When you become a parent you’re immediately thrusted into the mindset of having to figure out what your parenting will look like. Will you exclusively breastfeed? Bottle feed? What about using a pacifier? Will your baby even take to it – and if they do when should you cut them off? Will you co-sleep? Sleep train? Cry it out or just be okay with not sleeping for the next five years?
Another popular parenting taboo that seems to garner a lot of opinions from literally everyone is…
…the use of the iPad or a similar device with their child.
The ‘No iPad’ Parent
On one side you have the ‘no iPad’ parents who refrain from having their child use an iPad – and some to go as far as limiting all technology. From a parent and teacher standpoint I can completely understand and respect this side of the debate because there are studies that have been legitimized as it relates to development and a child’s screen time. Plus there are countless classrooms all over the country where children are failing in reading and writing due to a number of factors, but one being the amount of time in front of a screen. Not to mention, these sedentary activities lead to poor lifestyle choices later on and even linked to obesity in the long run if not limited. And I’m sure you can easily pull up all of the other cons lists about iPads and children.
However, not all screen time has to have this bad connotation. It’s important that parents recognize their role in educating and preparing their child(ren) for success as learners. By no means should a device, whether it be TV or an iPad, be used as a substitute for real parenting. Let me say that one more time…
a device should not replace real parenting.
I agree that handing an iPad to a child instead of engaging with them or going outside for a walk is not a healthy routine to expose a child to. We all know that young children crave discovery, engagement, getting their hands dirty, and freedom to explore and interact with the world around them. But, I think it’s also important for others to see that iPads and similar devices provide a link for parents looking to engage and teach their child while at home.
Favorite Educational Apps For Toddlers
We first introduced the iPad to Greyson when I noticed he had interest and could swipe the screen open – about a couple of months ago. I started small and continue to limit the amount of time he is on it – especially since he throws a fit if he can’t play it every single day or God forbid I’d like to use it. So, we’ve had to establish some boundaries for Grey and his use of the iPad, which is to be expected. We also set up Guided Access which limits him to one app at a time or keeps him from going to other apps while playing on it and I highly recommend this feature to other parents!
Now this brings me to sharing with you all a few of my favorite learning apps for my son. Some are free and some you’ll have to shell out a few bucks, but overall I couldn’t be happier with how well they’ve taught Greyson over these last few months!
Bing, Bang, Beep, Boop and Bo are kind of family to us at this point. We first discovered StoryBots when we were browsing Netflix for Greyson and thought by the first episode how engaging the songs were! The first season can still be found on Netflix, which follows these robot friends as they answer common questions from real children around the country (i.e. ‘why does night happen?’ or ‘how to planes fly?’). They’ve each got such a unique and fun personality and highly enjoy able to watch even as adults.
StoryBots also has a set of apps that they’ve just recently combined into one with in-app purchases or subscriptions for certain content. Greyson has already mastered how to navigate their easy dashboard and loves re-watching the song videos – which range from the alphabet, colors, shapes, and numbers to professions and behaviors as seen on the show (and all about 60 seconds long). A word of warning though, the songs are addicting and you’ll have them forever stuck in your head!
Endless Reader & Alphabet
If you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably seen me share Greyson using these apps which have been great for his letter recognition and sounds! In the reader app you can select from common sight words (i.e. words that can be seen everywhere like the, all, etc.) and match the letters to create the word. As you touch the screen and move the letters they make the corresponding sound, which Grey really enjoys. Once you create the word you then use it by completing a silly sentence with a short video. The characters are so fun and I have seen a huge difference in Greyson’s ability to recognize his letters and match them to make a word.
Endless Alphabet is also great companion app to use because it is just all about matching letters to create a word. Although, be advised that these words are legit vocabulary words like magnify, beautiful, and fluffy – among others. He simply matches the letters and a short video explains the definition. He’s really come to love both and it’s exciting as a parent to see him proud of himself when completing a new word.
Greyson is a Sesame Street baby and fell in love with Elmo almost immediately when he was only a few months old. Since then we’ve tried to find a number of educational apps that feature Elmo. Greyson loves this ABC app where Elmo introduces the alphabet and shares a number of activities to do with each letter. You do get A, B, and C for free, but if you’re willing to spend a few dollars you’ll have access to the entire alphabet. He still needs help with tracing the letter with his finger, but I work with him on it and he’s so proud of himself when Elmo get’s excited!
I remember using this free program when I taught kindergarten and was so happy to see they have an app! This was the first alphabet app I introduced to Greyson because the interface is super simple and doesn’t require too much fine motor skill on his part. Now that he’s been using it for a few months, and has other apps to choose from, this one doesn’t get much love anymore…but wanted to share as it’s a perfect introduction for little fingers and letter sounds.
I’m not here to change your mind if you happen to be a no iPad parent, but at the very least I wanted to share and introduce a number of educational apps that have had a proven ability to teach and engage my toddler. All of these concepts can be introduced using puzzles, coloring pages, or other fun Pinterest-worthy activities. But to those parents who do incorporate an iPad into their child’s play, these apps are sure to be fun learning for your little one and you can stop judging yourself as a parent. Because it’s educational! 😉
Do you have any favorite apps for your toddler? I’d love to discover some new ones for Greyson!