Want to keep your kids reading over the summer? Having trouble choosing books for your kids to read? Why not enter the Readability Tutor #SummerReading giveaway? The winner will get a $100 Amazon Gift Card to buy books – or toys too!
Archives for June 2021
The scene might sound familiar. You’re waiting at the bus stop for your first-grader to come home. Out of the double-doors bounces your child. You head home, fix a snack, and get ready to tackle that homework. Your child is struggling with sound blends, though. You’re doing your best, but that reading lesson is dragging on.
“Helping my first grader with reading is too hard,” you think. And, yes, helping a first-grader with homework—any homework—can be a struggle. Here’s how to make reading and homework time a bit easier.
Include Downtime to Help 1st Grader Read
The hypothetical situation above sounded pretty typical. And maybe it was. But there was one glaring issue with the way homework was handled. Fixing the snack was a great idea; kids get hungry after school, and if dinner won’t be on the table for a few hours, they may need a light snack.
What happened next, though, might have derailed the homework. The parent fixed a snack and led the child right into a homework lesson. No one missed a beat. The child just finished school, just finished hours of learning, and then came home to sit down again…and learn.
Parents come home from work and may feel burned out. The solution? We schedule down time (if we can). We play on our phones. Check social media. Veg out a bit with a television show. Give children the same relaxation.
When a child gets off the bus, fix a light snack if they’re hungry. Then let them have a little downtime. This doesn’t have to be hours, but let them have a break before helping a first-grader read or do homework. Maybe they can play until dinner, and after dinner comes homework time, bath, reading then bed.
How to Help a 1st Grader with Reading and Homework? Make a Schedule
Many children like routines. They like to know what happens next, and this can help them plan for the next task. A child’s school day is planned out. Many teachers will even write the schedule down and post it somewhere in the room so children always know how the day will look.
Think about creating a schedule at home. Parents can write a master schedule and post it for children to reference. Or parents can simply just stick to the same routine.
Keeping a schedule also helps children understand what is expected of them. They know that after they get off the bus, they have a snack, can play for a few hours, then they eat dinner and do their homework and read.
Every family’s schedule might look different. Parents of caregivers might need to build in time for sports, dance or other extracurricular activities. Just make sure children always have plenty of time for homework, reading…and sleep, too.
Children shouldn’t be pulling all-nighters to finish homework or projects. Parents might need to schedule in bedtime to ensure that children get the rest their growing bodies need. So how much sleep should children clock each night? According to the Sleep Foundation, preschoolers (ages 3 to 5) require 10 to 13 hours of sleep each night, while older children (6 to 13) need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep.
Some children may need more or less sleep than others. Parents, however, should set bedtimes to ensure that children are clocking a healthy dose of rest.
My 1st Grader is Struggling with Reading But I Need a Break!
Parents who are worn thin might not have the patience to sit down and help children with homework assignments. Parents of struggling readers or whose child has learning struggles might need to spend more time helping their child.
Parents and caregivers get stressed, and they might need a break, too. While this isn’t always possible, parents should try to take a break when kids are playing. A little downtime can help a parent feel rejuvenated and ready to help their child.
Sometimes if those lessons have gone on too long, parents may feel that they are at a breaking point. If the patience is unraveling, or if that lesson has gone on just too long, know when to take a break. And understand that taking a break is healthy.
Education evolves, and the way that certain lessons are taught might change through the generations. For parents, this may mean that their child may learn a completely different way to master a concept. Parents may not understand the new learning method, and this can be stressful. If parents feel absolutely lost, put the homework away and email the teacher.
And, yes, parents need to ensure they’re sleeping enough at night, too. Burning the midnight oil may leave parents feeling worn out and crabby.
Helping My First Grader with Reading…with Helpful Resources
Children who struggle with reading or other assignments might need additional help from parents. Some parents may feel prepared to provide this additional enrichment, but others might not know how to help their child with their struggles.
There are many online resources that can help parents. Download worksheets to help children with reading assignments or to provide extra practice at home. Math resources also exist online.
