When it comes to acquiring knowledge, it’s never too early to start creating a learning journey for your little ones. This journey must involve interactions with people, animals, objects, and the surrounding environment, as they play a key role in kids’ cognitive development.
In addition to these real-life experiences, learning apps for kids can also enhance their educational development, as digital interactions are becoming a bigger part of children’s everyday lives. However, specialists advise that screen time isn’t appropriate for children under age two.
Still, toddlers can enjoy learning new things through educational apps, as they’re beneficial for 2-year-olds and above if used with caution and moderation. These apps are valuable in helping kids develop early digital literacy, as they keep them interested in learning and, most importantly, make screen time meaningful.
However, it’s crucial to carefully choose the appropriate app that truly caters to your child’s needs and learning goals.
Best Learning Apps for Toddlers in 2024
ABCmouse is excellent for toddlers as it features over 10,000 age-appropriate activities designed using engaging animations and songs that captivate kids. Among the content offered, parents and educators find useful concepts that prepare the little ones for preschool.
The activities focus on phonics, early reading, math, art, social studies, and science fundamentals. Plus, the app encourages toddlers to learn through play and exploration, as it offers several highly interactive games and puzzles.
ABCmouse allows up to three profiles under the same subscription and is available on desktop and mobile devices. Those who go for the annual plan enjoy a massive discount, and there’s a 30-day free trial that gives users the opportunity to test the app before subscribing.
HOMER is the perfect option for those looking for an educational app that offers subjects centered around 21st century skills. Over 1,000 fun games and engaging activities cover topics regarding social and emotional learning, creativity, and critical thinking. It also includes traditional school subjects like math and science.
The content provided is based on HOMER’s scientifically proven method and is molded to each child’s age and abilities. Plus, toddlers have no trouble exploring it, as the captivating designs and big buttons make it a piece of cake for them to use.
Moreover, parents can add up to four profiles under the same subscription, and committing to the annual plan equates to great discounts. Additionally, there’s a 30-day free trial allowing you to test the app before subscribing.
Khan Academy Kids
Khan Academy Kids offers high-quality content in various subjects, such as early literacy, reading, writing, language, and math. It also features topics that encourage creativity and help kids build social skills.
The app uses storytelling to catch toddlers’ attention and keep them interested in learning, with whimsical characters guiding the lessons and activities. Toddlers can enjoy games, animations, and videos. Plus, each child’s learning path is personalized according to their own pace.
The best part about Khan Academy Kids is that it’s entirely free, with no ads or external links that can distract or lead children to inappropriate content.
Hungry Caterpillar Play School
This app was inspired by the popular book – usually a favorite among the little ones – ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’. One of the reasons why Hungry Caterpillar Play School is a fantastic option for toddlers is that many kids are familiar with the story’s characters, which contributes to captivating and engaging them in the learning journey.
With Hungry Caterpillar Play School, kids aged 2 to 6 study math, spelling, reading, writing concepts, science, and nature. The app is designed for children to learn through exploration and creativity, providing several e-books, videos, and highly interactive activities.
Plus, a 3D playground for kids to explore shapes and colors helps them develop recognition, logic, and other cognitive skills. The cherry on top is that the app’s resources are particularly catered to neurodiverse children.
Android and iOS users can download the app for free but should be wary of the various in-app purchases there are on offer.
TeachMe: Preschool, formerly TeachMe: Toddler, is designed for toddlers and preschoolers. The app’s lessons and activities explore several age-appropriate subjects, including letters, ABC phonics, numbers, shapes, and colors.
Progress tracking allows parents to check their children’s performance across the activities, which is crucial for assessing their strengths and difficulties. Besides an easy-to-navigate interface, the app features a positive reinforcement system that rewards kids with coins for correct answers.
Kids can use the coins to purchase over 150 stickers and place them in six different sticker reward scenes. This system is excellent for keeping toddlers engaged in the learning process.
Moreover, the app is available for iOS and Android users and doesn’t require additional subscription plans.
Key Features To Look for in a Learning App for a Toddler
Numerous apps for toddlers are available in all shapes and sizes. However, choosing the one that meets kids’ best interests requires attention to the following details:
- Age-appropriate content: The lessons, activities, and games offered by the app must promote subjects related to early learning skills, such as the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, and vocabulary building.
- Interactivity: The learning environment the app provides has to be highly interactive and engaging. Activities must contain hands-on elements like drag-and-drop tools, swiping, and tapping.
- Ease of use: The app must have clear and straightforward instructions, its interface should be visually appealing for kids, and the buttons and controls must be designed for toddlers to easily navigate.
- Progress tracking: It’s crucial that the app allows parents and educators to follow kids’ progress, with reports that show the areas in which toddlers are excelling and those that need extra attention.
- Parental controls and privacy measures: Make sure the chosen app respects kids’ data privacy and allows you to set parental control measures like screen time and specific content limits, alongside being able to prevent accidental purchases.
The Benefits of Educational Apps for Toddlers
Educational apps prepare toddlers for preschool and stimulate cognitive development through an engaging and captivating learning environment. Other benefits these apps bring for 2-year-olds and above include:
- Fine motor skills development: Tapping, dragging, and swiping tools help toddlers acquire fine motor skills, which are essential for activities like drawing and writing.
- Language development: Many apps include audio elements that help toddlers familiarize themselves with spoken words, pronunciation, and language patterns.
- 21st century skills: Several educational apps include creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking topics among their subjects.
- Parent-child interaction: Parents can spend quality time with their toddlers exploring the apps and helping them with any struggles they may face along the way.
- Add value to screen time: as the tech industry is increasingly appealing to children, it’s impossible to simply avoid kid’s exposure to screens. Learning apps are excellent allies for parents and educators to make screen time meaningful.
How To Keep Your Toddler Safe While Using an App
Although educational apps are excellent for toddlers’ cognitive and social skills development, they should be used as complementary educational materials. Real-life activities and human interactions should take up most of a toddler’s time, as they’re essential for developing a comprehensive understanding of the world and the surrounding environment.
Screen usage should be limited and supplemental, as excessive exposure to screens has several detrimental effects on social and emotional growth and increases the likelihood of obesity, sleep disorders, and mental health conditions.
So, limiting toddlers’ time using learning apps is essential to maintaining a healthy relationship between kids and screens. The recommendation is that kids ages 2 to 12 only use screens for one hour daily. Parental control apps can help set screen time limits and device blocks. They’re also useful for ensuring that kids aren’t exposed to inappropriate content.
All in all, when used responsibly, the advantages of educational apps for toddlers unquestionably outweigh the potential drawbacks. As long as they’re used in moderation and under parental guidance, these apps are powerful tools that enhance early education, improve cognitive development, increase problem-solving skills, and foster a love of learning.