Did you know that, over the summer months, your child loses math computational skills, as well as reading and spelling abilities? He may also score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than he did at the beginning of summer vacation. This phenomenon is known as summer learning loss, and it occurs over the summer months when children are not engaging in daily academic enrichment. According to some studies, summer learning loss can follow students beyond middle school. Here’s the theory: each summer results in learning loss, and those losses can accumulate over the years, causing the student to eventually perform below their grade level.
This summer, keep your kids’ minds engaged with fun apps that reinforce concepts learned during the school year. Here are five with top ratings:
1. ABC Mouse.com – (for ages 2-7)
For reading, writing & math skills
Rated #1 educational app for kids by PC Magazine, the makers of this app claim it can “help kids learn 2 to 3 times faster.” And the app offers hundreds of entertaining activities to help the learning process. Each activity is geared to a specific topic (e.g., “Prospector Pete” unearths new letter combinations). There are songs, puzzles, animations, and music. The app’s varied curriculum keeps children, along with their parents, interested and learning!
What ABC Mouse.com offers:
Word games, Kindergarten curriculum, math, reading & language arts, and science & social studies.
Lessons across eight levels: Kids can begin at any level and will be guided to the lessons that are appropriate.
Devices: Tablets, smartphones or laptops
Cost: First month free; $7.95/month thereafter
2. AlphaTots – (for age 3+)
For reading skills
Rated 5 stars (“Excellent” educational app) by Common Sense Media, this app is entertaining and chock-full of clever interactive activities. It reinforces letters, with many opportunities to interact. The special aspect of this app is that it “transforms” the learning process into a game. This is one of the reasons kids want to use it again and again.
What AlphaTots offers:
This is an excellent tool for helping kids learn the alphabet.
The app includes activities that help children know their alphabet not only by seeing it but also by learning the phonetic pronunciation. Each letter’s sound is given so kids can easily identify their ABCs in everyday life.
Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, Nook HD
3. DragonBox Algebra 5+ & 12+ (for ages 5+ & above)
For math skills
Given 5 stars by Common Sense Media, both the 5+ and 12+ versions of this app use gameplay to help kids learn concepts for solving equations in algebra. The 5+ version is the introduction to this method of learning, while the 12+ includes more advanced topics in math and algebra. Your child does not need a user account for these apps, which include links to the developer’s website. The 5+ app offers an easy way to learn how to do things like isolate “x” in algebraic equations. Questions start with simple concepts and graphics. As learning progresses, some images are replaced by numbers, letters and more—adding more complex elements. To make learning even more fun, kids can earn dragons as they move through each level! What kid doesn’t love dragons?
What DragonBox Algebra 5+ offers:
Your child can learn the concepts of algebra in an easy, engaging way.
For a minimal charge, you can get an expansion pack with two times as many puzzles.
The app puts the “rules of math” into the “rules of the game,” and so gives kids incentive to learn math just by playing (e.g., they want to watch their dragons grow).
What DragonBox Algebra 12+ offers:
Negative and positive signs
What parentheses mean in math and algebra
Addition of fractions (common denominators)
Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, KindleFire Apps for Windows, Windows Phone
Cost: $5.99 for version 5+; $7.99 for version 12+
4. DOGO News (for age 9+)
News / modern history skills
Rated 4 out of 5 stars on Common Sense Media, DOGO News offers an enticing way for kids to learn about world events. They can search for news stories with photos and can browse by science, green, sports, and more. The app uses “to-the-point” info and presents interesting topics for boys and girls. Kids also confirm that it’s a great place if you have to do current events in school or want to learn more about news from around the world.
The social media iDogo accounts screen out children below age 13. They do allow older kids (13+) the chance to comment on stories, pick favorites, follow others and accept followers. Parents don’t need to be concerned about safety, as kids choose a screen name. Kids below age 13 are encouraged to use a parent’s email and a nickname.
5. Periodic Table (for high-school ages)
For math & science skills
Rated 4.2 out of 5 stars on Google Play, this excellent app by Socratica, LLC contains a great depth of knowledge. The company itself was founded by people with degrees from Caltech and experience in organizations ranging from pharmaceutical companies to Google. This vast knowledge shows in the information introduced in this amazing app, where users are urged to learn at their own pace in their individual, unique learning styles.
Users can easily learn the periodic table of elements with this app. There are dozens of facts about each element and audio clips to help them pronounce each element. And now they can learn many chemistry terms with Socratica’s YouTube videos, which are available in many languages. Socratica participated in the 2016 class of YouTube NextUp? This is a program to support and nourish up-and-coming YouTube channels. Even Socratica itself keeps its learning fresh!
Devices: Android, Tablet, laptop