Helping parents get their pre-school children ready for school

Bright Horizons talks about its new free iphone app for getting helping busy parents get their pre-school children ready for school.

It can be difficult to entertain pre-school kids while you’re waiting at airports or GP surgeries, but you could use the time to both entertain and educate them, thanks to a free new app put together by early years experts.

Nursery provider Bright Horizons Family Solutions says its Ready for School app is a collection of themed learning activity packs designed to develop children’s confidence and love of learning while they have fun.

The app covers everything from being ready for school lunches and lining up to ready to learn to read, to write and to do maths.

Nicola Amies, Director of Early Years at Bright Horizons, says: “There are a lot of apps on the market for children to use. Very few are for parents, giving them ideas for fun, educational activities they can do with their children.”

The idea for the app dates back around seven years ago when Bright Horizons developed a Ready for School initiative for parents to give them an understanding of the play and learning activities that form the foundation for early years learning.

“Some parents find it difficult to understand how play helps children to read and fulfill other learning tasks,” says Nicola. The initiative included games and activities like i-spy and spotting shapes in the environment. It needed to be reviewed, but reprinting it was expensive and static.

“I was playing around with my iphone and thought why not use that since many people have one,” says Nicola. Starting in November 2011 and working with a group of nurseries and parents plus IT, early years and marketing specialists as well as an innovative technology company, they created the app.

It was reviewed by Apple recently and approved last week. Activities include things you can do while you are waiting for the dentist, at the airport, on holiday or at a GP surgery. There’s i-spy for the supermarket or number skittles to build maths skills.

“It’s our gift to parents and childminders,” says Nicola. There will be regular updates and it can be adapted to special events like the Olympics. There is a feedback button so parents can suggest ideas.

Bright Horizons is also looking at developing activities for younger children and seeing if there is an interest in extending it to android rather than just iphones and ipads.

“It fits with the Government’s agenda of supporting parents to support their child’s learning as their child’s first educator,” says Nicola, “and it opens our experience and knowledge up to a wider audience than just the parents who use our nurseries.”

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