In a perfect world, preschoolers would get less Paw Patrol and more Pythagoras in their daily screen-time diet. But judging by the fact that the United States ranks 35 out of 64 on standardized test math scores (eat it, Lithuania) that’s not the case. Concerned parents have good reason to start boosting their preschooler’s math skills as early as possible. Good news: math apps can help preschoolers get excited about math and learn basic skills. Because unlike workbooks or parental lectures, educational math apps can get a kid’s attention, and keep it.
The kid’s media experts at Common Sense Media know that math apps are a great tool in any parent’s arsenal, though they note that trusting someone’s review in the app store might not ensure your kid’s screen time is actually educational, or free. They vet thousands of math apps (and generally educational apps) for 12 different criteria, from learning methodology to how likely your kid is to accidentally make in-app purchases. These are the best math apps for toddlers and preschoolers that pass their smell test and will get your kid learning all those skills you forgot the second you were handed a high school diploma.
Monsters are already teaching your toddler everything from how to enjoy cookies to how to share. Why stop there? The Endless Numbers app uses animated ugly dolls to introduce math concepts like counting, sequences, and basic arithmetic in fun ways. Because the only thing more fun than riding a Ferris wheel is counting all the cars on one … right?
Quick Math Jr.
From the makers of Shiny Kids comes an educational app that tailors itself to your mathlete’s aptitude. It handles all of the requisite addition, subtraction, and monster counting — but it also includes handwriting recognition. So beyond math skills like counting fingers and toes, kids will practice writing numbers.
Drive About: Number Neighborhood
You may find yourself driving around aimlessly in the real world (Waze, you’re the worst), but at least you can point your kid in the right direction on their iPad. Preschoolers can cruise to 9 familiar destinations (playground, marina, cake shop) while learning basic math skills and fine motor skills along the way through verbal instruction. (Perfect for toddlers who can’t read yet.) Because unlike stop and go traffic, math makes sense.
Kahn Academy Kids
Kahn Academy was developed by education experts at Stanford, and its programs for kids ages 2-7 follow the Head Start early learning outcomes framework and common core standards. It creates a customized, intuitive curriculum for each user, so kids can learn at their own pace. It’s not only free to download but contains no ads or in-app purchases, so you won’t find surprise charges made by curious fingers.
Moose Math by Duck Duck Moose
From the studio that brought you the finest games about farm animals and construction equipment comes the best math app for teaching kids skills that they can actually use in preschool and beyond (assuming they don’t become a farmer or a truck driver). Moose Math contains 5 games that teach geometry, sorting, counting by multiples, and more. It also lets parents view a progress report, so you can see just what the hell you’re paying this moose for.
Bugs and Numbers
Kids love bugs. They may be a little less psyched about math. But when you have a parade of realistic-looking creepy crawlies showing them how to tell time, divide numbers into fractions, and use money (worker bee’s gotta eat!) they might actually want to participate. For parents, it will just remind you that bed bugs are probably hiding in your hotel room.
Splash math develops a curriculum that adjusts based on your child’s needs and sends you weekly progress reports via email. Their kindergarten curriculum includes identifying, counting and comparing numbers up to 10, addition and subtraction, and basic geometry.
It’s the Grand Theft Auto of math apps — without the dead bodies, drugs, swearing, weapons, or prostitutes. What it does share is a “sandbox” mode, where your kid can play freely play with furry squiggles called “Nooms” that represent different numerals.