The Apple App Store and Google Play are chocked-full of educational apps for your kids, some excellent and some schlock. Separating the wheat from the chaff is no small task; thankfully Graphite (a spin-off from Common Sense Media) does an excellent job highlighting and reviewing the better ones. This list from Education Next is super-helpful too.
But in both cases, the focus is overwhelmingly on apps that teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. Maybe because that’s what schools are most focused on, or maybe those subjects present fewer design challenges for app builders.
But that leaves a gaping hole: The teaching of history, geography, science, art, and music, what you might otherwise call “content knowledge.”
This is a big problem for three reasons:
- Those subjects are important in their own right;
- They are treated as after-thoughts by most elementary schools, making them even more critical to cover in out-of-school time;
- They are essential if kids are going to actually learn how to read.
That last point is worth lingering on. As E.D. Hirsch, Jr. has argued for thirty years—and cognitive scientists have since proven in the research lab—teaching content is essential to teaching reading. While it’s important for...