As all parents know, preschoolers are more excited about incorporating some “big kid” habits into their lives than they are about others. Specifically, a lot of resistance tends to happen in the realms of routine and hygiene. If you haven’t experienced whining, tears, or an all-out meltdown associated with bathtime, teeth brushing, or bedtime, for instance, you might want to double-check that your preschooler isn’t actually a robot!
All kidding aside, helping youngsters develop helpful and healthy habits can often seem like an uphill battle for parents. But before you throw in the towel and decide that hair brushing just isn’t worth the shrill protests that accompany it, For Dummies® suggests that you try one more strategy: letting your child play games on your iPad. Yes, you read that right!
“Believe it or not, there are numerous iPad apps that are designed to help kids build important routines into their daily lives,” says Jinny Gudmundsen, author of iPad Apps For Kids For Dummies® . “It’s a win-win situation: Your preschooler has tons of fun playing with Mom’s or Dad’s iPad, and you get more pint-sized buy-in when it comes to important daily habits.”
Gudmundsen, who is the respected USA TODAY Kid-Tech columnist, has made it her mission to provide a reliable iPad resource for parents. She has personally taken a multitude of kid-friendly apps on a test run, and in iPad Apps For Kids For Dummies® she breaks them all down. Whether you’re searching for apps that will appeal to a dinosaur lover, have strong girl role models, or will keep the whole family entertained on the road, you’ll find them all—and more—in this volume.
“Especially if your child is preschool aged, it may not have occurred to you to put your expensive iPad in little hands,” Gudmundsen acknowledges. “But the truth is, as long as you can provide a little supervision, there are plenty of inexpensive iPad apps that youngsters will find entertaining and educational, and that will make your job as a parent a little bit easier.”
Here, Gudmundsen shares four apps that will help your preschooler learn about and build routines.
Bo’s Bedtime Story
In this wonderful app, Bo is a little giraffe that needs help going to bed. Through ten different scenes, kids learn Bo’s bedtime routine and, in the process, practice early learning skills like sorting, color recognition, matching, counting, listening, and fine motor control. Over the course of the game, players help Bo sort and put away his toys, place his dirty clothes in the hamper and his boots on the shelf, take a bath, brush his teeth, and get into bed. These tasks are often infused with charming whimsy that preschoolers love. For instance, when it’s time for bed they can catch letters falling off the ceiling so that Bo can read a bedtime story, and count kisses so he can fall asleep.
“Bo is adorable and makes a good role model for how to follow a bedtime routine,” Gudmundsen comments. “I especially like that this app looks for little ways to reinforce learning, including identifying Bo’s body parts as kids wipe off the water droplets following his bath. If your preschooler falls in love with Bo and wants to start copying his routines, be aware that Bo also stars in another app about dinnertime routines called Bo’s Dinnertime, which is equally fun, endearing, and educational.”
The Going to Bed Book
In an engaging storyline, kids meet ten animals that live together on a boat. They are just starting to get ready for bed, beginning with taking a bath—all together in the tub. Kids help them by turning on the water and popping bubbles that appear. Next, the animals need to hang up their towels, but when your toddler tries to help, he (hilariously!) hangs up the elephant and the lion too. The routine continues with putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, exercising, heading off to bed, and then turning out the lights.
“Your child can make something silly happen during each of these steps, including turning on the hot water to steam up the screen during tooth brushing (so you have to wipe it off) and pulling down a cord to turn off the light, only to discover that the pig is dangling from the cord,” describes Gudmundsen. “And don’t miss filling the night sky with stars on the last page—just tap the dark-blue sky. You can choose to read this story yourself or listen to the droll narrator, accompanied by gentle piano music. This app is a relaxing, humorous read for the end of the day.”
Dr. Panda’s Hospital—Doctor Game for Kids
If your child likes to “doctor” stuffed animals, dolls, and—of course—you, then this is a cute app to download. It’s also helpful to play before your child’s next doctor’s appointment. Kids join Dr. Panda in his hospital and are tasked with healing eight adorable but sick animals that need treatment for stomachaches, eye and ear infections, broken bones, problems in the mouth, and bumps on the skin. From within the hospital waiting room, players select an animal to help. The scene then changes to a hospital bed where the patient awaits. Kids can make the animal’s bed linens look like a red roadster, a princess bed, or a bed of daisies, and “treatments” involve interactive games, such as putting drops in a bear’s eyes until they turn from red to white.
“What’s fun about this game is that the ailments of the animals vary,” Gudmundsen explains. “The first time you see the monkey, he might have broken ribs; but the next time he visits you, he’s got chicken pox. Kids get to perform some realistic actions, such as pumping up the blood pressure sleeve or delivering a shot (and putting on a Band-Aid, of course!). Some minigames aren’t realistic, though, and are just for fun. Because this app puts kids in control, it might help them become more comfortable with what happens when they go to the doctor’s office themselves.”
Teaching preschoolers about hygiene isn’t always easy, but it is a must. If you’re encountering resistance from your child, this app can help. Kids start by deciding whether they want to play with a boy or girl Pepi, both of whom are adorable. Then, with their chosen Pepi, they’ll explore four different hygiene tasks: brushing teeth, going to the toilet, taking a bath, and washing clothes. At each location, kids play by handing Pepi items or helping her do things like brushing her teeth, which involves rubbing the toothbrush back and forth until Pepi’s teeth shine. There are lots of helpful “spin-off” hygiene tasks, too; for example, while at the sink helping Pepi brush her teeth, you can also help her wash her hands, comb her flyaway hair, and cut her nails using nail scissors.
“On the surface, these tasks may sound rather boring, but because Pepi is so expressive and responds to the player’s every action, the game is actually very engaging,” Gudmundsen shares. “For instance, she wrinkles her nose when you spray air freshener and contorts her face when trying to go potty. Pepi is both silly and serious, and always polite and appreciative. Her routines might not completely mesh with what you’re teaching your child, but that’s okay because the point of the app is to show your kids that other children also have routines. Best of all, you may find that your child wants to clean up and copy Pepi.”
“Don’t be surprised if some of these apps become favorite activities in your house,” Gudmundsen concludes. “Your preschooler will be having so much fun interacting with his new iPad ‘friends’ that he won’t even notice how much he is learning about big kid routines!”
Jinny Gudmundsen is the author of iPad Apps For Kids For Dummies®. She is the Kid-Tech columnist for USA TODAY and the Gannett newspaper chain. An authority on technology for kids, she also works for Common Sense Media, the nation’s leading nonprofit source of reviews on children’s media, and is the editor of ComputingWithKids.com.