Parents also can reach out to their child’s teacher to find ways to help their child at home. Teachers may be able to send home extra assignments and worksheets or help parents find other learning resources.
Helping My First Grader with Reading by Making Learning Fun
Some subjects can be challenging for children. They may simply struggle with a concept or lag behind peers a bit and need extra help and guidance at home.
Parents can make these at-home lessons into a game to ensure that children stay engaged. Does a first-grader struggle with sight words? Take them on a sight word scavenger hunt. Take that list of words and try to find them around the home (kids can look at boxes, newspapers, etc.). Parents also can make a matching game with sight words. Create two cards for each sight word, mix them up and place them face down. Now take turns matching up the words.
Children who struggle with story comprehension can play comprehension games. Parents can make a comprehension ball using a beach ball. Write prompts or questions about the story on each section of the ball. Toss the ball back and forth. Whatever question/prompt faces up needs to be answered.
First graders can work on math in the kitchen. Helping parents make meals and follow recipes may provide a fun math lesson. Children can help measure ingredients and work on simple recipe math problems.
Helping My First Grader with Reading by Using Tech as an Advantage
Some children don’t like standard books, but they love technology. For the child who absolutely hates to be pulled away from the screen, it might be beneficial for parents to use technology to their advantage. Apps and online games can help children with many subjects, including reading and math.
Children who struggle with math may enjoy apps or online games to work on math concepts. Parents can find games that are grade-level appropriate via Google Play or the App Store. Focus on games that address first-grade concepts. Although some games may have multiple levels that are divided up by grade level.
Apps and programs may be free, but some (like Readability) require a subscription. Before committing to a program, find out the cost and the billing methods. Parents also may want to explore the program further to make sure it’s a good fit for their child. Readability offers a free seven-day trial period so parents and their child can explore the program.
Some free programs and apps, though, might not offer enough support for a child who struggles with a concept. Other apps could offer in-app purchases that charge a fee to parents’ accounts when a child purchases something within the game. Children don’t always know what is part of the game, and what might be a charged upgrade. After installing free apps, be sure to disable all in-app purchases if parents don’t want any surprise charges. Those little purchases can add up quickly!
More learning-focused apps like Readability may be a better option for parents who want to ensure their child receives additional help for their area of struggle. There are many different educational programs that parents can investigate, and each one may be designed to address a specific subject or learning challenge.
If a first-grader is struggling with phonics, comprehension and other reading fundamentals, a reading app could help them move towards grade-level benchmarks and gain confidence and proficiency. Readability, for example, provides help with both phonics and comprehension. A built-in AI reading tutor helps children with pronunciation when they stumble on a word and asks questions about the story to test comprehension.
Children don’t advance to the next level until they display mastery of their current level. Readability also provides a Parent Dashboard for parents that shows reading data for each child; parents can view their child’s current level, follow their progress and see how long their child used the program. Reading reports also can be sent to the child’s teacher.
Readability also will grow with a child who is in first-grade. Readability can be used through sixth grade, which means that parents can use the program to help their first grader throughout elementary school.
Ready to try out Readability? Sign up for a free trial today!
Summer is a great opportunity for more learning in an unconventional way. Summer school is not exactly something that many kids get excited about. However, you can get your children excited and motivated to keep learning through a summer reading program.
What is a summer reading program?
A summer reading program is simply a way to get your child to read more while on their summer break from school. There are many different kinds of summer reading programs you can follow that are created by local libraries. You can even come up with your own program that is customized for your child’s reading needs.
Most summer reading programs are based on a specific list of books that children are encouraged to read from. While this can be a good start to use for your own summer reading program, it is an even better idea to collect books for your child’s library that are specifically within their reading level but also slightly advanced. This can help them build confidence as they read throughout the summer.
What are the benefits of summer reading?
Reading, in general, has many benefits for your child. So, why not continue to encourage them to read while on summer break?
- Improve overall reading skills – When children read a lot and often, they essentially are continuously practicing reading skills and becoming better. Taking the approach of extensive reading, which is to read a lot of books for fun, helps them to become independent fluent readers.
