Following a competition to find the best educational apps for parents to engage young children in learning at home, a panel of experts chosen by the UK Department for Education has approved 6 with a focus on early literacy, language and communication.
These apps cover activities ranging from interactive story books, handwriting exercises using Artificial Intelligence, and educational video games. The technology announcement comes as new data reveals three quarters of children aged five and under have used smartphone or tablet apps at least once in the last six months to learn.
The 6 apps - published on the Hungry Little Minds website – are part of the government’s drive to help parents make informed decisions about the use of technology in creating positive learning environments at home.
The expert panel who accredited the apps, chaired by Professor Jackie Marsh of the University of Sheffield and appointed by the Department for Education, included children’s digital media consultants, early learning charities and a Senior Researcher at Oxford University.
UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “The first few years of a child’s life are crucial in equipping them with the skills needed for the classroom, and we are working with families to make it easier to weave early learning into daily activities. We know that the majority of families are using technology in fun and visual ways to support their child’s early education, but it can be difficult for busy parents to work out what content is best. This list of expert-approved apps helps them make confident decisions that benefit their child’s language and literacy skills.”
The chosen apps all met the agreed criteria, including elements of play, interaction, a range of difficulty, and were tested for data privacy and security.
The 6 apps published on the Hungry Little Minds website include:
- Lingumi (For children aged 2 -5): Daily English lessons, including learning games, speech recognition games and video-based tasks to help with a child’s English vocabulary and grammar and getting them speaking their first words from the early years.
- Kaligo (For children aged 3 -5): The first digital handwriting exercise book using a stylus and tablet, built using AI and co-created with teachers, occupational therapists and neuroscientists.
- Phonics Hero (For school-aged children): Over 900 fun, varied and motivating games to take a child step by step through the critical 44 phonetic sounds of the English language.
- Teach Your Monster to Read (For school-aged children): Covers the first two years of learning to read, from matching letters and sounds to enjoying little books, designed in collaboration with leading academics.
- Navigo Game (For school-aged children): Focuses on developing skills that underpin reading, including phonics, letters and sounds, designed by UCL Institute of Education.
- Fonetti (For school-aged children): The world’s first ‘Listening Bookshop’ interacting with children by giving visual cues in real-time as they read aloud and highlighting where the most support is needed.
Jonathan Douglas, Director at the National Literacy Trust, said: "In new research published today by the Department for Education, early education at age two for disadvantaged children is found to have a positive impact on their speaking ability, with learning at home contributing to this. Over half of parents surveyed (52%) say they played pretend games together or took turns playing fun activities with their child every day."
The data highlights the important work by the government to tackle the barriers some parents face in supporting their child’s learning at home, including time, confidence and ideas of things to do. The Hungry Little Minds campaign gives parents access to video tips, advice and suggested games to help with early learning for their children from age 0 to five. This also includes work with businesses and organisations offering a range of initiatives to drive vital early skills, part of a national, society-wide effort.
The campaign is one part of the government’s work to give every child the best start in life, adding to a record investment in childcare and early years education – reaching £3.6 billion in 2020-21 – and giving parents the flexibility they need to be able to balance their work and family lives.
The expert panel included:
- Professor Jackie Marsh - Professor of Education, University of Sheffield (Chair)
- Olivia Dickinson - Digital Consultant at Digital Olive Ltd - Sky Kids, Turner, Discovery Education, Nickelodeon (Deputy-Chair)
- Peter Robinson – Chief Operating Officer, KidsKnowBest
- Antonio Gould – Executive Director, Teach Monster Games Ltd (The Usborne Foundation)
- Dr Rosie Flewitt - Reader in Early Communication and Literacy, UCL Institute of Education
- Sandra Mathers - Senior Researcher, University of Oxford Department of Education
- Jonathan Douglas – Director, National Literacy Trust
- Jane Lewis - Head of UK Programme Development and Quality, Save The Children UK
Sign up to try Lingumi for free here: https://lingumi.com