The first Youtube kids app was launched a few weeks ago. As a parent I have always been wary of giving my children access to apps. But this app was built from ground up with kids in mind, making it safer and easier for young ones to find educational videos that they want to watch, without accidentally navigating through the ‘adult’ stuff.
To download or not to download? Well it’s only available in the United States at the moment so there’s no need to ponder. If you’re interested (she it is made available for the rest of the world), the verdict out there is that it’s actually okay (here’s a review from CNET).
Which apps and online tools do you use as a parent? Here are 10 which I would recommend for parents and perhaps caregivers as well. These tools are handy to have, especially if you have inquisitive, exuberant and (sometimes!) exasperating little ones.
Good for Gaining insight into the needs of children at different stages of growth.
Introduced byEarly Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) which is behind the Grow@Beanstalk portal and the quarterly Beanstalk magazine distributed through preschools, childcare centres, and kindergartens in Singapore.
What I like Easy access to current and past issues of Beanstalk magazines. This site is also a good source of information and activity ideas for children up to the age of seven, as well as updates on preschool happenings in Singapore.
Good for Learning how to balance the diets of children aged one to 12 years.
What I like Register your child’s details, then go to the four meal segments — breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. In each segment, there are five options to delve into: meat and alternatives, dairy, vegetables, fruits, rice and alternatives. If you scroll down, you’ll see the definition of “1 serving” for each item, for example: 1 serving of yellow noodles is a third of a rice bowl or 40 g. After everything your child has eaten the day is accounted for, a Nutrition Report is shown. The app is simple enough for my eight-year-old to use by herself. However, I feel that the variety of foods could be increased, as common foods like soup and mushrooms were not on the list.
Good for Mothers-to-be
What I Like This mobile app by KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) has a directory of all of KKH’s services and is easy to navigate. I found the Pregnancy Planner most useful. It retains and continues counting how far along you are. If you tap on the number of weeks shown, you will find information on the current condition of mother and baby at this time, with tips on what to do and what not to do.
Good for Children to learn about staying safe wherever they are.
What I Like This app from the Health Promotion Board features games and tools which are on the Board’s webpage. What I like is that the games, which was designed for children, are also useful for new parents. My eight-year-old daughter played all the six games in 10 minutes. She found them fun and learnt something new: thanks to the game, she now knows not to put a soft pillow, a blanket, or a toy with string into a baby’s cot.
Good for Children to learn about online safety.
What I Like This mobile app by the Ministry of Education (MOE) was designed to facilitate parental teaching of cyber wellness. It saves us from having to preach and nag, and at the same time, children can learn from it in a fun way. Each player chooses to be a character (choose from three) and answers a set of questions. Each correctly-answered question earns the player a badge. My eight-year-old daughter who managed to answer both versions of questions, basic and advance. She proudly showed me that she had earned 16 badges in only two sittings!
Good for Knowing where the school bus is.
What I Like This is an app I have not personally tried as daughter’s school is not included in the list. I think it would be useful for parents who have children whose schools use this app though. With this app, parents, schools and transport companies can share information about the school calendar and school bus routes, and parents can receive notifications when the school bus is close to home. This would definitely be useful in rainy weather!
Good for Children and adults who enjoy learning something new every day.
What I Like Introduced by Salman Khan, who is also a parent, this learning app lets parents register and add an account for each child. You will be able to look at the overview of the subjects covered. The choice of topics is wide and each comes with a video which is funny and informative. You will also be encouraged to learn new things, too, at least to set a good example to your children. And if your child’s Math homework problem is beyond you, you can check in here before you coach.
Good for Letting children fill their time constructively.
What I Like Introduced by the University of Kansas School of Education, this has educational video games such as Multiplication Grand Prix, arcade-style racing powered by Math. Every time you get your answer right, your car will speed up. I find this exciting and it could motivate your child to do well so that he/she can get into the top scorers board. You can create an account and assign your child some “homework” which comes mostly in form of a racing game. The games are designed for multiple levels. My eight-year-old daughter found this site more fun than Khan Academy, but some of the Math games were too challenging for her.
Good for Learning to write Chinese characters.
What I Like This app was an instant hit with my two girls, and after a fortnight, they are still at it. It makes Chinese writing fun. The younger one delights in tracing and writing with hints to form a character while the older one is excited to practice proper stroke order. Parents can also use the dictation function “to combine different vocabulary sets so children can learn as much vocabulary as possible”.
Good for Parents to spend more quality time with their child.
What I Like Now this is new: parents earning points to parent. To motivate yourself to use this app, you can invite your friends and compete with them on the leaderboard on the number of activities you do together with each of your child, and how much time you spend doing them daily. Currently there are more than 40 activities to choose from, from hairstyling to hugs, reading to shopping. I guess it would serve as an effective reminder to parents of independent children to be creative in planning quality time together.