- Practice extensive reading – As mentioned, extensive reading is reading a lot of materials just for the sake of enjoying reading. This differs from intensive reading which is reading with a purpose such as learning a certain grammar skill and might include specific activities with the reading. With all the time in the summer, your child can now actually take their time with reading and enjoy the stories.
- Improve motivation to read and learn – A summer reading program can help improve your child’s motivation by actually giving them the time to read and learn at their own pace and curiosity. Children learn best when they are invested in the content. Reading over the summer can help them find new things to become interested in that they might not be introduced to in school.
- Increase creativity and self-esteem – Being able to read at their own pace allows kids to have more time to explore ideas and accomplish reading goals easier. This can help boost their creativity as they explore ideas and books at their own pace. Also, as they finish books, they boost their self-esteem and confidence in reading.
- Help supplement summer learning loss – The summer can often feel like time loss when it comes to education. However, your children can still keep their curiosity and learning alive during the summer break through a reading program. This could also be a great way to get advanced readers to make the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”. Research shows that students that participated in a summer reading program were better prepared for the new school year.
- Enhance comprehension – Once children begin mastering reading comprehension, they begin using reading as a tool to learn. By reading a lot of books and actually enjoying them, they are helping to enhance their comprehension because they are reading to understand the stories rather than for a specified learning goal.
- Boost memory – A big part of reading comprehension is memory. Being able to recall events and information in a story helps your child understand the material better. A summer reading program can help them practice recalling information from books and helps to boost their memory.
How can we get started?
With all the benefits, a summer reading program is clearly a clever way to get kids to become better readers and learners for the upcoming school year. However, what is the best way to get started at home?
There are plenty of established summer reading programs that can help guide you into creating a personalized one for your child. Scholastic and Barnes and Noble have popular programs that have been around for years. However, these programs work from a preselected list of books, so they come with some limitations.
A great way to supplement these lists, or even to create your own reading list, is to utilize a reading app. Readability is a great app to use for supplementing a summer reading list or using it as a summer reading program.
The app has a collection of custom reading materials that are constantly being updated, so your child will never run out of new adventures to start. The app is also great for enhancing reading skills because it can listen to your child read aloud and gives them instant feedback to improve. By using A.I. and speech-recognition, the app acts as a private reading tutor for your child.
Readability is also a great tool for parents to track their child’s reading progress. The app creates progress reports that you can review. Using these progress reports, you can gauge what level of reading your child is in and you can choose the appropriate books to add to their home library.
Now that your children have some time on their hands, you can get them to start reading more and for fun. The key to a successful reading program is to make sure they are reading a lot of books at their own pace and actually enjoying it. Using an app like Readability for a summer reading program is a great way to keep your kids learning even while they are not in school. Reading a lot can help children in many different ways and is a great way to keep that summer boredom at bay.
A six-year-old may either be in kindergarten or entering first grade. At this age, children are learning to read and may be working on phonics skills such as sound blends. Reading comprehension will likely focus on retelling and the ‘wh’ questions (who, what, when, where and how). Teachers in both kindergarten and first grade may have a list of sight words that students are expected to memorize.
Some six-year-olds may pick up reading quickly, while others may take some time. Reading should be fun for kids, but children struggling to read may need extra reading practice and parental help at home. Parents who want to encourage children to read on their own, though, can try these ‘novel ideas’ to help a 6-year-old struggling with reading.
Sight Word Games
Make a game out of learning sight words. Parents can create their own unique game at home or try one of these game ideas to make learning that list of words a bit more fun.
Sight Word Match
Create two cards of each sight word. Draw an accompanying illustration for words that can be depicted with a picture. For example “I” can include a photo of your child. Mix up all the cards and lay them face down. Take turns trying to make matches. Say the word when each card is flipped to help facilitate word recognition and understanding.
