Children's Development

An App a Day Keeps the Grades Up: 24 Challenging and Fun Educational Apps for Kids

It’s amazing how quickly kids catch on to the ways our phones, tablets, and other electronics work. They swipe, press, and type with ease and their learning curves seem to be growing shorter! And they’re not just playing Snake, either.

While physical toys will always hold a place of importance at home and in school, virtual toys—aka apps—are on the rise.

Tons of apps out there that offer more than just a moment of entertainment. Enter: educational apps for kids. They’re here to stay, and they’ve been proven to help with things like reading.

It can be overwhelming to navigate app stores to find the right ones for your child, so we’ve taken a look at some of the best apps in several educational categories. Read on for some apps that will help your child grow in knowledge—from math essentials to music!

Things to Look for in an Educational App

There are three main qualities examine in an educational app: age-appropriateness, cost, and safety. Pay attention to these, and you’ll be ahead of the (virtual) game!

Age Appropriate Educational Apps

The term “age-appropriate” can seem vague, but there are two main concerns: first, the app content should be challenging enough for your child, but not so challenging they get overly frustrated. Frequently, you can guide a child through difficult portions of an educational app, but if they’re constantly running to you, they’ll lose out on some learning growth and autonomy.

Low Cost

It’s tough enough to shell out $10 for a virtual game (although many of us parents do)—but occasionally, it’s worth the extra cost. What’s not OK? Apps that claim to be “free” but are basically only usable if you buy upgrades in-app. Amazon was recently penalized for charging parents for app purchases made by children, and Google and Apple have both dealt with this problem in the past. If you go on Amazon’s app store now, you’ll notice several apps sporting an “Actually Free” banner, and Google apps recently designed an app program for families with approved kid-safe apps. Apple set up their Kids app store in 2013.

If your child is old enough to download apps himself cut back on unwanted upgrades and increase safety by using these kid-safe app platforms.

Time Limits

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids in the US spend an average of almost seven and a half hours with screens every day. The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends a maximum of two hours of daily screen time for 3-18-year-olds. (Sorry 2-year-olds, you’ll have to wait until you’re three for any screen time at all!)

Too much screen time has been linked to problems with sleep, ADHD, behavioral issues, and more. Remember, no matter how educational an app is, it’s still an app. Make sure you put a time limit on your child’s use and encourage them to play outside and keep building good relationships.

Best Literacy Apps

We weren’t joking when we said that educational apps were booming—even the KISS guitarist wants to create reading apps for kids. And for good reason, too. Recent studies suggest that tablets with literacy apps really do have a positive impact on a child’s ability to read, particularly in low-income or under-resourced areas. Here are a few literacy apps that your child will love:

Preschool/Kindergarten (ages 3–6)

Elementary (ages 6–11)

Best Math Apps

It’s easy to get a child engaged in a fun experiment or an entertaining book—it’s harder to get a child excited about math. Luckily, these math-based apps will do just that!

Preschool/Kindergarten (ages 3–6)

Elementary (ages 6–11)

Best Science Apps

Science is already pretty interesting. Incorporate it into an app, and you’ll find your little scientist won’t need to ask why the sky is blue. In fact, you might be asking him a few questions.

Preschool/Kindergarten (ages 3–6)

Elementary (ages 6–11)

Best Money Management Apps

Who says Money Management isn’t education? Children will likely grow up in a world without knowing what a balanced checkbook is—but they should definitely know what an APR is. Help your child learn how to responsibly manage money before they’re eligible for credit cards, and they’ll thank you many years later.

Preschool/Kindergarten (ages 3–6)

Elementary (ages 6–11)

Best Health Apps

Maximize your child’s nutrition knowledge and encourage him to get more exercise with these health and fitness-related apps.

Preschool/Kindergarten (ages 3–6)

Elementary (ages 6–11)

Best Music Education Apps

Music Education is probably one of the most underrated studies out there, and among the first classes to go when budgets get cut. It’s unfortunate, because, according to a recent study, music lessons have been proven to boost a child’s emotional and behavioral development. Your child might not be ready for musical lessons, but you can prime him to be ready with these apps.

(Psst…while you’re at it, download the Youtube Kids app for safer everyday listening!)

Preschool/Kindergarten (ages 3–6)

Elementary (ages 6–11)

There you have it—plenty of fun educational apps to keep your child learning while he taps and swipes! Looking for more great tips and tools to boost your child’s education outside the classroom? Follow ECR4Kids on Facebook and Pinterest, and swing by the ECR4Kids site to see some amazing child-safe furniture and classroom toys.


educational apps for kids