The MySchoolWorx Community Blog

Parents: What’s the best “educational” tablet for your child?

We get asked this question a lot and truth is, it can be like asking someone what kind of coffee is best: There are so many really good choices, it comes down to personal preference or taste. In this case, the age of your child, their unique needs/what you want them to get out of it, and your budget are all important factors, but at the end of the day, the “right” tablet for your child can be a very personal choice.

Tablets by Operating SystemTablets exploded on the K-12 education scene about 4 years ago, quickly becoming an educational staple in the classroom.  Classroom use may depend on the individual school’s situation: Some schools are working hard to issue tablets 1:1, others have adopted BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies. As teachers continue to explore and create new ways to use these devices in meaningful ways, it’s only natural that parents are considering purchasing them for their kids as more than “toys” or mere entertainment. Tablets are great in the classroom, but also as at-home tools for augmenting or boosting a child’s educational experience after school. The right Apps and usage can benefit kids of all ages.

A study performed by Apple indicated nearly half of first time mobile tech users haven’t even entered kindergarten yet. While we tend to think of tablets benefiting older kids, growing evidence supports positive outcomes with younger children exposed to tablets for learning. A recent study of children using tablets conducted by the Joan Canz Cooney Center, revealed 5 year olds using them had a 27 percent increase in vocabulary and 3 year olds a 17% increase in language skills.

Apple’s iPad started the tablet craze in 2010, and quickly captured a command of the education market. Since then, many other high-quality and more affordable tablets  in Android and other operating systems have launched into the marketplace.  While it estimated that American students currently use 4.5 million iPads for schoolwork, tablet web site tablets2cases.com projects that by 2016, the market will be dominated by 3 major operating systems: Apple’s iOs at 46%, Android at 37.3% and Windows growing to nearly 12% of the market.

Parents have a lot to consider when looking at tablets for educational purposes today. Operating system preference and budget are big factors, however if you plan on your child getting the most out of a tablet (using it for more than just “googling” or online research), you’ll also want to consider the number of educational Apps that are available for a particular device. Apps are typically unique to a particular operating system and in early childhood tablets, brand-specific. Apple’s iOS system is currently the leader in available education apps with over 75,000 education Apps now in their App store. Android apps, largely available on Google Play, work on a wide variety of different brands and have swiftly grown in number.  For Amazon devotee’s, Kindle also has a growing Education App store, complete with user ratings.  Some great education apps have been built for the entire Android market both for consumers and educators.

Speed, memory, battery life and screen display are other key factors in selection. Screen sizes fluctuate to suit portability: Some tablets have 7 inch screens, some 10 (or beyond) and others in between. Smaller hands (think pre-K through 2nd grade) may find the smaller tablets easier to handle. Manufacturers continue to push the technology envelope to pack more into these portable devices, so changes in features will only continue to grow.  A visit to a retail store with your child where they can handle different devices and try them out will be worthwhile even if you decide to purchase online. Then make a list of the features most important to you, so you can weigh pros and cons.

We’ve listed some links below to assist in your search if you are among the many parents looking for the right fit for a BYOD or at-home tablet for grade school and middle school age children, or beginner tablets for their youngest at home.

Parents with kids using tablets, what’s your experience? What’s your preference and why? Do you have a link to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.  

Grade School through Teens:

http://www.k-12techdecisions.com/article/tablets_made_specifically_for_k_12

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/09/15/tech-now-tablets-kids-teens-ipad-kindle-fire-leapad/2806055/

For Younger Children:

http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow/story/305700/the-top-tablets-for-your-kids

http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/test-centre/tablets/3378548/9-best-tablets-for-children/

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2014/01/today-s-kid-tablets-have-grown-up/index.htm

http://mashable.com/2012/11/30/the-best-tablets-for-kids/