Sight Word Go Fish
For this game parents will need to make four cards for every sight word. The deck might be bigger than a traditional deck, but that’s ok. Shuffle the cards, give each player five to seven cards, and take turns asking for a sight word. The rules of this game are the same as Go Fish. If the player asks for a card from another player, and that player doesn’t have the card s/he requested, then the player has to take a card from the main deck.
Sight Word Scavenger Hunt
This game can be played anywhere, but it’s especially fun to play during errands. Give your child a paper with their list of sight words and have them hunt for the words. When the word is discovered, have your child mark it off their list. Words can be discovered on signs, on food labels, in advertisements, etc.
Sight Word Sort
This game is a bit of a hybrid of a cornhole game. Parents can buy buckets or containers (even old coffee tins would work) and label them with a sight word. For every sight word bucket, parents will need to make a sight word ball or bean bag. Children will need to stand behind a marked area (parents can use a string or ruler for children to stand behind). Then they need to try to toss the sight word ball/beanbag into the corresponding bucket. They should read the word on the ball/beanbag before tossing.
Reading Races Can Help Children Practice Reading Fluency
For some children, reading fluency can be a struggle. Children may stumble on words or just might not be confident or comfortable reading out loud. Parents can help children practice fluency by holding reading races.
At school, teachers may ask children to read a paragraph aloud to find how many words per minute they can read fluently. This is an easy lesson for home enrichment, too. Parents can download age-appropriate paragraphs via sites online or they can just ask their child’s teacher for worksheets.
Parents should set a stopwatch and instruct children to read. After one minute, parents should tell students to stop. Parents can then look over the paragraph to see how far their child was able to read. Parents can work with children to help them decipher and sound out difficult words. Then ask the child to read the paragraph again.
Reading Comprehension Games and Activities
Reading comprehension may be a struggle for some 6-year-olds. In kindergarten and first grade, comprehension may focus more on the ‘wh’ questions related to the book, and children also may need to be able to summarize the plot.
Comprehension becomes more difficult and abstract in later elementary years. Children will be expected to infer meaning, predict what might happen next and put themselves in the shoes of the character. Comprehension becomes less black and white and more about reading between the lines. Metaphors, similes and character comparisons also become part of the analysis of a book or story.
Help children work on comprehension using these games and activities at home.
Make a comprehension ball with a beach ball. In each section, write a question or a prompt about the book or story. Toss the ball to the child, and they will need to answer the question on the segment that faces up. Parents can buy comprehension balls online or use online resources to find ideas for section prompts. Parents also can create different balls to work on comprehension related to characters and plot. Many websites and blogs (and Pinterest, too!) offer examples for making comprehension balls.
Become the character! Get the family involved in a play about the book. Help your child recreate a scene or maybe even the whole story via a play. Create costumes or just make homemade puppets to stage the play. For puppets, have children draw the characters on cardstock. Cut them out and paste them on popsicle sticks. Help children write a script for the play. Parents may need to write the script, but children can dictate. This may help them retell the story, too.
This is yet another version of a cornhole game. Parents should make a large mat using poster boards. On this mat, draw six large circles in different colors in a vertical line. In each circle, write a different comprehension prompt. For six-year-olds, parents might want to stick with those ‘wh’ questions. Have children toss a beanbag on the mat/board. Children should answer the prompt where the beanbag lands. Pinterest has a similar type of game using sight words. Parents can create their own unique board, too.
Some activities might not directly help a child’s reading, but they could make them enjoy the reading experience in a unique way. Try these activities to immerse your child’s senses into the reading journey.
Cook a Reading Recipe
Find food in a book the child is reading and prepare it at home. This could be something simple or a unique food. Eating a food that the character enjoys is a fun way to step into the character experience.
Visit a site or location from a book. While parents might not be able to plan a trip to the exact location in the book, think of a similar destination or a place related to the book. For example, if the child is reading a book about dinosaurs, then take a trip to a history museum or science center. The Association of Independent School Librarians offers a great write up related to reading field trips as they relate to history; the books mentioned aren’t for six-year-old reading levels, but the post can help parents of younger children get some ideas on how to create these types of trips.
