I used to be so idealistic when it came to raising and educating children. That was before I had any of my own. After nearly five years at this, I am learning (very quickly) to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to judge. Especially when it relates to other parents. We are doing our best – and it’s hard. Especially in today’s world where there are so many avenues for judgement.
Screen-time is one of those areas. Personally, I do try to limit the use of screens in our house. Don’t get me wrong – my kids watch TV shows and movies from time to time. Parents need to catch a break. I understand. We’ve actually just been binging on Octonauts as my kids have both had bouts of the stomach flu. But I do try to be intentional and choose carefully.
When it comes to handheld devices, our rule has been that we will allow my 4 1/2 year old to play with my phone (or on an iPad) when a) we’re at a nice restaurant, or b) when we’re traveling. Fortunately, at this point in our lives, none of these occur regularly, so screen time is a special treat.
I’m sure as my sons get older, I will use technology more in their educational journey, but for now, I try to keep it as screen-free as possible. All that to say, I do have some favorite apps to aid learning that don’t involve screens.
I use the free Spotify app throughout the day. I create various playlists and play the music on my phone using our Bluetooth speaker. Using Spotify, we listen to a range of classical music, children’s songs, educational learning songs, and Christian kids’ songs. We have learned much about nature, science and character building just by listening to some fantastic music on Spotify.
I’ve dedicated a whole post to Audible and how we use it in our house. We listen to audio stories at least twice a day (usually when I need a break from listening to my preschoolers incessant talking) and my son falls asleep listening to a story on Audible each night. We subscribe to Audible.com; however, you can just purchase and listen as you like.
When I make my purchases, I try to find classics that I know we’ll listen to repeatedly, or really long books/collections of stories (some are 5+ hours!). I know that I’ll get lots of use out of these, so they are worth it in quiet time for my brain!
If you don’t know if you’re child will like audiobooks, you can try a free service like Librivox. They provide free classics on audio. My son loves Peter Pan and Black Beauty. It’s a great way to test and see if you’d like to make the investment in an Audible subscription.
Kid’s Listen App
We have a number of favorite podcasts (I’ll write another post about that soon), but a new favorite app is Kid’s Listen. It provides a collection of popular podcasts for kids and includes all genres: stories, science, adventure tales, etc. If you find a podcast you like, you can make a playlist. You can use the app for free (like I do) to help you find great podcasts, or you can subscribe and listen to all the podcasts completely through the app.
If you don’t currently use any of these, at home or as a teacher in the classroom, try one of them! They are all such great learning tools.
Now it’s your turn! Do you have any screen-free apps that promote learning and curiosity?