When I first created the TV show Juana la Iguana with my partners Amanda Quijano and Anita Katz, I was looking for my children to have a positive role model that could speak to them in my native language, Spanish. Every day, technology is more pervasive in our lives and our kids’ lives. My belief is that we have to embrace it and that what needs to change is our perception of what education can be. That is why my partners and I have set out to bring Juana la Iguana to the digital age with our new company.
With so many applications in the App Store, it can be challenging to know what is appropriate for young children. It is important to consider what both parents and children want. Entertainment? Learning? Skill building?
Small children will engage with apps that are fun and challenging. They are the the most critical judges when it comes to games they don’t enjoy. They will leave them aside and refuse to play. So even if the parents’ goal is for kids to learn a new concept or a new skill, they should understand that it can only be done if the kid loves to play with the app.
For children five and under, there are a few things to consider…
- Find apps that instill in your child a love for learning and focuses on teaching kids how to learn rather than specific concepts.
- Make sure that the apps foster your child’s curiosity
- Look for apps that offer “real life” activities that complement what the child does digitally when he plays the app. You can challenge your child while shopping for groceries by saying: “Let’s find what fruits and vegetables are yellow” or “Let’s plant a small vegetable garden in our backyard like real farmers do.”
- Decide what skills you want the child to practice. Creativity? Music? Fine motor skills?
- Look for apps that not only teach cognitive skills but also help develop socio-emotional skills.
- Learn what your kid likes and find apps that interest her. Does she like pirates? Does he like building things?
One common concern parents have is that their child can become too attached to the device. What is important to know is that small kids learn through repetition and apps offer multiple opportunities to practice skills and learn concepts. If your child continues playing, it is indicative that he likes what he is doing. Of course, we always recommend that parents are spending time in the real-world to complement their digital activities. There is no substitute for parents’ involvement in their child’s development.
I am very happy to share with you that our new app, “Juana y sus Amigos de la Granja” (Juana and her Friends on the Farm) is now available on the App Store, free for a limited time. All of the criteria that I’ve mentioned was taken into account as we designed and developed this app in partnership with Rokk3r Labs. I hope that you will take the time to download the application and share with other parents who are looking for their kids to be exposed to the Spanish language and our magical Juana ☺.
I look forward to hearing from you and please connect with me on Twitter @AprendeConJuana.
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Cómo encontrar una buena aplicación para su hijo. ¡Juana la Iguana regresó para ayudarles!