Listen to the Story
Some children might like to listen to the story as they read. This might help them hear the pronunciation of a difficult word or maybe better understand the inflection of a character’s emotion. Parents may try letting their child listen to a book on tape while reading.
Watch the Movie
Watching the big screen adaptation of a book can be an interesting experience. Some movies based on books might follow the book to the letter. Others veer into a different direction entirely. Watch the movie after reading the book. Encourage children to spot the differences and talk about how the book and the movie compare to each other. How were they similar? How were they different? Ask the child if they liked the book or the movie better.
More Ways to Help a Six-Year-Old Struggling with Reading
While games, activities and out-of-the box enriching sensory experiences can all help children in different ways, sometimes parents just want to find an easy way to help their child. Helping a child might not be simple; some children take time to master reading. Other children may need more enrichment to meet benchmark standards.
Parents who are concerned about their child’s reading struggles might reach out to the child’s teacher. Additional testing or evaluations may be necessary. Or a teacher might be able to provide advice on how to help a child at home.
Parents can work with children at night by reading with them. Parents can help children work on sounding out words and answering the key ‘wh’ questions related to understanding. Children should read books that are at the appropriate reading level—teachers can help parents understand how to identify reading level.
A reading app like Readability also could help a six-year-old struggling with reading. Readability provides a built-in AI tutor that helps children as they read. The tutor corrects pronunciation errors and will ask questions at the end of each story related to comprehension. Children don’t progress to a higher level until they demonstrate mastery at their current level. Books are never too easy or too hard, and content is engaging with interactive features and colorful illustrations.
With a reading app, parents are never in the dark about their child’s progress. Readability provides a Parent Dashboard that displays the child’s reading level, their progress, their time spent on the app as well as other literacy data. In addition, parents also can send literacy reports from the app to the child’s teacher.
Parents interested in using a reading app for their child, however, should be sure to understand billing and pricing structure. Some apps are billed monthly, but others could schedule payments differently. Parents also should be sure that the app fits their child’s needs. Readability helps children with phonics, fluency and comprehension. The app also can be used through sixth grade, so it will grow with younger students.
Ready to try Readability? Sign up for a free trial today!
Not all intervention or enrichment programs work for every child. That’s why there are so many programs out there for reading, math and other subjects, too. With the variety of choices, though, parents might prefer researching a few different options before committing.
However, even that seemingly perfect program can go kaput. When parents are throwing up their arms and typing into any search bar that pops up a desperate plea of “Help! Reading program isn’t working,” instead of scrolling through all the results, it might be time to breathe.
The question parents really want answered is why isn’t the reading program working? And there could be many answers as to why the program isn’t working. However, there are, again, many different reading programs out there. So, for obvious reasons, this article will address five common concerns.
Concern One: My Child isn’t Advancing
Parents want to see results. They want to be able to look at a child’s reading program data and see that their child is progressing. But how does a parent define progress? What are the expectations that parents have of the particular program?
This is an important set of questions, because, sometimes, parents could expect results too quickly or assume that their child should advance at a level each day. How quickly a child advances through a reading program might depend on a lot of factors, including:
The child’s reading level and where that level compares to grade expectations. A child who is several grades behind might take longer to advance. Reading could be especially difficult for them, and they may need to work at a slower pace.
How long the child engages with the program. If a child is reading via the program often, they could progress faster. However, this isn’t always the case. Some children could rush a lesson, and progress could be affected in the negative.
The child’s interest in the program. Is the child engaged? Do they like the content? Are they bored? If a child isn’t interested in the program, they may simply tune out.
The program doesn’t address the child’s needs. Obviously, the program a parent chooses for their child should address the child’s reading struggles. If the program doesn’t provide help or enrichment for these areas of concern, a child might still be struggling and not advance.
Concern 2: My Child Doesn’t Like the Program
A program might not have lessons or books that engage a child and hold their interest. However, there could be other reasons that cause a child not to like a program.
