Childhood development experts recommend limiting “screen time” for preschoolers, and for them, screen time refers to any time plopped in front of an electronic device, whether television, home computer, cell phone, or other device. But let’s be practical: Kids watch TV, use computers, and increasingly, parents are happy to yield their iPads and smart phones to a preschooler for a few precious moments of self-directed play.
So how can you make the most of these troubled waters? Apple’s app store has hundreds of “educational” apps that can be hard to sift through. Here are a few to search for and try out with your preschooler.
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss—this is an electronic and interactive book that lets readers read the book themselves.
Moo, Baa, La La La! for iPad – Boynton—an e-book that also has interactive tasks for each character, as well as a list of kid-friendly webresources, using the art and characters of well-known illustration Sandra Boynton
The Three Little Pigs-Nosy Crow interactive storybook—this is another electronic storybook, which brings this familiar and beloved fairytale to life. The app will read the story, or children can read it themselves, or they can play an interactive game based on the narrative.
Turning away from story and toward preliteracy skill development, there are a number of apps designed to teach and test skills.
SoundLiteracy—helps children build phonemic awareness through an interactive playspace where they can combine letters and hear the sounds these letters make together
abc PocketPhonics: letter sounds & writing + first words—this app is friendly to young children than SoundLiteracy, and helps children practice their letters, the names of the letters, the shape of the letters, and the sounds they make.
As always, preview and test these apps before turning your device over to your child. App development is a fast-moving and dynamic process, and you may find that these have newer versions, or that there are free or lower cost alternatives. Remember—limit screen time as much as possible, and if you are letting your preschooler use your iPad, one of these might come in handy.