‘APP’Y BABY

There are a num­ber of apps that have helped par­ents en­ter­tain, ed­u­cate and in­spire their chil­dren. We take a look at some of them

Mother & Baby - - CONTENTS - BY RUTH DSOUZA PRABHU

Ed­u­ca­tional apps to en­gage your child

IF there is one thing par­ents un­doubt­edly agree on, it’s the fact that tech­nol­ogy has now be­come an in­te­gral part of par­ent­ing. With tech­nol­ogy be­com­ing in­creas­ingly per­sonal and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble with a sim­ple down­load, par­ents are tak­ing to in­clud­ing it in their ap­proach to mak­ing stud­ies more fun, en­ter­tain­ment more in­no­va­tive or sim­ply as a means of let­ting chil­dren dis­cover the world. Here is a look at some apps that par­ents have found in­ter­est­ing across the spec­trum.

ZERO TO TWO YEARS

Once those lit­tle tots sit up on their own, there is a whole new world out there for them to ex­plore. Ev­ery­thing around them proves to be stim­u­la­tion and an ex­er­cise in ad­ven­ture. And by now you must have had quite a few runins with tod­dler hands try­ing to grab that tablet out of yours. A great app for cu­ri­ous lit­tle hands is Baby’s Mu­si­cal Hands by Stream­ing Coloured Stu­dios, priced at ` 55 (avail­able on iOS and An­droid). Coloured squares are as­so­ci­ated with var­i­ous in­stru­ments. 10 squares are vis­i­ble on the de­vice screen and your baby will see lovely lit­tle stars ex­plode from each key when he touches each one, along with the in­stru­ment. It’s a sim­pleto-use app and one that works re­ally well if you are look­ing to get some can­did pho­tos of your lit­tle one. The squeals of laugh­ter and the amuse­ment at each sound is price­less.

“Baby’s Mu­sic Box, YouTube and Snapchat are the three medi­ums that I have en­joyed us­ing the most,” says Ritcha Verma, life­style blog­ger and com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­fes­sional based in

Mum­bai. “Since my daugh­ter Aryaa was born, for the first one and a half years, the only baby app she was aware of was the Baby’s Mu­sic Box. When she was one and a half, she was in­tro­duced to Snapchat and YouTube. Snapchat with her is fun be­cause she loves the dif­fer­ent fil­ters, es­pe­cially the doggy one. She loves to make faces on and then watch her­self over and over again. YouTube for her is to dance on her favourite songs or watch her favourite egg un­box­ing videos which she is ad­dicted to. The Baby’s Mu­sic Box app helped to soothe her, and make her stop cry­ing. It kept her en­ter­tained with the dif­fer­ent an­i­mals and mu­sic op­tions. It al­ways got an in­stant re­sponse from her. She has even gone to sleep lis­ten­ing to the mu­sic. I rec­om­mended it to a cou­ple of friends and they all had the same re­ac­tion when they in­tro­duced it to their babies.”

If there is one thing that most par­ents of babies be­low the age of two face, is hav­ing them sleep fit­fully through the night. Un­til chil­dren get into a rou­tine and have their sleep pat­terns well set, in­ter­mit­tent sleep is one hurdle most par­ents face. “I did too, and it did not help that my daugh­ter was a night owl and I was a day per­son,” says Me­gan Dsouza, a home­maker from Man­ga­lore. “And then some­one ex­plained to me about am­bi­ent noise and how it aids in sleep. I looked it up on­line and found a num­ber of White Noise apps that proved very use­ful in sooth­ing my child and get­ting her to sleep each night. The fact that they are am­bi­ent means you can have it play­ing all through the night and sleep well with it too.”

TWO TO THREE YEARS

“Around the time I had my sec­ond child, I was look­ing for a way to en­gage my two-year-old, with some­thing that I could rely on to teach or en­ter­tain in a clean and en­gag­ing way,” says Gau­ravi Singh, an ad­ver­tis­ing pro­fes­sional and mother to two chil­dren. “YouTube for Kids is a won­der­ful app that teaches nurs­ery rhymes, has episodes of var­i­ous child-friendly shows like Peppa Pig, Sesame Street and the like. Keeps the lit­tle one en­ter­tained while I at­tend to the younger one. In fact I even use it to spend some qual­ity time with the older one—we sing to­gether, watch episodes of shows to­gether and more.”

