Monday, January 7, 2013

So many opts for apps makes it tough for parents to choose

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If you’re a parent these days -- chances are you’ve been introduced to e-books, apps and gadgets. It’s also likely that you know the value that these tools can have in integrating learning into a child’s play time at home.  The problem many parents are having is -- knowing which ones are right for their family.
“From storybooks to educational games and apps, there are a number of options to choose from, and the countless titles can seem daunting,” according to a report by Beluga Bloo (www.belugabloocom), a branch of Hung Hing Printing Group Limited. Launched in 2011 and with 60 years of experience in the children’s books industry, BelugaBloo’s site features a creative e-bookstore and expansive selection of animated interactive apps and games tailored to children up to age 12. For those parents looking to find the right learning apps for their family -- BelugaBloo’s technology team offers the following tips:

  For best results a child must be engaged in the learning process. Look for highly-interactive apps that encourage children to actively participate in an activity and to discover. Apps and even e-books that feature sound recognition and activities such as coloring will help your child’s learning journey while having fun in the process.

  Stay focused on the purpose so you’re not swayed by popularity. Flashy programs might seem cool and are probably a fun way to pass the time but are they educational? “Apps that inspire the imagination and spark kids’ interest in learning will pay off greater in the long run. For example, ‘Flashcard Beebee,’ features a fun-loving monkey that helps teach the ABCs with cute and colorful animations for each letter of the alphabet,” states the BelugaBloo report. 

  Can the app be customized? You want an app that allows you to adapt the modes to fit your child’s educational level. Look for apps that have options such as “read to me,” “ready by myself,” “auto play.” Even the games you choose should allow you to create a personalized experience – otherwise your child could become bored, frustrated or both.

  The ultimate goal is education but in order to help children develop a positive association with learning a good app will also be fun.  Look for modern day twists on classic stories. BelugaBloo’s “Groovy Story of the Tortoise and the Hare,” “The Pig’s Day” and “The Three Little Gators” are all examples of well-loved stories with a fun and modern twist.

As with anything you buy shop for value. Apps that do double duty are likely to increase the interest of your child and the lessons they are learning. BelugBloo’s “The Drip Drops,” for example, is a series of e-books and games that center on art, colors, reading and creativity while also promoting basic problem solving and positive self-esteem. You might also consider an app that offers lessons in English and say Spanish or French? In this case the child is engaging in an educational activity while also learning a second language.

The Drip Drops

Consider your child’s interests. Maybe your son loves pirates or dinosaurs. With the market being what it is there’s a good chance you’ll find an app that features a swashbuckler or T-Rex engaged in some kind of educational activity. “Lullaby Piano” is an app that lets music lovers sing and learn how to play some of their favorite nursery rhymes and songs on a digital keyboard.

• The best part about the digital world is that it offers immediate access to user’s feedback. Before you purchase an e-book, game or app check out the reviews and comments from other users. What did they like or dislike? If you have a child with special needs or a specific problem look for a site where you can post a question for other customers. See what other parents and teachers think. Any app that received good reviews from other parents or even teachers will increase the odds that a particular piece of content will appeal to you and your children.

Send your comments or home and garden tips to gina.joseph@macombdaily.com; @gljoseph

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