The 12 Best Educational Apps for Kids

Educational Shows for kids

While the thought of only allowing our children to play with adorable Montessori toys for babies and kids is nice, the reality of the situation is that they’re probably bound to end up on a phone or tablet at some point. 

I’m a prime example.

Before I had kids, you know back when I was the “perfect mother,” I was one of those types that poo-pooed the idea of seemingly blasphemous parenting decisions.

These included such “terrible” things like: screen time, pre-packaged baby food, and the cry it out sleeping method.

Boy, was I naive and ridiculous.

As I sat spouting off lines about social child development and poor educational opportunities, I can only assume that everyone who already had kids was 100% roasting my stupidity in the privacy of their own home.

Once I became a parent and the flight or fight instinct kicked in, I finally realized that you have to do what you’ve got to do in some situations.

Take restaurants, for example.

Instead of allowing my children to scream and cry like banshees because they’re bored, I’m more than willing to pawn off my phone and enjoy my meal in peace.

What I’ve finally come to realize is that it’s not so much what you’re doing as a parent, as much as it’s about HOW you’re doing it. 

Consider screen time, for instance. Maybe it’s not so much about handing them a phone or tablet as much as it’s about finding the right educational apps for kids to make the experience more beneficial.

 If you’re in this boat, just know that our community supports you, and we’ve got the best educational apps for kids to help you eat out in frickin’ peace. 

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What Are the Benefits of Educational Apps for Students and Little Ones?

Let’s put away the anti-screen time, fire, and brimstone mindset for a moment and consider the idea that there could be benefits to letting our little ones explore some of the more reputable educational apps for kids.

After all, you’re bound to have an experience at some point that would be much improved by letting your kid play on a device for a few minutes.

We might as well find the silver lining in the situation, right?

If you’ve ever wondered (and secretly hoped) if there are advantages to screen time, then the expert researchers at Florida International University are here to help! 

They conducted several in-depth studies that show there are benefits to using educational apps for kids.

First and foremost, various educational apps for students are a helpful way to expand and increase math skills in children. Closely behind the math learning opportunities, researchers showed apps to be beneficial in teaching early language and literacy. 

This includes various skills, such as:

  • Letter Recognition
  • Vocabulary
  • Letter Writing
  • Phonological Awareness

During the studies, researchers also found that touchscreen educational apps for kids could improve executive functions and scientific knowledge.

It is worth noting, though, that experts believe the most beneficial way for kids to use educational apps is with their parents, especially at a young age. You should also avoid allowing your child to overuse their devices.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much?

Whether your kiddos are watching educational shows for toddlers or playing on an educational app, there is such a thing as too much.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology (AAOCAP) issued these guidelines:

  • Before 18 months of age, screen time should only be given for video chatting with adults, i.e., a parent who’s out of town or a long-distance family member.
  • Between 18 and 24-months, children should be given limited amounts of screen time alongside a parent or caregiver.
  • For kids between 2 and 5-years old, you should limit screen time to approximately 1-hour per weekday and 3-hours on weekend days.
  • If your child is 6 or older, the AAOCAP has not issued any specific guidelines. They have, however, encouraged parents to encourage healthy tv and device habits and to limit the activities children do that involve screens.
Little boy watches screen under cover header

Tips for Good Screen Time Habits

While the amount of screen time a child does or does not get is important, it’s also crucial to figure out the best ways to let your kids utilize devices and educational apps for kids.

If you’re trying to set up rules for screen time, consider these suggestions:  

  • No phones or devices during family meals, outings, or events.
  • Put parental controls in place.
  • Try to avoid using your screen time as a babysitter or pacifier (no matter how bad your case of mom overwhelm seems to be.)
  • No screen time 30 – 60-minutes before bed.
  • Use screen time as a part of your reward system for completing chores for kids.
  • Educate yourself on any tv shows, games, or apps your child wants to use.

The Top 10 Worst Apps for Kids

Before we dive into the best educational apps for students and little ones, it’s essential to figure out which ones you should avoid.

