Choosing the Right Learning Apps for Preschoolers

By eLearning Inside
September 13, 2023

Experts say children who are three to five years old, or preschoolers, should be able to dress themselves and sing a song, among many other cognitive developmental milestones.

The best thing about preschoolers today is their access to apps — a total game-changer in boosting learning efficiency and engagement.

However, not all learning apps are suitable for all learners. While the options are many, few are apt for the unique needs and capabilities of preschoolers. Hence, parents must be particularly discriminating when choosing one.

If you’re looking for a learning app for your preschooler, an online search will be your fastest route. Note that it takes the right app to benefit the right learner, so take the time to evaluate each option thoroughly. There will be plenty to consider, but you can begin by asking the ten questions listed below:

Is it easy to use?

A user-friendly app can profoundly impact your child’s engagement and learning journey. Intuitive navigation and a straightforward interface are key factors. An app that is easy for your child to understand and navigate encourages independent exploration, fostering a sense of accomplishment.

Equally important, an app’s user-friendliness affects your involvement as a parent. Clear instructions and accessible progress tracking enable you to stay actively engaged in your child’s learning process. If an app is complicated or confusing, it could hinder your child’s learning enthusiasm and pose challenges for you to support their educational endeavors effectively.

Prioritizing an app designed with simplicity in mind creates an environment where you and your preschooler can confidently embrace learning together. A well-designed, easy-to-use app supports your child’s autonomy, encourages their curiosity, and streamlines your role in guiding their digital educational experience.

Does it have a well-defined learning goal?

Evaluating an app’s learning goals ensures your child’s screen time translates into meaningful learning experiences. Seek apps that provide diverse activities catering to different aspects of growth. Whether it fosters social skills, nurtures curiosity, or builds a strong foundation for future academic endeavors, an app’s alignment with targeted learning goals is a testament to its educational value.

Prioritize apps that transparently communicate their learning objectives, detailing how they intend to support your child’s growth. This way, you can confidently choose apps that resonate with your aspirations for your child’s development. Ultimately, the right app can become a valuable tool in shaping your preschooler’s learning journey, offering engaging activities that pave the way for well-rounded growth and a solid educational foundation.

Does it teach all the basic skills expected of preschoolers?

Preschooler skills form the building blocks of their development and cover a broad spectrum of cognitive, social, and motor abilities. When choosing an app, ensure it teaches your child early literacy skills, letters, sounds, and basic vocabulary and fosters the initial steps toward reading readiness.

Numeracy skills are equally paramount, with interactive activities introducing numbers, counting, and simple math concepts. Beyond academics, the app should emphasize social skills, facilitating engagement, cooperation, and emotional understanding through interactive scenarios.

Lastly, pay attention to the importance of motor skills development. The app should allow your child to practice fine motor tasks like tracing and tapping, which are pivotal in future writing abilities.

Does it present a balance of theoretical and real-world problems for children to solve?

Balancing both theoretical and real-world problem-solving ensures your child gains not only theoretical knowledge but also the ability to apply that knowledge effectively. Theoretical problem-solving involves tasks that stimulate critical thinking and decision-making, often presented through puzzles, patterns, and logic-based challenges. Such activities cultivate your child’s ability to analyze situations and devise solutions.

Incorporating real-world problem-solving tasks is equally vital. These activities mimic everyday scenarios, allowing your child to apply their developing cognitive skills to practical situations.

From sorting objects by color to arranging items in a sequence, these tasks nurture essential life skills and encourage creative thinking.

An app offering diverse challenges prepares your child for a fruitful academic life. More importantly, it helps them make wise adult decisions later on, from making investment choices to finding a life partner.

Is it entertaining enough?

Kids will be kids. The more captivating and enjoyable an app is, the more it will engage your child’s curiosity and sustain their interest in learning. It all boils down to the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine. Scientists have classically considered it either as a learning signal or a motivator, although a recent Dutch study hints it could be both simultaneously.

In any case, entertaining elements within the app keep your child motivated and enthusiastic about exploration. Interactive animations, colorful visuals, and lively characters captivate their attention and make learning feel like an exciting adventure. A fun app holds your child’s focus, making the learning process more effective as they willingly invest their time and energy.

