We live in a time where technology plays a huge part in our everyday life. From work to turning lights on in your home, and to educating and entertaining kids.
As parents sometimes we need a little break and a little quiet from everything, and yes that means kids too. So what do we do? The internet, a computer, a tablet, a phone. It is a bit controversial because we do not want to rot our kid’s brains like others say we may be doing but, we want to make sure they are seeing good, quality content.
Not things with meaningless activities. Online games can be a good additive for our children’s education because let’s face it, parents – we do not know everything. When we don’t have the answers where do we turn to? The internet. Google.
Sometimes our kids just can not get all of the knowledge from us. So we send them to school or books, or the web to learn more. Sometimes these websites actually work. My 8-year-old son can get very frustrated when I or his dad tries to teach him stuff. Sometimes he just does not get it.
Then something magical happens when he sees it in a different form. Like a game, or a video. He understands. He gets excited, and the end result being he wants to do more. Why not add to it? Letting him learn at his pace, and discovering things that HE finds interesting.
This could open a door to new knowledge. I had a huge revelation just the other day. My 4-year-old recently just seemed to have lost interest in learning his ABC’s and counting, heck even colors. And then one day something amazing happened.
He could tell me 90% of the alphabet. He knows his colors and can count pretty well.
Why? Because the content on his tablet helped him.
It taught him in a way that I did not know possible or even how to do. When I asked him how he learned it all he showed me games on his tablet that we had downloaded. He loves them, he learns from them. How awesome is that?
There are so many websites out there for every age. So let’s check some of the best out, from a mom’s perspective.
Educational websites for ages 1-2:
*Please be aware, The best learning for babies this young is hands on reading, and hands on playing. They will not get the same education online as they will real life. Take time to sit with your baby and play along with them. Connect with them while enjoying these websites. Sing along with songs, count out loud with the videos, read along as well. This will benefit your baby and make you feel satisfied as well.*
This site is adorable. As toddlers our kids are always playing with some kind of fisher-price toy that they love. Now they can play along with them online. Your baby will be introduced the basics while incorporating song. They will learn things from color, ABC’s, even how to roll and ball and dance.
Kneebouncers is an interactive and award winning site that has a free 7 day trial you can try before you decide! Here, your baby will watch fun videos, and even be able to do baby-friendly activities (there is digital baby pee-a-boo!!). There are no ads, pop ups or links for little hands to accidentally click on.
How cute! The characters at Babyfirst are so so cute! They will show your baby how to build blocks, make art and music! There are also TV shows, games and nursery rhymes.
Free games are the best games I always say. Babies can color and play games by simply swiping or tapping. Your little one can also put puzzles together or make their growing brain work with the memory games offered.
Yes, I know some of you are probably gasping. BUT if properly monitored Youtube can be great. There are so many videos out there that can engage your child and a lot of other websites link up with Youtube.
There are so many nursery rhymes, counting videos, art, music, and sing-alongs. Youtube is definitely one to consider. They also offer a kid version of Youtube that is supposed to be a lot safer and monitored better than the regular site.
Educational websites for ages 3-5:
With this website, you can read Agnitus books online with your touch device! This site transforms the classic tales into awesome learning opportunities. Your child will build confidence with new vocabulary he/she will use for independent reading.
Nick Jr is such a fun site. There are so many characters to interact with here. Head to the water park with Blaze the Monster Machine, train on special missions with Paw Patrol, or get creative with the girls at Sunny’s salon, solve problems with Team Umizoomi, and go exploring with Dora the Explorer. The possibilities are endless.
This one is probably a no brainer. The commercials are all over TV, even ads that pop up. ABCMouse is even a great resource for homeschooling families. With an online classroom, you can track your child’s progress and see how he/she is doing.
So many parents and even teachers recommend this site, and swear by it. They say your child will bloom into and amazing reader as there are over 450 books. They will learn math skills for school, social studies, science, art and even the world around us.
ABCMouse is one of the top online sites, but there is a subscription you have to pay for.
Cookie offers a huge range in online activities. Examples include: pattern matching, learning the months, length and even mixing art with math! Cookie also offers printables so you can keep the fun and learning going offline.
PBS Kids has been around for a long time, I personally remember growing up and playing some of these games on our dial up internet.