As more content and apps become available, it’s not easy to know what your kid might look at or use. 

Just the other day, for example, I thought my oldest was watching a normal kid’s video on YouTube. It ended up being tips on how to get a boyfriend…ugh!

If you’re hearing or seeing things about apps you’re not sure about, be sure to research them and check this list. These 10 apps are among the most dangerous apps for kids:

While some of the apps mentioned above aren’t necessarily inappropriate (like Instagram or TikTok), safety is a significant concern.

You never know who your child could be talking to on one of these apps or what they could be looking at an impressionable age.

Are Any Good Educational Apps for Kids Free?

Quality doesn’t always have to mean costly! 

While many great educational apps for students and kids can be pricey, there are plenty of educational apps for kids that are free.

Depending on what subject matter you’re looking for, these might appeal to you and your children:

  • Kodable: An iOS educational app for kids that focuses on coding education for children over 4 years old.
  • Pili Pop: Available on iOS and Android, this free educational app for kids will help little one’s ages 4 -10 learn French and Spanish.
  • Chicken Coop Fraction Games: A math game on iOS and Android that focuses on teaching kids between the ages of  3 and 5  mathematics.
  • Math Evolve: A fun math game that helps kids between 6 and 10 work on various math skills, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
  • Phonics Ninja: This Apple app helps children improve their reading and phonics skills for free. 
  • Super Spelling Free: Does your preschooler need help with recognizing letters and learning to spell words? If so, this free app on iOS and Apple is the ideal option. 
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Breaking it Down By Age: Which Apps Should Your Kids Be Using?

Whether you’re looking for educational apps for kids for free or you’re willing to pay, there are plenty of great options available for each age group.

Our team worked together to create a list of our personal favorites. Here is a versatile collection of educational apps for students and other little ones depending on their age.

Are There Any Good Apps for Babies?

While many researchers don’t believe in offering screen times to any babies under 2, some parents might still be wondering whether there are beneficial options for tiny tots who are interested in their parents’ phones.

If you’re looking to introduce your little one to a phone app, one of these options might be a good place to start:

1. iBabyPhone

Available for the low price of $1.99 on iTunes, iBabyPhone is for babies who are curious about our devices.

This app allows you to safely hand your phone over to babies as young as 6 months and let them pretend to make calls, press buttons, and look at things.

It also comes with various learning opportunities to teach them about animals, colors, shapes, and more.

2. Baby Rattle

Once my daughter became about six months old, I could already see that element of interest in her eyes when she’d look at my phone.

Baby Rattle is for situations like this!

For $1.99 on iTunes, this app gives your baby something to look at on your phone without being overwhelming. It introduces four different “rattle screens” that are soothing and eye-catching to babies of all ages.

3. Baby Piano

Is your little one interested in music? If so, they’re sure to love the different music and sounds that come with Baby Piano!

Versions of this app are available for both iOS and Windows and come in either a free “lite” version or a paid “full” version. 

Best Educational Apps for 3-Year-Olds and Preschoolers

When you’re looking for the best educational apps for preschoolers and other toddler-aged kids, the number of different options can seem overwhelming.

Whether you want them to brush up on their math skills or learn about the alphabet, these educational apps for 3-year olds and up are some of the most recommended:

1. PBS Kids Games

When you’re searching for the best educational apps for 3-year-olds and beyond, why not choose one that utilizes all of your child’s favorite PBS characters, such as Arthur, Dinosaur Train, or Super Why!

That’s where the PBS Kids Games app comes in!

This free app is available on all devices, including Kindle Fire. It incorporates characters from tons of popular shows into various learning games to help improve your child’s skills in math, reading, and more.

While most reviews are positive, one parent did say that some younger children might need a lot of help working the games at first.

2. LeapFrog Academy Learning

When you’re looking for activities for toddlers at home, busting out any and all of your LeapFrog toys is always a great way to encourage fun and learning. 

So it should come as no surprise that this educational powerhouse has also come out with an educational app for kids, called LeapFrog Academy Learning, which is full of versatile learning opportunities.

