Are you concerned about how much time your child spends in front of a smartphone, tablet, or computer screen?
While you should place limits on their total screen time, you can also help them make the most of that time by steering them towards educational software applications. Your child’s school may already use one or more such apps to complement their instruction.
But if you find those lacking, or hope to guide your child more towards STEM-focused education, try one of the following software applications:
BrainPop / BrainPop Jr.
BrainPop is a subscription-based service that provides children (grades 4-12) with instructional content, including videos, games, and quizzes on various topics, including science and technology. BrainPop Jr. specifically curates material for children in grades K-3. Both BrainPop and BrainPop Jr. have been praised for the quality of their educational videos and their ease of use.
Hopscotch-Programming for Kids
Hopscotch teaches kids to code using a drag-and-drop editing interface and lets them create animations and stories. Built for use on mobile devices, Hopscotch is available in a free and premium version — the latter containing more coding options and instructional content. While Hopscotch is not robust enough to allow your kids to create the next bestselling app, they will be able to absorb some fundamental coding principles and share their creations with their friends.
Roblox allows users to play games, while its Roblox Studio feature enables users to design and create their own games using a programming language called Lua. User-designed games and content can be shared and even sold to other Roblox users, with the designer and the Roblox corporation splitting the proceeds.
Roblox is not only a fertile environment for kids to be entertained and be creative, but it also provides them a platform to learn coding and even entrepreneurship.
Scratch / Scratch Jr.
Developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Scratch is a free program designed to help kids 8 to 16 learn to code.
For younger children — ages 5 to 7, MIT has also developed Scratch Jr., with a drag-and-drop interface that lets children use coding blocks to create animations, design games, and produce stories.
Introduce your child to one or more of these applications, install it on your device and learn with them, and periodically review their progress.
By doing so, you can help nurture their creativity, foster their intellectual curiosity, and help them learn invaluable hard and soft skills.