Child- Technology, Early years Resources, Primary resources, International Teachers Magazine

Summer apps

Guiding effective holiday screen time

With the summer fast approaching, Joan Weir shares her favourite educational apps., convinced that parents and teachers should be guiding rather than forbidding screen time. 

Educational Learning Tools

The reality is that 21st century children incorporate iPads, kindles and games consoles into their everyday lives much the same as we did with hopscotch, rounders and monopoly.

As a mother and educator, I love the iPad! After a long day’s work when I find myself at home with my two energetic youngsters longing for a mere 30 minutes of silence to enjoy a quiet coffee, or better still, have an uninterrupted adult conversation, I love the iPad more than ever!

Does that make me a bad parent? Not one bit. I am an honest parent and a realistic one too. Why? Because I know that when my children are on their tablets or iPads that they are also learning, they are engaged and their minds are stimulated. One of the biggest downsides of children using iPads is the lack of parental control and the length of time that children are allowed to spend on these devices.  By exerting boundaries over screen usage and downloading fun and engaging apps to enhance learning, I promise that parent guilt will soon be detached and you too will be grateful for these remarkable gadgets – without the guilt!

Children and Technology

The majority of children today own an iPad, tablet or phone. Fact. Children of today spend less time outdoors than the generations before them. Fact. Technology is all around us today. Fact. Children are using iPads in schools because interactive technology makes learning more engaging and memorable. Fact. Studies show that educational apps can develop and improve the mathematical, vocabulary and literacy skills of children. Fact.

Here I have included a list of some favourite educational apps (tried, tested and approved by my own children) that parents can download onto their children’s iPads or tablets. Some apps will incur a cost but I do believe them to be fabulous learning tools for children that are well worth the small spend.

Parental control and access

But first, let’s begin with parental control and access. Make sure to have this activated in your settings. Furthermore, there are many apps available in the App or Play Store, each one as good as the next, which parents can download to their own phones and control the time their children spend on their devices. Our Pact being my personal favourite as this was recommended to me by another parent, and I have found it to be reliable and user friendly.

Favourite Apps

If you want your child to work on their reading and literacy skills along with improving their phonological awareness to boost spelling skills and of course progress their development of comprehension skills, then one of my favourite apps/programs is Reading Eggs. This multi-award winning platform creates a self-paced program for each individual child which provides phonics, reading and comprehension enhancement through colourful, engaging and interactive tasks. A solid favourite with my six year old daughter! Reading Eggs is paid subscription only but also offers a free trial period.


Next up, a hugely popular program loved and adored by pupils of all ages and one which we use in Brighton College, Al Ain is Busy Things. Another award-winning website, Busy Things aims to help teachers and parents connect with the digital generation by incorporating fun into high quality curriculum linked content. Differentiated by age groups, children can work within the pace that they are most comfortable with allowing them to progress to more difficult stages. This multi-purpose website also offers parents a taster of what Busy Things has to offer through a variety of enriching apps including mathematics, traditional tales, exploration and problem solving.


Kahoot is a firm favourite in my household and an enjoyable quiz for all the family. This free game-based learning platform provides entertainment for teachers, parents and children alike. With different ways to play, parents can create their own fun learning game in minutes (these are called Kahoots) or choose shared quizzes online. However, be warned, this game gets very competitive!






Joan Weir – Teaches at Brighton College, Al Ain.




Joan has also also put together a further list of educational apps suitable for different age groups in a free to download PDF.

Click on the “thumbs up”image to download!




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