Available on most devices, this app comes with a free one-month trial. Once that offer ends, there are a few different subscription options, starting with a $7.99/per month price.

Most parents were impressed with the wide selection of topics and activities on this app, but some mentioned it was more expensive than they think it should be. Others did reference occasional problems with loading. 

3. DuoLingo ABC – Learn to Read

DuoLingo is famous for its language learning applications. 

That’s not the only service they offer, though! They’ve also created one of the best educational apps for preschoolers who want to learn how to read called DuoLingo ABC – Learn to Read.

What’s even better, however, is that this 5-star rated app is readily available on most devices,  and it is FREE! 

Educational Shows for kids
Screen time doesn’t have to be all bad. Kids can learn from educational shows and have fun at the same time!

Best Educational Apps for Kindergarten and Elementary Schoolers

As kids begin their learning experience, it’s crucial to find educational apps for students that meet their growing skills and needs, like these:

1. Homer Learn and Grow

Whether you need educational apps for kindergarten students who are just starting their reading journey or you’re looking for more advanced early-reading options, Homer Learn and Grow is one of the leading phonics-based education apps available for young learners. 

Available for iOS devices, this a free app that comes with different in-purchase options. It has more than 17,000 reviews on iTunes and an impressive 4.4-star rating. 

The one downfall I noticed is that some parents complained the cancellation process can be tricky.

2. ABC Mouse

In our house, ABC Mouse is a favorite! This top-rated app appeals to kids of all different ages and offers beneficial learning opportunities in various subjects. The most popular ones are math, science, reading, and art.

This app is available on all devices, which makes it a great option for any family. 

So, what’s the bad part of this app? It’s definitely not the cheapest option. There are different payment plans starting at $12.99 a month.

3. Prodigy

With over 40,000 reviews and nearly a 5-star rating, Prodigy is an iOS and Windows app that is a popular choice for any family searching for the best math educational apps for kids.

One of the things parents and kids alike love about this app is the fact that not only does it offer ample learning opportunities, but it’s also tons of fun!

Best Educational Apps for Pre-Teens

Once our kids hit their pre-teen years, it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ll be relatively skilled in the device department.

That doesn’t mean we should stop trying to find educational apps for students that will continue to benefit their development, though. So if you’re looking for good options, try these:

1. iNaturalist

A close friend of mine works for our local parks department and told me that iNaturalist has become one of the most popular science and nature apps among the pre-teens that they work with.

If your son or daughter is interested in learning more about the world around them, this app might be a good option. It’s a free app that’s available on most devices. 

2. Box Island

Has your child taken an interest in coding? If so, it’s time to get them on the award-winning iOS app, Box Island!

Utilizing beautiful graphics and challenging puzzles, this educational app for kids will teach them all of the coding basics they need to get started. 

Plus, it’s a free app, although it does allow in-app purchases.

One reviewer did note that it’s not always easy to access the in-app purchases if you’re looking to use them (this might also be a benefit since kids can’t easily make purchases).

3. Marble Math

If you’re looking for a math app to help your student expand their skills, Marble Math might be an ideal option. Available for both iOS and Windows, this top-rated puzzle app is only $3.99. 

Additionally, it’s a reliable choice for most pre-teens because it lets you pick your skill level and difficulty based on your unique wants and needs. 

educational shows for families
If you’re worried about screen time keeping your family from doing things together, why not tune into an app or show you all enjoy?

Let’s Take the Screen Time Judgment Down a Notch

So, as you can see, the possibility for beneficial screen time does exist.

If you want to start exposing your little ones to various apps, there are plenty of educational apps for students and kids that will actually help increase their skill level.

Just remember to monitor their activity and help them choose the best options for their age and grade level. 

And to the naysayers that try to give you a hard time about your so-called “electronic babysitter,” I offer you these three simple words: just do you.

Don’t worry about someone else’s opinion of your parenting techniques. Just do your best to make the choices that work for your family, and you’ll be on the right track.

Have you used any of the valuable educational apps for kids listed in this article? What did you think?

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