Finding the Right Tech

From parenting to kid’s education, the web offers a plethora of amazing tools

By Jaclyn Brandt

Parenting Technology
With the constant expansion and evolution of technology. it can be a challenge to sort through the many options and know whom to trust in the cyber world. Parents and children seeking information and educational tools may have a hard time navigating the infinite resources out there. Fortunately, we have some favorites and hope you’ll check these out.
Khan Academy
A website focused on tutoring your child, KhanAcademy is a free resource that will set up a personalized dashboard for each student that “identifies strengths and learning gaps while suggesting skills to practice.” Khan Academy is meant to complement what your child is learning in school, and as an added bonus, your child will earn tech rewards, like badges and new avatars.

Keep track of your child’s progress with email updates, so you can see what they are learning and where they might be struggling. You can also add practice skills to their dashboard, if you’d like them to study in a certain area. Khan Academy is a not-for-profit, which keeps the service free for everyone.
If you are looking for a website to entertain your toddlers and young children, while also helping them learn, is for ages 2-7 and is a curriculum that’s fun and educational. Like Khan Academy, ABCMouse offers lessons to help your child expand their knowledge.“Our three-year-olds love the variety of games and don’t realize they’re learning!” said Tommy Collins, father of 3-year-old twins. ABCMouse is for children younger than Khan Academy recommends, and unlike Khan Academy, ABCMouse is not free. Check the website for rates.

Starfall is another learning tool for kids, and can be used as a website or an app. Starfall is another not-for-profit, and their main goal is to teach children to read. In 2009, Starfall also expanded their offerings, with the Starfall Kindergarten English Language Arts Curriculum and in 2013, the Starfall Pre-K Curriculum.

Starfall can be used as a free service or you can purchase a membership ($35 a year) that “unlocks” additional content.

YouTube Kids
YouTube Kids launched in February 2015, and according to YouTube, it is “the first Google product built from the ground up with little ones in mind.” The app makes it safer and easier for children to find videos on topics they want to explore.

The app features large and colorful icons as well as a voice search, for those children too young to spell. Your child can browse content, just like YouTube, but the content is limited to that appropriate for children.

“YouTube Kids filters out all questionable content and makes it completely kid-friendly!” said Caroline Goddard, a mom of two toddlers who is also expecting her third child.

Lucie’s List
Lucie’s List calls themselves “a survival guide for new moms.” The website features a registry and offers advice for both pregnant women and those with brand new babies. They offer advice on categories like: postpartum, infants, twins, and toddlers. They also feature a registry and gear guide to help you with everything you will need before the baby arrives.

“I’m a brand new mom and love Lucie’s List,” said Melissa Mandato. “It is good during pregnancy and after you have a baby for tips and advice.”

The site also offers seasonal tips — for instance, their “summer stuff” includes tips on swim diapers, sunscreen, and bug spray.

Wonder Weeks
Wonder Weeks is available exclusively as an app, and is based on the book of the same name.

“Wonder Weeks app…talks about developmental ‘leaps’ your child experiences and when,” said Sarah Blessinger, mom to a one-year-old. “[It] also offers suggestions on how to help them through the leaps and what to expect.”

iMOM offers three things: ideas to help you raise your family, insight when you have parenting questions, and inspiration to help you accomplish your goals. With the goal of “helping you grow as a mom,” the website offers tips on parenting, marriage, family fun, and mom life.

Their blog may be the most useful part of the site, and varies widely in content. Recent posts include: “Mother Daughter Bucket List,” “How to Care for Fatherless Children on Father’s Day,” “15 Reasons My Marriage Has Lasted 15 Years,” and “5 Summer Activities Under $10.” They also offer suggestions on movies and books that are suitable for different ages.

While it may not offer the most scientifically-based answers, many parents use good ol’ Facebook to ask fellow parents for advice. Parents ask for advice both on their own profile pages, and also in Facebook groups. There is a Facebook group for pretty much everything — for new moms, step parents, and location-based groups. In Bend alone, there are numerous groups, including Bend Moms Unite and Moms in Bend.

“I’m a member in a couple ‘mom groups’ on Facebook,” said Jacqueline Beaumont, mom of a toddler. “They’re good for things like, ‘how do I get nail polish out of the carpet?’ And ‘has anyone here dealt with cradle cap?’ But for the bigger stuff like, ‘what is this suspicious looking rash?’ I seek people more knowledgable than perhaps the random mom on her computer.”

The downside of asking the Facebook population for advice, according to Alyssa Brown, mom of one, is that “every other parent is wrong.” It comes back to taking what people say and using your own judgment as to what will work best for your child.

There are thousands and thousands of parenting resources out there – the trick is to figure out which ones are right for you and your child. Most parents use some sort of resource, but using your own judgment is important to figuring out what suits your family best.

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