Perhaps the program doesn’t provide feedback to let a child know what they are doing right…or wrong. Maybe there isn’t a type of vocal support that also provides help when a child struggles. For example, Readability offers a built-in AI tutor that will help a child with pronunciation or ask questions about the book (to help measure comprehension).
Books or lessons in the program also could seem boring. Or maybe content is focused on reading level but not at the child’s age level. Even if an older child is reading below grade level, they don’t want to necessarily read books with content geared toward a lower age group.
Concern 3: The Program is Too Easy
While some parents may fear that the program isn’t working, others may be worried that their child is advancing too quickly because the content could be too simple.
This might or might not be the case. The program could be working fine, but maybe the child is advancing quickly because the child is engaged with the stories.
However, if parents feel that the program might be too easy, they may want to sit with the child during lessons and gain a better understanding about the content and how a child moves to the next level of that particular program.
Concern 4: The Program is Too Expensive
Reading programs could vary in price. Some might charge a flat fee, others (like Readability) might charge based on a monthly subscription.
Parents could discover that their budget can’t handle the extra cost. So if a program isn’t working because of the cost, it might be time to investigate other options. First, though, parents might look at their own budget to determine what they can reasonably afford. This can help shopping for a budget-friendly program a bit easier.
Concern 5: The Program is Glitching!
Reading programs should run seamlessly. In a perfect world, this would be the case. Technology, though, isn’t perfect. If the program isn’t literally working, then parents might need to place a call to the company for assistance. This could be an issue that is known, or it could even be an issue with WiFi.
If a child can’t finish their lessons because the system is simply so slow or is glitching, contact the company to help resolve these issues.
Finding a New Program
Parents may realize that the program just isn’t a good fit. Maybe it’s too expensive, maybe it isn’t addressing a child’s needs, or maybe the child simply doesn’t like it. Now what? Finding a new reading program can feel like a challenge. There are, however, many more programs for parents to try.
If the first program just wasn’t the right choice, how can parents find one that is the best for their child? Here are a few things to consider when parents are looking for another reading program:
Is the cost billed each month via subscription? Or is the program a yearly fee? Look at how this price affects the monthly budget and if continuing the program is feasible.
Read the different reviews about the program. Have parents found the program to be beneficial? Reading both positive and negative reviews can help parents find the pros and cons of each program.
Parents should understand the program’s general structure and what reading struggles it aims to help. Some programs—like Readability—help children with both phonics and comprehension. Other programs could be more focused on one particular area of reading. Visit the program’s web site to gain an understanding on how the program helps guide the reading journey and how it addresses struggles during lessons.
Reading programs might not publish any of the books or lessons via a website. However, programs could offer a free trial period to let children and parents learn more about the program. Trial periods are a great opportunity for parents to figure out if their child will enjoy the program…and its content. Programs that offer immersive content and colorful illustrations can help keep a child interested and engaged.
Parents are busy, and many children are busy, too. Sports, clubs and other extracurricular activities mean that sometimes families are rushing from one place to the next. According to the Urban Institute, more than three-quarters (83 percent!) of kids ages 6 to 17 are enrolled in at least one outside school activity (aka extracurricular activity!).Reading lessons should be able to go anywhere…just like a book. Reading programs should be available via app, which makes it accessible on mobile devices…or anywhere with wifi or a hotspot. Children can practice reading at their sibling’s soccer game or during the carpool to robotics club! If life is mobile, then parents might want to choose a reading app that is mobile, too!
Using a Program for the First Time
Whether a parent has just signed a child up for a reading program or the family is switching to a new reading program, parents might want to be involved with those lessons during the first week or so.
Some parents might not have time to sit with a child as they use the program, and this is understandable. Parents often juggle multiple roles throughout the day, and, after school, it may be a rush to practice or to try to whip together a quick dinner.
Parents who can make the time to sit with their child during the program session, though, may be able to gauge their child’s attitude about the program and its content. Parents also can help children navigate through the program and, of course, just sit back and see how the program structures the lessons.
This is also a great time for parents to get acquainted with the program, too. Some programs include a portal for parents that includes data related to progress and engagement with the program. Readability offers the Parent Dashboard, which provides all the data related to the child’s levels and more. Reports on the Dashboard also can be sent to the child’s teacher.
