DfE recommends parents use apps to help pre-school children learn at home
Friday, February 21, 2020
A number of educational apps for two- to five-year-olds have received a stamp of approval from the Department for Education, to encourage parents to boost their children’s learning at home in speaking, writing and reading.
Following a competition, a panel of experts has accredited six apps, with a focus on early literacy, language and communication.
The apps are published on the Hungry Little Minds website https://hungrylittleminds.campaign.gov.uk
This gives parents access to video tips, advice and suggested games to help with early learning for their children from birth to five.
The DfE said the move was part of the Government’s drive to help parents make informed decisions about the use of technology in creating positive learning environments at home.
The expert panel was chaired by Jackie Marsh, professor of education at the University of Sheffield, and was appointed by the DfE. It included children’s digital media consultants, early learning charities and researchers at universities.
An update to the DfE's parents' survey, also published today, found that more than half of parents surveyed (52 per cent) said they played pretend games together or took turns playing fun activities with their child every day.
The same research also reveals that three-quarters of children aged five and under have used smartphone or tablet apps at least once in the last six months to learn.
The six apps are:
- Lingumi (For two- to five-year-olds): Sets of learning games, speech recognition games and video-based games to help with a child’s grammar and getting them speaking their first words early on.
- Kaligo (For three- to five-year-olds): Claims to be the first digital handwriting exercise book using a stylus and tablet, built using AI and co-created with teachers, occupational therapists and neuroscientists (pictured above).
- Phonics Hero (For school-aged children): Over 850 fun, varied and motivating games take a child step-by-step through the 44 sounds, the reading and spelling of words, and how to conquer sentences.
- Teach Your Monster to Read (For school-aged children): Covers the first two years of learning to read, from matching letters and sounds to enjoying little books, designed in collaboration with leading academics.
- Navigo Game (For school-aged children): Focuses on developing skills that underpin reading, including phonics, letters and sounds, designed by UCL Institute of Education and Fish in a Bottle.
- Fonetti (For school-aged children): The world’s first ‘Listening Bookshop’ interacting with children by giving visual cues in real-time as they read aloud and highlighting where the most support is needed.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said, ‘The first few years of a child’s life are crucial in equipping them with the skills needed for the classroom, and we are working with families to make it easier to weave early learning into daily activities.
‘We know that the majority of families are using technology in fun and visual ways to support their child’s early education, but it can be difficult for busy parents to work out what content is best.
‘This list of expert-approved apps helps them make confident decisions that benefit their child’s language and literacy skills.’
The approved apps all meet agreed criteria, including elements of play, interaction and ranging levels of difficulty.
The DfE said the list of accredited apps built on the Hungry Little Minds campaign, by helping parents choose from hundreds of apps available on the market.
Chair of the expert panel Professor Marsh, said, ‘The panel is delighted with the approved apps, as they all offer valuable opportunities to support children’s early literacy development.
'Apps that are of most educational value to children contain a number of features, such as a design which makes the app easy to use and also offers guidance and support for parents, enabling the content to be adjusted for individual children.
'Apps should also be engaging and fun to use, with clear learning goals and the use of feedback that can be reassuring and motivating for children. All of the approved apps contain these features, and we are confident that they can have a positive impact on children’s early literacy learning.’
Panel member Jonathan Douglas, director at the National Literacy Trust, said, ‘Early language skills are the foundation of all literacy and learning and parents have a uniquely powerful role in developing these skills in their children through talking and reading together.
‘Technology is now such a powerful component of the home that it’s important to recognise the powerful resource it can be in enriching these interactions. We believe that the apps, which we have chosen, will help parents feed their children’s hungry little minds with great stories, exciting and fun experience of language and offer the support for the early reading experiences which provide the foundation for a lifetime of learning.’