hours of fun and learning for your child.
Although these apps cannot replace the outdoor adventures that are an intrinsic part of summer time, they can definitely reduce your burden, as a parent, to meet your child’s needs. You can also use them to enhance their learning on long car trips, sleepy camping afternoons and tedious rainy days.