Monday, March 13, 2017

A new app for encouraging development—and fun

At 15 months old, Ben has two favorite playthings. They are called "a pair of socks." Whenever he can, he opens my sock drawer, makes his selection and toddles around, one clutched in each fist. His other preferred toys include the bread drawer (as in, opening and closing it), toting around the basket in our kitchen where I store toys and all the steps on our staircase.

I've been trying various ways to get Ben to engage with toys, and in recent weeks I've found great ideas on WeeSchool, a new app a friend asked me to check out for a compensated post. Described as an "all-in-one smart parenting app," it helps parents support tots' preschool readiness. It's also supposed to (B-O-N-U-S!) make parenting easier. The app is the brainchild of the creator of Baby Einstein, Julie Clark.

The Play Plans are my favorite feature. A "curriculum" for babies from birth to age 3, WeeSchool gives monthly recommended activities, books, toys and music. Categories covered include Approaches to Learning, Logic and Reason, Physical and Health, Social and Emotional, Mathematics, Science and Performing Arts. (Too bad they left out "The Art of Sleeping Late and Not Waking Your Parents Up at 5:30 a.m." as Ben could use a little education in that department.)

The activities all involve common toys. With Making Music, for example, as your wee one plunks out a tune on a xylophone, the suggestions prompt you to label what he's doing—say, "I see you're holding two mallets. You can use the mallets to strike the keys and make music." Simple enough, right? But it wasn't something I'd thought of. (Download the WeeSchool app here by June 1 and you can register for free, lifetime access to all premium WeeSchool content and features.)

Every activity includes "Why this play is important" info. Participating in music, WeeSchool explains, supports the development of critical thinking, self-assessment, reasoning, problem solving and collaboration skills. Experimenting with sounds, motion and words allows children to communicate in ways that reflect their learning style. 

The "Music" section under Play offers tunes and accompanying play ideas. For Month 15, for example, the suggestion is to gather stuffed animals or photos of animals, and discuss the speed at which each moves, like slow for a cat. As you describe their motions, you talk slowly, emphasizing the words "slow" and "slowly." Then you play the mellow tune and imitate the movement of a slow animal. And if you suddenly decide to arch your aching back up and down like a cat because: carrying around a toddler, he will think it's really amusing. 

While WeeSchool gives parents a personalized way to track milestones—and even lets you snap them as they happen—it also offers ideas for encouraging them. I am not one to zealously stay on top of milestones, but I am all for nurturing them. The video for "Says some words" recommends placing several objects your child knows into a box—like blocks, a ball, a cup, a stuffed animal or a doll—then asking questions about them as she looks in the box. And if she doesn't respond? Well, then, answer yourself. Oh, and in case you could use some ideas for new toys, there are curated suggestions. (Did I mention: WeeSchool is free, just sign up by June 1 to get forever access). 

In the Journal part of the app, you can log milestones or just upload monthly See Me Grow photos and videos (and you can opt to get reminders to take them, just in case you're not already taking a bazillion pics of your child). Plus you can share them with friends and family, and export them, too.

I really appreciated the tech-y features in the For Baby "Sleep" section. You have nine sound choices, including lullabies, nature or white noise such as Ceiling Fan, Babbling Brook and that wondrous musical delight known as "vacuum cleaner." The selections end after 30 minutes, although you can choose to play them continuously or to restart if your baby cries. If you click "Done Sleeping" when the baby wakes up, the app will save the data so you end up with a comprehensive log of how much your baby's sleeping. The app will not, however, convince your baby that he does not need a 3:37 a.m. feeding, which is where your partner will come in handy.

Getting a tot to sleep well isn't easy. Neither is entertaining one, especially when you're competing with wondrous socks. But WeeSchool has been helping me to better capture Ben's attention and nurture that growing brain of his—and make floor time more exciting for both of us. 

Download the WeeSchool app here by June 1 and you can register for free, lifetime access to all premium WeeSchool content and features.


  1. Wow - this sounds amazing - thanks for the information. What a great idea!!! I plan to try it and will let all my friends know about it as well!!

  2. This sounds awesome! I nee to try it!



Thanks for sharing!

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