When implementing a reading program at home, parents also might want to keep the child’s teacher in the loop about the enrichment. Teachers and parents can stay connected to better understand the child’s reading progress not just on the program but in the classroom, too. Teachers may communicate reading levels in numbers or letters; for parents who aren’t quite sure what all the codes mean when trying to decipher their child’s reading level, Scholastic breaks down all those numbers and letters into one easy to read chart.
Advancing through the program can help parents understand that their child is reading more fluently and confidently. However, parents also likely want to know that this confidence—and reading proficiency—also is emerging in the classroom, too.
When a reading program isn’t working, parents may be the first to notice. However, there could be many reasons for why the program might not be successful for the child…and there also could be different definitions of “not working.” A reading program might not be a good fit for a family because it’s too costly. For children, the program might not work because it’s too easy or maybe it doesn’t hold their interest. If the program simply isn’t a good fit—for whatever reasons—parents may want to sit down with their child when beginning a new program. This can help parents better understand how their child engages and if the content is a good fit.
Of course, trying out a program can be a great way to find a program that checks off all the boxes. Ready to try Readability? Sign up for a free seven-day trial today!
While the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t set precise screen time limits for older kids, the AAP does recommend limiting screen time to one hour or less each day for younger children (ages two through five). Screen time includes all screens—computers, devices and televisions.
Parents of preschoolers might be extra careful for the screen time they choose to allow their children to engage. When it comes to playing on devices, educational apps could be a better choice than silly videos…and a reading helper app is among the apps perfect for preschoolers.
Before parents hand over those devices to keep preschoolers quiet and happy, they may want to research these 10 educational apps for preschoolers.
Don’t let the name fool you…this app is perfect for children ages two and up (per the app). Shapes! helps children learn shapes, colors and sizes. The app is designed as a game, and parents can choose the level best for their child. The app helps children work on fine-motor skills and attention.
This game features different jigsaw puzzles and lets children color pictures, too. According to the app description, the puzzle game includes 96 puzzles within eight topic packs. After a child completes a puzzle, the app animates to celebrate the success.
Download the PBS Kids app for a variety of different games featuring characters from PBS cartoons and shows. Games can include topics in math, science and engineering and also social skills, too (they can learn more about kindness, emotions, etc.). For kids who love art, there are also games that inspire creativity. In total, PBS Kids offers more than 100 games, and, as kids grow, they can try different games and puzzles within the app.
This is all about spying similarities. Children can sort according to different criteria, including shape, color and season. There are different levels of difficulties…and no ads! The app was developed with educators and child psychologists.
For preschoolers who still need help identifying letters, this app allows children to trace their letters and help them understand the sounds of each letter. The app also includes matching games, and children can collect stickers and prizes as they complete games.
Play songs on a virtual piano and work on hand eye coordination, too. The app features eight songs: “Jingle Bells,” “Happy Birthday,” Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “Pop! Goes the Weasel,“”The Muffin Man,“”Wheels on the Bus,“”Five Little Monkeys,” and “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” Kids don’t have to choose to play piano; they also can play flute, bells, drums, trumpet and more. This is a great app for young children who love music.
Some preschoolers are already learning how to read or are reading fluently. Precocious readers might want to keep reading or work on their skills. Readability helps children with reading fluency, phonics and comprehension. A built-in AI tutor provides correct pronunciation when children stumble and asks questions at the end of each story to gauge a child’s understanding of what they’ve read. Children advance to a harder level only when they display mastery and proficiency.
This app lets users choose from nine languages. Pop the balloons and learn about shapes, numbers, colors and letters. Children can choose from five different game types: simple balloon popping, an alphabet game, a numbers game, a color game and a shape game (this requires in-app purchase).
For five-year old’s about to start kindergarten, start practicing sight words with Sight Words Learning Games. There are more than 200 words to learn!
