The Department for Education (DfE) is planning a pilot to make approved educational apps for young children available to disadvantaged families.
It is part of a wider push to encourage parents to kickstart their children’s early language and literacy skills at home.
The department has invited tech companies to come forward with apps that meet agreed educational criteria – including elements of play, interaction and ranging difficulty levels – for a stamp of approval. It said this will make parents able to make informed choices about the apps they choose from among the hundreds already available on the market.
In addition, it is running a pilot scheme in 12 areas under which parents will get free access to two of the apps focused on early language, literacy and communication.
Constructive screen time
The apps will be designed to help parents think about how to use screen time constructively and provide meaningful learning activities for their young children in the years before they start Reception.
The pilot areas are Middlesbrough, Oldham, Halton, Stoke-on-Trent, Sandwell, Leicester, Enfield, Tower Hamlets, Brent, Peterborough, Luton and Plymouth. They were chosen based on factors including the proportion of children achieving below the expected level of development in communication, language and literacy at age five.
A spokesperson said that hopefully the scheme could be extended to other areas.
Children and Families Minister Kemi Badenoch said: “Digital technology means there is a wealth of fun activities at parents’ fingertips, but the content of these is important too.
“That’s why we want to help parents make confident, informed choices about the resources they use, so they can help inspire a love of learning in their children.”
In July, the DfE launched a three-year behaviour change campaign called Hungry Little Minds, giving parents access to video tips, advice and suggested games to help with early learning and helping to tackle the barriers some parents face in supporting their child’s learning at home, including time, confidence and ideas of things to do.
It follows a partnership with the National Literacy Trust to bring together a coalition of businesses and organisations supporting parents to play a bigger role in their child’s early education.
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