YouTube ap­pears to be a universal favourite among par­ents con­sid­er­ing there are videos that cover a wide gamut of edu­tain­ment op­tions for chil­dren. As kids grow older, par­ents are lean­ing to­wards us­ing the app to in­tro­duce their chil­dren to newer ex­pe­ri­ences. As I write this, I think back to when my daugh­ter, now 10 years old, first showed in­ter­est in danc­ing and bal­let in par­tic­u­lar, we used YouTube to show her some of the clas­sic bal­let pro­duc­tions like The Nut­cracker and Swan Lake. She didn’t par­tic­u­larly sit through the en­tire show on­line, but it did get her in­ter­ested enough to en­roll in classes when she was five years old. Now, she has two shows un­der her belt!

Ananya Man­dal, a doc­tor and as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at a Med­i­cal col­lege in Kolkata is mother to sever-year-old Sriya. Ananya says, “Apps have helped keep Sriya en­gaged while I work at free­lance writ­ing jobs. I mon­i­tor what she is ex­posed to and feel guilty about e-sit­ting her, but she’s learnt a lot. We, for ex­am­ple, are watch­ing Mile Sur Mera Tumhara on YouTube these days. So she is learn­ing unity in di­ver­sity of our coun­try. We watch loads of DD oldies, too. Sriya picks up songs, prayers etc. from the app as well. Far­mville (avail­able on iOS and An­droid) is an­other beau­ti­ful game app which I use to teach her about na­ture, food and some ad­di­tion and sub­trac­tion as well!”

FOUR TO FIVE YEARS

By the time your child reaches the age of four, they are able to spend a good amount of time with things that en­ter­tain them, quite in­de­pen­dently. One app that has been do­ing the rounds with par­ents is that of Sesame Street (avail­able on iOS and An­droid). Good, clean en­ter­tain­ment, with clip­pings from the show, sing along ses­sions,

and sim­ple games that teach the al­pha­bet, rhymes, ba­sic mathematics among other things. It also fea­tures pop­u­lar char­ac­ters from the TV show like Elmo, Ker­mit the Frog, Miss Piggy. A plus point is the show clip­pings may be down­loaded and viewed off­line at a later point.

Sham D, a doc­tor based in Lon­don and mother to an in­fant and a tod­dler says that she uses apps when the fam­ily un­der­takes long dis­tance trav­els when you need a dis­trac­tion for the kids. “I also use these apps when I need a bit of peace and quiet to hear my­self think. Kidlo-Land nurs­ery rhymes and Dis­ney Lite have been apps that have come to the res­cue for their bright and in­ter­ac­tive graph­ics, clear pro­nun­ci­a­tion and kid-friend­li­ness.”

FIVE YEARS AND ABOVE

Among the pop­u­lar apps in this age group is the ABC-Mouse app (avail­able on iOS and An­droid), which brings preschool and nurs­ery level school cur­ricu­lums into an easy-to-in­ter­act-with for­mat with more than 5,000 ac­tiv­i­ties to choose from, across sub­jects. While this is based more on an in­ter­na­tional syl­labus than it is an In­dian one, it has a sense of uni­ver­sal­ity in terms of its ap­proach to learn­ing. The English lan­guage, Math, So­cial Stud­ies, Sci­ence, Health are among the sub­jects cov­ered. The ac­tiv­i­ties are based on lev­els, giv­ing your child some­thing to work to­wards. Con­cepts are also cov­ered in the step-by-step learn­ing process that is in­ter­ac­tive. Sharon Co­laco D’souza is a decor Stylist based in Pune, with a five-year-old son. She says, “Blue’s Clues is an American app that I spe­cially bought and it’s one that is tar­geted at two to four-year-olds, to get them think­ing when solv­ing puz­zles. Now that my child is older, Smartiv­ity is the only app we al­low. It came along with a jig­saw puz­zle and the whole fam­ily loves it. It is meant to be used with a Smartiv­ity toy, and the app brings the puz­zle to life, among other things. I love the fact that my son will spend time on the ac­tual ac­tiv­ity out­side the app first—colour­ing the print­outs from the app, or do­ing the puz­zle, and af­ter it’s over, the app helps to take the game to an in­ter­ac­tive level.” Based on ev­ery child’s needs, there are a range of apps avail­able that are fun, in­ter­ac­tive and, more im­por­tantly, not com­pletely a waste of time over a gad­get. As par­ents, fil­ter­ing out the un­nec­es­sary from the use­ful be­comes im­por­tant to make the best use of what these apps have to of­fer.

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