Moreover, an app that offers entertainment alongside education nurtures a sense of accomplishment. As your child completes tasks and activities, they experience a sense of pride and achievement, boosting their confidence and self-esteem.

Selecting an app that combines learning with enjoyment sets the stage for a positive attitude toward education, creating a solid foundation for future academic pursuits and a lifelong eagerness to learn.

Does it promote focus by limiting distractions?

Parents can use apps with pop-up animations or frequent prompts to help young learners with their attention spans.

A streamlined, distraction-free interface ensures your child can engage with the app’s learning activities without interruptions. It promotes a deeper connection with the content and enhances their ability to comprehend and learn effectively.

Additionally, by choosing an app that doesn’t bombard your child with requests for purchases or external interactions, you create a safer digital environment, shielding them from potentially harmful online interactions. Ultimately, a preschool learning app that minimizes distractions supports your child’s learning journey and fosters an environment conducive to meaningful learning and skill development.

Does it have a feedback system?

The power of educational feedback is scientifically proven, so choose an app that provides it to optimize your child’s learning outcomes. One effective method is to use an audio message delivered by an animated social character. This character’s animated presence and direct eye contact create a personal connection that grabs your child’s attention and encourages interaction.

This approach aligns well with how young learners naturally engage with visual and auditory stimuli. The character’s direct gaze enhances the feeling of one-on-one interaction, making the feedback more relatable and impactful.

Moreover, audio messages can convey tone and emotion, offering nuanced guidance for your child’s receptive learning process. By combining these factors, this feedback technique improves understanding as well as cultivates a positive attitude toward learning.

Does it come with a trial period?

A trial period for a learning app for your preschooler is vital in ensuring a well-informed decision. It allows you to explore the app’s features, interface, and educational content before committing. During this time, you can assess its alignment with your child’s learning needs, preferences, and developmental stage.

A trial period lets you gauge the app’s usability and engagement level. You can observe if it captures your child’s attention, offers age-appropriate challenges, and maintains their interest over time. It’s a chance to verify if the app’s content matches your educational aspirations or whether it covers essential skills and learning objectives.

Furthermore, the trial period provides insight into any technical issues or compatibility concerns specific to your device. You can evaluate the app’s performance and assess whether it’s user-friendly for both you and your child.

How did your child react to the app while trying it out?

Your child’s response provides crucial insights into the app’s suitability and effectiveness. Observing their engagement, enthusiasm, and level of interest during the trial period indicates the app’s potential to captivate and educate.

Children are naturally tech-intuitive, and their initial interaction with the app offers valuable feedback on its user-friendliness. If your child seems engaged, curious, and excited to explore, it suggests that the app’s design aligns with their age and cognitive abilities.

Additionally, their reaction can unveil whether the app’s content resonates with their interests and developmental stage. If they express enjoyment and actively participate in the app’s activities, it indicates that the educational content is engaging and appropriately challenging.

Ultimately, your preschooler’s reaction serves as a litmus test, providing a clear picture of whether the app holds the potential to enhance their learning journey effectively. By considering their response, you ensure the chosen learning app aligns with their needs and preferences, fostering a positive and enriching digital learning experience.

What do other parents say about it?

Reviews from fellow parents offer valuable insights into the app’s effectiveness, educational value, and overall user experience. Positive ones can highlight engaging features, effective learning outcomes, and user-friendly interfaces. Conversely, negative reviews might shed light on potential drawbacks, technical issues, or content misalignment.

Through these firsthand accounts, you can discern whether the app meets your expectations and aligns with your child’s educational needs. Keep an eye out for comments about age-appropriateness, educational content, ease of use, and any concerns parents have raised.

This collective feedback empowers you to make an informed decision, ensuring the chosen app will likely provide your preschooler with a positive and enriching learning experience. However, with 30 to 40 percent of online reviews being fake, staying with popular and reputable websites is crucial.

Empower Yourself To Empower Your Preschooler

Selecting the right learning app for your preschooler requires careful consideration. By posing the essential questions outlined in this article, you can screen your options and choose with confidence.

As technology continues to shape early education, empower yourself as a parent by providing the best tools that shape your child’s digital learning experience. This way, you can set them up for a lifetime of curiosity, growth, and success.

Featured image: jacoblund, iStock. 

If you found this article helpful, check out Using AI Apps in K-12 Classrooms