Education doesn’t have to be boring. Learning can be loads of fun for kids, especially when it involves working on your speech skills with an iPad. And there are a ton of speech apps on the market now. Finding what’s right for your child is the key.
Speech apps are not designed to replace speech therapy, but Lisa Gonidakis, a speech pathologist at Akron Children’s Hospital, says they can be a great way to work on new skills at home or in the car. She uses tablet computer devices with her patients as teaching tools, reinforcements for good work and to carryover learned skills.
Here are some apps to try with your kids, per Gonidakis’ advice:
Speech with Milo apps – There are a variety of these apps, including interactive storybooks, sequencing and adjectives. There’s even Spanish language versions for verbs and prepositions.
“The animation is cute and the stories are motivating,” said Gonidakis. These are among the more affordable apps – ranging from free to $2.99.
ArtikPix – Interactive articulation flashcards provide a fun way for a child to practice their speech sounds at home. A fun perk to this app is the ability for the child to record his production and play it back, then rate it with a “yay!” or an “aw”.
Gonidakis really likes that the app saves and dates the child’s scores so parents (and therapists) can track progress over time. A free version is available for you to try out. The full version of ArtikPix costs $29.99 and includes all 21 decks with 40 cards each.
My PlayHome – This fun app is an interactive dollhouse, where nearly everything within can be manipulated. Your child can touch the screen to turn lights on and off, feed the baby, change the music CDs, throw things in the trash can, put children to bed, bounce basketballs, and much more.
“For children with a language delay, this app provides lots of opportunity to use action words, produce early phrases, and answer ‘wh’ questions,” Gonidakis said.
There’s a free “lite” version of My PlayHome, which is perfect to test and see if this app engages your child. If it does, you’ll want to explore the rest of the house for $3.99.
Super Duper apps – “Many of our therapeutic fun decks, or therapy flashcards, are now available in the App Store,” said Gonidakis. There are a number of skills available, including naming, answering “wh” questions, categorizing and following directions.
You or your child can score her response to each task and save the data to track progress over time. These apps cost $1.99 each. Super Duper apps are also available for the Android.
Conversation Builder – This is a great app for children with social-pragmatic and/or language disorders, in which a child responds to pictures and scenarios by choosing a phrase that sounds appropriate. Your child can then record his response, play it back and listen as the app responds to keep the conversation going.
Conversation Builder is a great teaching tool for using clear, appropriate language with friends. It has two versions. For $9.99, you get the standard set of conversational topics. You must then purchase additional themes from the in-app selection. These are a few dollars each and include themes such as water and school.
With the $29.99 deluxe version, you get all of the in-app themes included in your purchase, so if you are a speech language pathologist, definitely spring for the deluxe version.
While Gonidakis is an app enthusiast, she cautions parents that the iPad is just a tool in our toolbox of learning and language. It doesn’t replace speech and language therapy and won’t provide a quick fix to your child’s needs.
It’s what you do with apps that make them valuable. We encourage parents to play these apps with their children. Apps related to your child’s speech and language goals should be discussed with your child’s teacher or speech-language pathologist to ensure that settings and tasks are appropriate to address their needs.
If you’re interested in using an iPad as a speech-generating device, discuss the options with your speech pathologist so she can find an app that’s appropriate for your child’s needs and skill level.