How To Choose A Truly Educational App for Your Toddler
There are hundreds of ‘educational’ apps for toddlers on the market today. If you find that number a bit high, just go to Google Play Store, type in ‘educational’, and scroll through the endless list of applications claiming that they will help your child get ahead of the pack.
Unfortunately, just slapping on a label that reads ‘enhances learning’ doesn’t mean that the app will do just that. Right now, there’s no clear standard regulating when developers can and cannot claim that their app is educational. They can certainly believe that, but how can you know for sure if you’re not familiar with the criteria?
In an effort to help you on your journey to find the best educational app for your child, we’ve put together this list. In essence, it’s what we at Zoolingo believe makes an application worthy of yours and your child’s time, and early education experts agree with us.
1. Engaging, Motivational & Supports Learning Goals
Kids learn when they are engaged and motivated, which is why educational apps need to be a cross between education and entertainment. This means fun content, bright and vivid images, attention-grabbing songs and puzzles, and more. If an app simply repeats numbers at your kid, you could just as well use flash cards or a video recording, the effect will be the same – slow acquisition process and almost non-existent retention of the material that was covered.
In addition to that, any app you choose for your child should support the learning goals you have set for them. Those goals are different for toddlers and preschoolers, and you have to have a number of games that you can switch between as your child progresses. Zoolingo has over 1000 different educational games built-in, and all of them connect with real-life experiences your child will be exposed to at their age – learning about the weather, emotions, animals they encounter, fruits and vegetables they eat, and so on.
2. Age-Appropriate Design
An app will not be very useful to your child if they are unable to use it independently. That often happens when developers don’t consult with educators and early childhood specialist in the beginning stages of their project.
With Zoolingo, we paid utmost care during the design process to ensure that our app is intuitive and simple to use. You will still need to be there for your toddler the first couple of times but after that, they will be able to access all the games without any assistance at all. Remember, the goal here is for them to have continuous app support that will strengthen what they are already learning in everyday life, not for them to wage war on an interface that would easily confuse someone 10 years older!
3. Not an Endless Parade of Ads
Some educational apps run on a freemium model – that means that their existence and content are only possible because they show ads inside the app itself. We love freemium games but the fact remains that they disrupt the learning process. Imagine your child learning numbers from 1 to 10, only to see a 30-second commercial after each number? That’s not educational, that’s frustrating.
Zoolingo is a paid app but those monthly (or discounted yearly) payments help us deliver an uninterrupted learning experience. With the paid version, your child will not see a single ad that can potentially disrupt the flow of their in-app activities.
4. Developed by Experts
Developing an app takes a lot of work and effort. Still, it’s mostly design and coding, when you think about it. What that means is that everyone with passable computer skills can create an app and start marketing it as educational – without providing any proof that it will actually benefit your child.
At Zoolingo, we love and appreciate our developers. However, we still make sure that their work is guided by input from early childhood experts. That way, we can confidently say that every game that makes it to the app provides a certain benefit to kids who are using it.
5. Supports Group Activities
Learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and apps that don’t feature group games are short-changing your child. Socialization is an important part of a child’s learning process – in essence, it helps them learn how to learn. In addition, skills and knowledge acquired through group activities have a better chance of ‘sticking’.
Zoolingo has plenty of games your child can play independently. However, the app features activities everyone can participate in, such as singing nursery rhymes, or naming animals. We encourage you to take advantage of that – instead of using the app to keep your child occupied, use the activities provided to bond with them and to facilitate their learning.
Modern technology is making learning accessible, fun, and super-charged. Still, as parents and as educators, we have an obligation to curate what our children use, especially when they are still toddlers. So, when the time comes to choose the best educational app for your child – choose Zoolingo.