On the face of it, this seems like a very bad idea. Encouraging your children to use their smartphones and tablets more than usual. To do work! Surely, any precious free time should be spent climbing trees and reading, or hanging out with real people. Except, in reality, even those of us that fit in time for these other activities know that .... there will be times when you are waiting at the dentist, for a brother or sister to finish swimming club or when it’s raining and you have used all your brain reserves to conjure up exciting conversation topics, to do a crossword together (maybe?!) and the Rubik’s cube has been solved... at these times, in 2018... the smart phone might be the answer. Let’s face it. Social media and technology are part of most young people’s existence. So it makes sense to present good ways to use the technology well.
Inspired by my daughter who has been desperate for me to write this list for a few weeks now, I bring you Jumping Yak-authorised-goodness for your children’s hand-held devices. These screen-vitamins for junior school children are surely what the inventors of the tablet would have pitched to parents in their product launch. This is about quality and not quantity. Embrace the use of handheld devices in your home by encouraging good screen time with apps that will not only help your child to learn but more importantly will allow them to have fun while they do.
If you are lucky enough to have children who are still hand-held-device free, prepare for the inevitable Pandora’s box of apps by setting out the framework for good tablet/phone habits that we all wish we had. This is the ideal time for you to get involved. Right now. Before it’s too late!
Without further ado, let’s enter the alternative screen time arena.
1. STACK THE COUNTRIES - (Geography)
The game that makes learning about the world fun. You learn countries, capitals, landmarks and geographic locations as you carefully build a stack of countries. When you reach the checkered line you win a country and a personalised map of the world shows the countries you have collected. Try to collect all 193. There are also flash cards so you can learn before you play. My children have an extensive knowledge of exactly where every single country in the world is, including the very detailed positioning of the archipelagoes in Oceania. Useful if we ever go to Micronesia.
2. BRAIN IT ON - (Physics)
Draw shapes to solve challenging physics puzzles which are not as easy as they look. This one is quite addictive and the physics element makes you feel good about the time you spend and working as a team with an adult perhaps, demonstrates the value of teamwork.
3. SQUEEBLES - (Maths)
Earn squeebles, make cakes, race cars … this is basically maths cunningly disguised in a game. NB You will have to add, subtract, mulitply and divide to earn your squeebles but then again … that’s the point of an educational app isn’t it?!
4. WORD COLLAPSE - (English)
This game tests your recognition of hidden words in a puzzle. Choose a theme from fruits, animals, cities, sport and so on, and then swipe away the words to clear the board.
5. ONE LINE - (Reasoning)
Spatial reasoning and logic. A mind challenging game with simple rules: try to connect all the dots with only one line. Genius!
6. DK QUIZ- (General Knowledge)
Test your knowledge in entertainment, food, history, nature, sport and science - and these are just some of the many categories. The multiple choice element makes it easier to play and easier to learn.
7. MONSTER PHYSICS - (Engineering and Physics)
If they love Minecraft, this is, in my opinion a far better option. A building app that lets you play with physics. You can build and operate your own car, crane, rocket ship, plane and more. Once built, you can drive your vehicle around and embark on a mission. In addition to lessons on basic physics concepts such as friction, mass, acceleration and so on, the tutorials teach you how to apply the physics. Top tip: let them do the tutorials or they won't know their loose joints from their motor joints, and their cannons from their propellers.
(On Andriod, try: Machinery Physics Puzzle)
Those are the 7 gems of wisdom for some guilt-free screen time, BUT.... as a bonus, one extra app in case all of this has brought you out in a cold academic sweat.
We are all familiar with mindfulness and experts say the brain experiences relief by entering a meditative state allowing stress and anxiety levels to be lowered. This is what you achieve when you embark on mindful colouring and you can even do it without crayons and paper: ridiculous ....but fun!
Try PolyColor - Color by Polygon - colouring template mosaics with polygons. It doesn’t work for everyone but it’s definitely worth a try.
All of these Apps have a 4+ rating. Be aware that certain apps for smartphones are rated 9+, 12+, 13+ and above. Look at any app before you load it onto your child’s phone and be aware that the restrictions are usually there because of advertising, shared personal information etc., and also because content may include simulated gambling, violence, inappropriate content and so on.
Next week I will share with you my gems of wisdom on how to manage screen time and some websites that will give you more information on all things internet related.
Until then, dear readers, a bientôt!