Summer break is about fun, sun...and the inevitable learning slide. While kids need to let loose and enjoy a few months off from school, you don't want them to go back in the fall having forgotten the concepts they worked so hard to master the year before.
That's where our picks for the best apps to slow the summer learning slide come in. Whether you've got a preschooler or a high schooler, your child is going to love these fun, educational programs that promise to keep them sharp over the summer. Psst, you don't even have to mention the educational part!
McGraw Hill has created ALEKS, an app for desktop and tablet, so it actually learns from each individual student's grasp of math and science and then tailors a program just for him or her. Kids from kindergarten through 12th grade can take this app's adaptive quizzes and use its content in short study bursts of 15 minutes to 1 hour, making ALEKS a perfect fit for summer learning. Price: $7-$90, depending on course product selected.
Available on mobile or tablet, Babbel offers a fun and easy way for kids of all ages to study 14 different languages. Since this learning system travels with your family, kids can learn to speak, write and understand a new language at their own pace as they enjoy the summer at home or away. A free trial is available, and monthly subscriptions start at $6.95.
Available for iPad and desktop, GALXYZ is the perfect app to keep kids ages 6 to 11 engaged in science this summer. GALXYZ offers free and paid levels (the entire bundle caps out at $99) and follows classroom curriculum, using compelling stories and adventure games to foster problem solving skills and an interest in science.
Free on iOS, Android and desktop, this app is for both kids and parents. Parents log in to Chore Monster to create a list of chores and rewards for kids; kids log in to check their to-do list and keep track of their points. This family integrated program is a great way for children to maintain a sense of responsibility during the lazy summer months, while also learning the value of money and rewards.
For the preschool set comes BabyTV, a channel for kids younger than 4 that features apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and Kindle. Subscribers get access to hundreds of episodes of entertaining and informative shows like Flip & Flash, an app that uses matching, sorting and guessing games to introduce new words. Or Learning Games for Kids, which features games to introduce color recognition, matching, sorting and numeracy. Monthly subscription rates are available from $2.99 to $4.99, depending on the device. Some content is available for free.
Caillou Search & Count
Another app for the tiny tykes in your house, ages 3 to 5, is Caillou Search & Count. If your child likes Calilou (and what preschooler doesn't?), he or she will love playing hide and seek with a favorite cartoon character. Meanwhile, through music, voice, animation and game play, kiddos learn counting, observation skills and hand-eye coordination. It will be available soon for smartphones or tablets, and it's free with premium game features starting at $2.99.
Paging little ones headed to kindergarten! Curious World is the perfect app to get your soon-to-be big kid ready for school. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt created this free program to foster math, reading readiness and social skills. Kids will love the flashcard feature!
Debra Finger, assistant director of educational technology and lower school technology facilitator at The Shipley School, suggests Epic, which is a comprehensive online library for kids ages 2 to 12. Available for iPhone, iPad and desktop, families get access to thousands of books on all subject matters. It's free for a month trial and $4.99 per month thereafter.
Finger also recommends Our Story, a free app for the iPad that offers kids a great way to document their summers. Using photos, text and narration, aspiring authors create a story about their experiences while on hiatus from school.
World of Madagascar
From JumpStart in partnership with DreamWorks comes a fun, educational app for kids in kindergarten through third grade that allows them to engage with the Penguins! World of Madagascar themed language arts and math games incorporate curriculum-based content that reinforces the skills taught during the school year. It's available on desktop and is coming soon on mobile. It's free to play, but additional games and content are available by subscription for $8.99 per month.
Here's to a summer full of adventures in learning!