My children love playing on their tablets. All four of our older children have their own tablets with several apps and games on them. After a certain age, usually 5 years old, we do allow them to have Minecraft and Terraria to play with the older kids. However, all other games must be educational only. In fact, until they are interested in the above mentioned games the only apps they have are to learn their letters and numbers.
We have found that our young children learn best when they are interactive. Whether by games we play at the table or on an app, they learn best when “doing”. I imagine many other children are this way, which is why we encourage the use of educational apps. Not use as a replacement for learning, but as an extension.
With four children having learned letters, numbers and now phonics, we have gone through our fair share of apps. Some have been really great and others flopped. However, one thing they all had in common was that our children were learning and reinforcing what we learned in their lessons. So for that, I consider it a win and the reason we will continue to use them with our fifth child.
I know many people don’t like to use technology with little children, but let’s face it – they are around it every day. They see us on our phones and computers and want to be involved. They don’t necessarily understand its for work, they see it as fun. That’s why we don’t deny them the use of electronics, but we do restrict them according to their age.
3 Reasons We Love Using Phonics Apps
Reinforcement – Using educational apps are a great way to provide reinforcement for lessons children are learning. I have found that learning letters and numbers seem to come relatively easy, but phonics takes more time and practice. Working through them on paper is good, but using apps for reinforcement just helps them learn a different way.
Interactive – Apps allow interaction with the sounds, that paper does not. Yes, we give the sounds and phonics through our own voices as we teach, but phonics apps use more than just sounds to help drive home their learning. Many phonics apps also allow children to work on their fine motor skills as they trace the letters, which gives them more practice without the mess of dry erase boards or excessive use of paper. many times the apps will say the sound as the letters are traced.
Promotes Independence – Since we homeschool multiple children, there isn’t enough time to spend hours a day with each child on their lessons individually. Yes, we do go through lessons with each of them, but some of their work is done independently. We try to foster a love of learning and independent study from an early age, so using apps with our preschoolers is just another way to promote independence.
One of the apps we have used most recently is Phonics Museum by Veritas. This is a new app released by Veritas, that encourages the learning of phonics and promotes reading.
This app was given to me in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
As with all apps, there are both pros and cons you find as you use it. The lessons are short and simple, which I find good for little ones. Their attention spans aren’t long, so short lessons that get to the point quickly are key. The lessons are broken up in sections, but no longer than a couple minutes each, which is perfect for preschoolers. The colors in the lessons are bright and vibrant, which easily keep the attention of little ones. The movements of the characters are not too fast, so they are easy to follow and the graphics are quite clear and well done. I also like that they introduce letters and sounds with artwork and things found in a museum, rather than just an apple or frog. This is a great way to introduce them to the fine arts at a young age.
Even though the app has some great qualities, there are a few negatives I feel need to be pointed out. First of all, it is only available on Apple products at the moment. While this might not be a complete negative, not everyone has an iPhone or iPad. Second, the letters are shown in both manuscript and D’nealian, but they are only traced in the D’nealian font. If you’re not using this style with your children, it could be confusing for them. These are not necessarily cons, but worth pointing out nonetheless. The only con I have to point out is that the alphabet isn’t always presented in order, except when they sing the letters in the alphabet song. When they walk through the halls of the museum at the beginning, they say A, B, C, D, G skipping over E and F. When they were to be learning about the letter A, they play a “game” of letters through the art in the museum. However, it doesn’t go in order and they only mention the letter A once. I found this to be a little odd and could be quite confusing for a young child learning their letters and sounds.
After contacting Veritas for clarification as to why it was set-up like that, this is the explanation I received, which help me understand why the letters were sometimes presented out of order:
The point of the phonics app is to teach children to read a book as soon as possible. In order to do that, we have to teach children letters out of order… doing this allows us to get a child to read an early reader in less than 4 weeks (a feat no other service has been able to do) and is critical in our thinking to getting children excited about reading. If a child is able to do something quickly, they become more encouraged to continue to down that path. This is true in everything in life and we’ve applied this to reading.
Overall, apps are a fun way to help kids work on additional skills, encourage independence and reinforce the lessons they are learning. I encourage you to give them a try!
Annette has been married to her husband and best friend since 2003. Together they are raising their six children to follow the Lord’s will, no matter what. Annette longs for the day when she will meet her angel babies who have entered heaven before her. She enjoys creating UNIT STUDIES and FREE PRINTABLES for homeschool families. You can follow her crazy life at In All You Do where she blogs about homeschooling, homemaking and marriage while trying to maintain her sanity. She is also the owner of Thrifty Homeschoolers where she shares her tips on homeschooling without breaking the bank.