No. 032 CHILDREN'S EDUCATIONAL APPS, XANDER
Theme: Future Thinking
In our digital age, where more and more youth are learning from the things they view online, it is refreshing to see content pop up that actually offers proper education. Xander’s educational apps for young children, aged three to nine, is a way of ensuring that kids have access to mother-tongue learning, in various South African languages, from a very early age.
Recently acquired by Durban-based Kylix Information Systems, which also runs IT Varsity (an online app-development school) and CompuKids (coding courses for children), Xander has already amassed some awards, both for the app itself and for founder Sibella Knott-Craig, who developed her idea with Tribage in 2014. It has been lauded for making early development learning enjoyable while ensuring children are able to gain basic apprehension in their home language.
For around R12 an app (some are free), parents can purchase a variety of applications in English, Xhosa, Zulu, Swahili, Afrikaans, Tswana, Sotho and Shona. There are options for a range of skills and apprehension – from spelling and vocabulary to numeracy, fine-motor skills, memory, rhyming and pattern recognition.
Says Xander Project Manager Maseehullah Kathrada, “When it comes to screen time, it’s important to find a balance between productivity and entertainment. Xander’s apps are both fun and engaging.” He says that the most popular are those in Zulu and Xhosa. “In fact, those two languages are also the most downloaded outside of South Africa!”
Xander boasts over one-million downloads across its applications that include practical lessons such as telling the time and number tracing. “Each app has a slightly different approach, so it could be a video game, a drag-and-drop-style puzzle or word searches,” says Kathrada. He gives two examples: “There’s a numeracy app with a beautiful background and balloons that float up with numbers in them. As a number is called out, you’ve got to pop the right balloon. And there are spelling apps that teach animal names. You’re shown a picture of an animal and there are blocks with letters in them that you drag to spell out the name while a little animation plays with the animal sounds and someone reads the name and description of the animal.”
Online learning, it seems, can be a whole lot of fun!
Xander is available on iOS and Android.
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