Let’s face it, technology is an integral part of our children’s lives. BYODs (Bring Your Own Devices) are now the norm. If your kids aren’t on one, they could miss out on some valuable learning opportunities.

We’ve been fortunate to see a leap in learning over the last couple of decades, as the education industry has undergone an exponential transformation. And with the arrival of educational apps learning has become easily accessible, which makes it much more interesting and fun for students of all ages (dads included).

As you know, childhood is the formative years of learning. Their little minds are like sponges. And they’re quickly figuring out that those letters you speak in code to mommy create real words that mean something. If you think about it, our offspring are already light years ahead of us in learning (especially when you consider when you were your kid’s age, you were eating glue and putting crayons up your nose), so there is a great need to introduce different, advanced learning means and methods. Or at least crayons with apps installed in them.

If all goes well, these apps will help them ignite the thirst, the hunger and the gratification of learning, as they all concentrate on the finished product of education – the student. And who knows, if you pay attention, you just might learn something yourself. Plus, have some great fun learning together.

And please note that my kids are in preschool and kindergarten, so these apps will cater to their age. However, many of them are designed to work throughout their entire education, even into Uni. Like eating at Maccas, they start kids on a Chicken McNugget Happy meal and before you know it they’re wolfing down super-sized Big Mac meals. Thankfully, the educational apps are much better for them and easier to swallow, metaphorically speaking.

So, here are a few applications that engage children’s brains and allow them to have fun while they’re learning.

ABC KIDS Play

ABC

This is a nice intro into kids’ apps, if you haven’t ventured into this educational wonderland yet. It’s slightly young, but fun and engaging. The games teach enduring lessons (and in ABC’s case, promote their hit shows at the same time). Everybody wins! With a colourful and interactive play area in a quaint village setting for young children, kids can explore, create, investigate and play.

There are all kinds of cool activities to do, so they can make things without making a mess of your house: clever crafts to create in the Play School activity room and fun games to play with Giggle and Hoot and Bananas in Pyjamas. There’s even a fire engine station that needs cleaning and a car workshop where children can decorate their own cars. If all goes well, your kids will take on all these important life lessons and wash and pimp your ride when they’re done.

Touch and Learn  

Read Good

Soft skills like cooperation, empathy, self-awareness, and focused attention are essential for any student. Understanding many of these non-verbal cues comes in very handy, especially if your kid’s best friend is from another part of the world and English is their second language.

This free app helps kids learn to identify and name emotions, facial expressions and body language. It also helps them improve communications with kids and adults and gets them more comfortable expressing their own feelings, which will hopefully get your darling children who say nothing to start saying something.

The app has a variety of pictures and settings which are all customisable, so it can also be used to practice and extend the learning. It’s simple and repetitive, so the students can easily repeat the process individually. And the pictures are fantastic and engaging… perfect for young students and adults who like pretty colours.

Khan Academy

Mathsmagician

This free app has been invaluable for my kids. It truly enriches the classroom experience without replacing it. And best of all, it makes maths fun, using simple and relatable concepts. Kids will reach a level of true learning and take that lesson or idea outside of the original example and use it in their everyday lives where math comes in handy. Just yesterday, I posed this question to my daughter: “Daddy had 5 beers in the fridge, but ‘somebody’ drank 4 of them. How many are left? And when will mommy buy more for daddy?”

The app makes sure everything is transparent. Each mathematical concept is explained in a simple video that helps to visualise the concept; and there are fun quizzes to help them apply what they’ve learned. Plus, you can monitor their progress and celebrate their success. You’ll have little maths-magicians before you know it.

When your kids eventually pass out after a night of bedtime maths lessons, there’s science and engineering, economics and financeand arts and humanities for inquisitive dads. It’s vast and it’s awesome. And next time you go to a trivia night, you will definitely be taking home the meat platter.

ABC Reading Eggs

Egghead

ABC Reading Eggs helps kids learn to read while playing. Just exactly the opposite of how we were all taught with flash cards and long, wooden rulers. The great thing is, kids have no idea they’re learning. They’ll start by recognising letters and the sounds they make, followed by words and then sentences. When the penny drops you’ll be bathed in prideful riches, as they gain all kinds of amazing confidence in the process.

The beauty of this app is that it truly supports the essential foundations of reading, making learning to read interesting and engaging for kids. It boasts fun and captivating online reading games and activities like songs, golden eggs and other rewards which, along with feeling proud of their reading, really motivates kids to keep exploring and learning. And the rewards and certificates only sweeten the deal.

IXL

Takeoff

Practice feels like play as your kids master year 1 to year 12 English and Maths, all the while making their dads feel really stupid in the process.

Foundation maths skills are organised into all kinds of interesting categories, and you can move your mouse over any skill name to preview what’s in store. There are scores of different categories to choose from, so your child will find a way to learn that’s right for them. All you have to do is click on one and you’re off. IXL will track your score and the questions will automatically increase in difficulty as you improve!

For English, IXL makes the world of words come alive with fun visuals and interactive questions. Playful skills that pique learners’ curiosity about language will turn your little Henrys into Hemingways in no time!

Do it for the children!

Make sure any apps you pick include games and challenges that your child actually likes, rather than looking for something that’s purely educational and boring. After all, there’s no point getting an educational app if your child won’t play it. The more your child enjoys the game, the more they’ll actually benefit from it.

And remember, it’s up to you to help raise a generation of kids who think critically, act responsibly and interact positively in the digital world. So, be sure to let them enjoy it, but also share this amazing experience with them. You’ll both be richer for it.