Children aren’t too young to learn about the stars and the universe. At night, the app will let you use the phone or tablet’s camera to show the stars in the sky; the app will then reveal the constellations and details about those stars. The app also shows satellites, too! This is a great science app for children who are curious about their world and the universe.
Other Ways to Keep Preschoolers Entertained Beyond the Screen
Passing a phone or device over to a preschooler to let them play is easy, and, as many parents know, that device may help a fussy or hungry preschooler stay content and quiet in a busy story or restaurant. Technology might be the emergency default, but at home where the entertainment options are plentiful, boredom can be alleviated with a bit of creativity.
Children might love those screens. They may love to watch videos, play games or listen to music. Devices are fun. Screens are animated—literally. There is visual, auditory and maybe even some sensory stimulation. However, when the advice of medical experts limits screen time to one hour each day, parents might have to pick and choose when those screens come out of hiding.
When kids are clamoring for screen time, when they are bored, maybe getting on each other’s nerves and perhaps even driving parents crazy, there are other options than a device. And play is an important part of learning. Here are 10 easy entertainment solutions for bored and fussy toddlers who might still be stuck at home:
Create a Sculpture
Warning: this can get messy! Homemade dough or even store bought dough, clay or other molding substance can let kids get creative. Grab dough in different colors and give kids cookie cutters to create shapes, designs and characters. Or just let kids mold what they want.
Some molding substances can get into carpets or rugs. Be careful where a child plays with messy dough.
Color a Picture
Get artistic. Every household may have a tin or box of crayons and markers for a spur-of-the-moment art fest. When kids are bored, grab some paper or coloring books and bring out the crayons or other art supplies. Let them draw or make pictures with stickers.
Craft it Up
Encourage kids to make something unique with different supplies. Parents or guardians might have their own unique stash of craft items that could include fabric, beads, feathers, and more. Just beware of any crafty item that could be a choking hazard (like foam letters, beads, etc.).
Build a Fun Fort
Let kids explore their imagination with a fun fort. This is easy to make using two chairs with a blanket thrown over the top. Or create a pillow fort. Even a small tent can be the home of a unique adventure. Grab some flashlights too. And maybe a few stuffed animal friends.
Get Moving Outside
If it’s a nice day outside, go outdoors. Take kids for a walk or encourage them to just play games outside. Grab some hula hoops, balls, bubbles or whatever outdoor toys they love. Physical activity is important for good health.
Read a Book
When kids are bored, encourage them to practice reading. They may have a few easy books that they can read, or encourage them to look at picture books. Parents may also use audio books to read to kids (if parents are busy).
Host an Indoor Olympics
If it’s raining or dreary outdoors, host a fun family Olympics event indoors. Create fun contests that kids (and parents) can do inside…safely. Have three-legged races across the living room, hula hoop competitions or something silly. Make it fun and get creative. Think about each child’s strengths, too, when choosing events.
Turn on the music and…dance! Dancing is great exercise and it’s fun. Choose some kid-friendly tunes and get moving. You might even host a dance competition.
Whether kids have blocks or building bricks, use those building materials to encourage creativity and have children build something new and unique. Or maybe parents come up with a building project.
No matter what the season, the house can always use a bit of cleaning. Have kids help with simple tasks like sorting clean laundry or just picking up their room. Yes, parents can make a game of cleaning. However, keep tasks appropriate for a child’s age and abilities.
When parents are out on errands with preschoolers, giving them a phone or tablet might be an easy solution to keep them entertained. Preschoolers and younger kids, though, should only have an hour a day of screen time per the American Academy of Pediatrics. With screen time limited, parents might wish to choose apps that are educational but structured like a game; while kids can enjoy playing on the app, they are also learning about shapes, letters, numbers or colors. At home, boredom and frustration can be alleviated with fun activities like coloring, playing outdoors, building a fort, dancing, and more.
While many educational games and apps are free, some that focus on more structured learning like Readability may require a subscription. Before committing to a reading app or any subscription-based learning app, parents may wish to inquire about a free trial period to better understand the features and benefits.
Readability offers a seven-day free trial period. Sign up today!