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