Let’s face it, when we think about supporting the healthy development of our youngest learners, leveraging technology––and, specifically, mobile apps––may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and teachers are looking for technology solutions to help maintain connections and encourage learning when being at school may not be possible.
Enter Grail Family Services and MathTalk, two grantee partners of the Foundation’s Education program that are developing mobile apps that support families in fostering offline play and learning opportunities for their children. These apps are not designed to keep kids absorbed in screens. On the contrary, they use technology as a springboard for real-world learning.
The Building Blocks of Parenting™ (BBP) app, developed by Grail Family Services, provides families with access to a variety of resources, including the latest research on child development, and a supportive network to connect with other parents. The BBP app also features a checklist of research-based child developmental milestones, and notifications about community resources, learning activities, and more. The BBP app is free and available in English and Spanish on both iOS and Android platforms.
The Measure! Everything! app, developed by MathTalk, is designed to bring math learning opportunities into every child’s world, regardless of where they may live, to help them discover that math is everywhere around them. The app, which will launch in September, uses Augmented Reality experiences by bringing 3D animals and objects to life in the child’s home, backyard, school, or community––getting kids “up, about, and out” to discover and explore measurement-related concepts all around them. The app also includes talk prompts to facilitate meaningful math conversations between young children and their caregivers, and helps support caregivers who may feel anxious about math with tips to help their children see the world through a “math lens.”
In a time when we’ve all become more dependent on technological solutions for connecting to one another and to our communities, tools like BBP and Measure! Everything! are examples of apps intentionally designed to leverage technology to lift up the strengths of parents as the first and most important teachers. When they are designed intentionally and with user input, opportunities delivered through screens can be the launch pad for families to engage in playful and enriching learning experiences together.
The Building Blocks of Parenting™ (BBP) app
The Measure! Everything! app