10 educational apps for the modern family

September 17, 2018 | Posted in: Elementary, High School, Middle Years

Sometimes, it’s hard to believe the iPhone was introduced only 11 years ago. Whether you are an Apple fan or a Samsung fan or have any one of the many other brands, smartphones and, to a lesser degree, tablets, have made profound changes on our daily lives. They put the world at our fingertips.

But these devices really wouldn’t have been so transformative if it weren’t for the mobile apps that followed their introduction. Without apps, a smartphone just isn’t really that smart.

According to Statista, there were 178.1 billion mobile app downloads in the year 2017 alone. This year that figure is projected to rise to 205.4 billion. By 2022, it is estimated there will be 258.2 billion mobile app downloads.

In the first quarter of this year, there were 3.8 million apps available at Google Play and 2 million at the Apple App Store.

There have always been many, many educational game apps for kids – at least since apps became something other than a plate of mozzarella sticks or spinach-artichoke dip. The possibilities really are endless.

While many of them, particularly those that cost a few bucks, are branded with familiar characters like Elmo, others are a little more generic, and many are free.  But all educational game apps are not created equal, so it’s probably worthwhile to do your own research and test a few out yourself to ensure they are age appropriate for your child and are targeting the right academic areas.

What’s for lunch today?

Many school districts are also moving to their own mobile apps to help communicate better with parents and district stakeholders. One of the school districts in which I work launched a mobile app for the first time this year, and it has been well-received. Parents and staff alike have said they love the convenience of having the information they want – such as the daily lunch menu – right at their fingertips.

Many teachers are also using mobile apps specific to their own classrooms to help build the connection between school and home. These apps might include, Google Classroom, Kahoot!, Class Dojo and Remind, but there are many more.

Apps for home

There are also apps that parents can get for their children to help organize their homework and schedules on their own. My Homework and Study Blue are just two of the many apps that are out there. There are even apps specifically designed for students with ADHD to help them focus. Stay on Task is one of these. Although it is Android-only, there are similar apps for iPhone that function the same way. The app “checks-in” on your child randomly to make sure they are concentrating on their homework.

There are also apps that help children and families organize their busy schedules, including some that help ensure children are contributing to the household in a positive manner. One of these is Chore Monster, which helps parents create a fun reward system to encourage their children to help out around the house.

There are even apps designed for families who are in co-parenting situations. Keeping one household schedule on track is hard enough, but for many children growing up with two households, it can get crazy fast. Two Happy Homes and 2 Houses are two examples of this type of app.

There’s an app for that

It’s only recently that I’ve discovered the benefit of mobile apps in helping to organize my household’s busy schedule. With both my 8-year-old and 10-year-old playing travel soccer almost year-round, we’ve found the mobile apps used by our soccer club are instrumental in keeping us organized. I’ve also started coaching in our recreational league, and we have nearly 100 percent participation among parents with our team’s mobile app. It just works.

Whether smartphones are used for homework, employment, entertainment or to help organize our busy lives, it’s sometimes hard to take a break from our screens.  But there’s an app for that too…the off button, and it’s one the whole family can enjoy together.

Jake Palmateer is a public information specialist for Capital Region BOCES. He is a father of two. Their adventures include camping, hiking, metal detecting, painting, stargazing, reading, fishing, soccer, mowing the lawn and baking cupcakes.

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