Now my kid play them. They can grow a flower garden with Curious George, camp out with Buddy the T-Rex, hang out with Seasme Street, learn about animals with the Wild Kratts and visit with Pinkalicious and Peterific.
Also as an App, Bed Time Math has fun math problems every night to do with your kids. This is a more family involved site, which I think is great. You can also purchase books for offline learning.
Math problems on Bed Time Math take about 5 minutes to do. Last night’s for example gave a small paragraph to read on koalas. Then they break math problems down for different ages (wee ones, little kids, and the big kids). Smaller kids do the simpler problems like, “Can you fit your arms around a tree branch like koalas?”
The bigger kids also get a bonus question at the end of the problem. I love this website as it gets everyone working together and thinking.
Funbrain Jr is such a great and fun website that allows parents the ability to sit and interact with their kids while their kids enjoy this site. Funbrain Jr is super easy to navigate. It is simple, yet captivating.
Games include: Deep Letter Dive, Heat Wave, Puzzle Me, and Rhyme Time. Parents can also read books online here to their kids. They have quite a few to choose from like “Wilma Wigsticker’s High Diving Day” for example. There is also a printable section that has a lot to choose from!
Categories include coloring, math, mazes, literary skills, and matching pages. There are so many options, even a sticker section! This site is great for building up to the regular FunBrain website when they are older.
I was not sure if I should include this one since it is mainly TV shows but there is also learning to be done here as well. You can log on to the site and set the kids up on the Kid portion of Netflix and they can watch informational shows.
Educational websites for ages 6-8:
There are hundreds of games here! Funbrain does have ads so make sure your pop up blockers are on. Offered here are entire books that your child can read through. The games are simple and easy to understand but the graphics are great!
Starfall is another one that you have most likely heard of, they are also one of the top and another great resource for homeschooling families. I actually have family who uses this to help her kids with their work and they love it! Educational but your kids actually learn here instead of just playing video games. Teaching through play children will learn and play games in math, reading, and writing!
This is one of my favorites, and my sons love it! We love watching Nat Geo on the TV and so this just adds to all of the curiosity and fun. This is pretty much a huge online magazine with tons of learning opportunities. With information on the world around us, the kids have access to videos, articles and competition. NatGeo regularly updates their web content so there is always new stuff to learn about all of the time.
This is an awesome opportunity for your little space lover or future astronaut. How cool would it be to see all of the cool pictures of rockets and planets?? Your child can also access NASA TV and even see past and present space missions. In my opinion I think that is super cool and may even be able to help with science fair projects or even science homework.
Though this Discovery Family site is a bit video heavy, there is so much kids can learn about here. There are tons of videos, articles, games and even Ebooks to choose from. Kids will learn about things from dinosaurs, scorpions, and the largest fish out there!
From the Shaun the Sheep animated movie, this Game Academy teaches your kids all about the newest craze of coding using the amazing Scratch software. Doing so removes a huge learning curve. Coding has become the newest coolest thing that almost all kids are wanting to try at some point or another. They will learn problem solving, using logic, creativity and analytical thinking when they are coding games. This will also help them in the future if they ever want to have a career in gaming, animation or computer engineering.
I also remember playing this one in elementary school in the computer lab. Primary games has a mix of content. From survival games like Red Beard, to learning games. They offer math games, problem solving games. Be careful though because not all of these are educational, so be aware of that.
Many of these websites are also available as Apps.
There are so many out there in the app stores that will also benefit your kids. Always preview before you let them play. In closing this article I feel the need to remind you to please always monitor screen time with your kids. I should not have to say it but it is important.
Most kids ages 2-5 are looking at screens between 2-3 hours a day. Kids age 8-18 are looking at screens for 7 or more hours a day. That is a lot!
A recent warning from the AHA recommends a maximum amount of 2 hours for 8-18-year-olds and a maximum of 1 hour for ages 2-5. Too much screen time can delay physical and emotional development.
As amazing as the internet is, we still need to protect our innocent babies from evils of the world. In the time that your children are playing these games and learning, I encourage you to just watch them.
Look at how they are reacting to the content. How amazed they are. And most of all listen to them learn. When a child finally understands something, the way their eyes light up is amazing.
You will hear them answer questions or maybe come up with new questions. Enjoy the internet responsibly and have fun! Happy learning and growing to all.