My 3-year-old doesn't have her own own tablet, but mine might as well have her name on it. Several years ago, I bought a tablet to do work on the train, but since my daughter, Peyton, developed motor skills, it's hers. I was a little concerned with the amount of screen time she has, since I caught her staring blank-eyed at Youtube Kids videos, until I noticed her typing gibberish into the Notes app. She was glued to it, and when I saw that she loved Autocorrect, and how her jumbles of letters turned into real words, it gave me the idea that the tablet might actually be a good learning tool.
Another mom told me about the HOMER Reading app she used for her toddler, so I downloaded it to give Peyton more experience combining letters into words. It's a proven learn-to-read program that has been shown to increase early reading scores by 74%. But it also motivates kids to want to learn, which can be challenging when there's so much other fun stimuli on any device. It's designed for kids 2-8 years old, using lessons and games to either get a head-start on reading or work on specific reading challenges.
After we input her age, we got to choose the topics she was interested in. She automatically picked everything with cute animals, which included Pets, Friendship, and Fairytales, but I was surprised with how she also chose Trains, Robots, and How Things Work.
The app starts by assessing her current reading level. I thought for a that moment she recognized the letters in her name, but she was tricking me. The brief test would be great for other parents to determine what their kids are struggling with, but I wasn't too worried about Peyton because she's still got another year in preschool.
Once we signed up, we met Millie the Monkey, who guides Peyton through the different programs. The graphics are so cute! When you identify letters vs. shapes and numbers, the letters hang from balloons or spaceships. Everything's brightly colored and it reminded me of the PBS Kids programming she watches, so I think that's why Peyton was so engaged so fast. There's a cast of animal characters that all have different names, and I think she likes that it feels like an interactive TV show. When she makes a mistake in a lesson, there's a gentle nudge to try again, so I'm glad it is motivating her to continue making mistakes, which are part of the learning journey.
Pro-tip for parents: the soundtrack is calming, and not annoying, like tons of other kids' shows and games. And it's so gratifying when you notice signs that your child is actually learning to read. Peyton pointed at a big letter "A" on a highway billboard the other day and said "A!" and I was honestly just as excited as when she said her first word. The cost is $7.99 a month, much more affordable than the plastic princess crown I picked up for her in the drug store last time she had a temper tantrum. If you're concerned about limiting your child's screen time, try HOMER, so you know they're getting high quality educational content and activities that are creative, useful, and tailored to what they like. I recommend downloading the HOMER app early, so your child can start learning the fundamentals of reading before they head to Kindergarten and then grow into a confident reader.
UPDATE: The Homer team is offering a special Limited Time Offer to our readers! Follow this link and get a 30 day free trial!