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Parents, do your homework when it comes to e-learning programmes

Giving your child(ren) free rein when it comes to an app store can be dangerous - especially because you don't know what content they'll be exposed to. Similarly, giving your child the same freedom to choose content on educational e-learning programmes is a big no-no, because it's like taking them to their favourite takeaway and expecting them to select a salad.
Photo by Julia M Cameron from
Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

With public and independent schools either closed already or closing recurrently throughout August, many parents will turn to digital learning support programmes to keep their children's brains not only entertained, but also stimulated.

There are so many options available for children of all ages - from apps that reinforce basic literacy and numeracy, platforms that offer past papers and worksheets, or programmes offering AI-based learning - that it’s difficult for parents to choose which option is best. After all, the trick to getting buy-in from children is going to be finding the sweet spot between fun and stimulating activities while avoiding them feeling like learning is a drag.

Before signing up to the first platform you find when you google e-learning, parents should assess various platforms available with these points in mind:

  1. Parent resources: Can you track your child’s progress and development through the various levels of content? Being able to do so introduces an element of accountability to your children, but it also helps parents identify any difficulties that children may be having, so that they can line up reinforcement work.

  2. AI-based technology: One of the key advantages of online learning is that it is possible for artificial learning within a programme to identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and for it to adapt the content and questions it serves to each child, with their particular needs in mind. This is a far more challenging and educative approach than solutions that offer the same worksheets for each child in a specific grade or age group, without regard for their talents, knowledge, or learning abilities.

  3. Weigh up price and value for money: Remember that all-important online adage: “If it’s free, you (or your child) are the product” when looking into free apps and websites. While it’s tempting to think that everything online is free, the best solutions achieve that status because time and money have gone into creating a responsive product that achieves meaningful and measurable results – something that few free apps and programmes can honestly claim. Look for clear payment terms and conditions, with the best solutions offering a free trial period before you commit to a debit order. Sibling or referral programme discounts are also always a bonus!

  4. More than just maths: Does the programme you’re considering only focus on one subject, or does it introduce complementary skills and subjects? For example, future world of work skills like coding are connected to studying mathematics, as are life skills like budgeting, saving and investing. Choosing a programme that offers a holistic approach to learning, enhancing life skills while boosting subject skills, is a great way to get more bang for your buck.

  5. Educational games and competitions: All work and no play makes for a sad learner – so look for programmes that offer an element of fun or gamification to encourage engagement and repeat visits. Just like grownups keep on returning to the stores that offer the most rewards, children keep on going back to environments where they feel like they’re getting a reward for performing well – even if that reward isn’t financial.

At a time when many parents are trying to balance working from home while supervising children who are schooling at home too, the best online learning programmes are those that keep kids engaged, track their progress, teach additional skills, and produce regular insights about progress made.

Invest time in finding the right programme for your child(ren), ensuring that you get the best possible return on that investment: a rekindled passion for learning, with the improved results that are sure to inspire.

About Philip von Ziegler

Philip von Ziegler is the Country Manager at Smartick. Smartick is an adaptive AI-based remote learning programme for children aged 4 - 14 years that can immensely improve a child's cognitive abilities with just 15-minute a day sessions.
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