The Best Gaming Apps For Preschoolers
There’s no denying that today’s children are leading “technologised childhoods”.
While gaming used to be reserved for teens and young adults, younger and younger children (including preschoolers) are now often part of the gaming scene.
This divides parents, educators and psychologists. On one hand, there is emerging evidence to confirm that gaming is a valid way for preschoolers to learn.
But on the other hand, the thought of little ones “gaming” is quite terrifying.
Why are preschoolers gaming?
Part of this demographic shift in gaming is due to the advent of mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. The increasing availability of these devices means that preschoolers now have easy (and frequent) access to powerful gaming platforms.
Often preschoolers enjoy the gaming experience (as do lots of adults). Gaming can be a great way to teach educational skills and content (and yes, I did just say gaming can be educational).
When appropriate games are used, children are presented with learning tasks that are pitched at just the right level of difficulty. In doing so, preschoolers can be appropriately challenged. I like to think of this as the “Goldilocks principle”. Not too hard, not too easy, it’s just right.
Not surprisingly there is an abundance of gaming apps in the app market specifically targeting preschoolers.
What are the best gaming apps for preschoolers?
Look for gaming apps that have some educational content. This way you can help your little one learn some important skills and concepts and at the same time they’re enjoying the experience. It’s a win-win for both parties.
My recommended gaming apps for preschoolers
Bugs and Buttons (iPhone or iPad)- this app contains 18 games that develop problem solving, visual discrimination and counting skills.
Alpha Tots (iPhone or iPad )- this app develops some basic understandings of phonics and letter names.
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox (iPhone or iPad)- This popular preschool app teaches colours, letters, counting, shapes, sizes, matching and observation skills.
Playtime With Dora The Explorer (iPad or iPhone)- a fun app that develops children’s observation skills (which is a necessary pre-requisite for learning to read).
Use gaming apps sparingly with preschoolers. Sure, they can be a fun way for preschoolers to learn and explore new ideas.
But preschoolers can become very “attached ” to these types of apps with their very overt reward systems and copious amounts of praise (“Well done. You selected the red triangle. Have a star”.)
Gaming apps are designed to have some sort of extrinsic reward system. They usually provide lots of verbal (“Good job. Have 10 points.”), or visual rewards (children are issued with stickers or points or advance a level in the game). reschoolers can become very contingent upon these external rewards.
Have you ever given a preschooler a sticker for a positive behaviour and then had them ask for a sticker every single time they demonstrate the exact same behavior?