Agnitus ipad App

 

AgnitusScreen2 images-10 images-11

We’ve been using the Agnitus App a while – since last year sometime.  It’s basically a touch enabled fun educational app for kids aged 2-7.  It used to be free but just when it was getting good they suddenly went subscription only.  Anyway we subscribed.  There are a lot of apps out there but what I liked about Agnitus (I’m getting to the things I don’t like or don’t understand) are the fact that there are lots of different very interesting educational ‘games’ within the app and these keep updating either to new levels or replaced by apps that keep pace with my son’s development, knowledge and skills.  They are very relatable with bright colours, sweet cartoons and a friendly learning buddy ‘Icky’.   I can also monitor his usage in my spare time – see where his time has been spent, see how he compares to other children and how well he ‘tests’ at these games. I can edit his collection of apps if I think he is just doing the ‘easy’ ones.  I don’t do that though. For instance I can see my son overwhelmingly prefers maths – over 350 minutes spent across all apps, 250 of those minutes went just on maths.  The categories change but include things like literacy, balance, memory, spatial awareness, quantity, daily routines, visual scanning (whatever that means). My son is really above average at visual scanning.  Proud!  Maybe this means he’ll be good at looking for bacteria under a microscope!

Who knew visual scanning would take me all the way to Harvard!

Who knew visual scanning would take me all the way to Harvard!

Which brings me to the things I don’t like about Agnitus.  They grade your child!  My three year old son spent 1 minute on science and got a C. Really? In a whole 1 minute?  I guess they are appealing to every kind of parent, not my kind.  Also I’m highly skeptical about Agnitus’ ability to teach skills.  I’m not an expert though.  The tagline used to be ‘Agnitus, games for learning’. Now it just says ‘Agnitus’.  Perhaps some regulatory body questioned its claims to teach.  For example  the tracing letters exercise which my son aced, brought him no closer to tracing letters in the real world.  If fact, it may have built some resistance as tracing was a lot easier on the iPad requiring less finger exertion.  Muscle strength in the hands is a huge part of fine motor skills so its not a small thing.  Likewise, he found it quite easy to treat Agnitus like a video game  and ‘score’ with random hits and also just enjoyed treating it as game not actually thinking about the content.

 

http://www.agnitus.com  – ignore the creepy lobotomised mom video intro!

 

But I have stuck with it because it is somewhat educational and it does interest him and it may give me a half an hour to do something else.  As he has gotten older – he’s almost four, I’ve noticed him using it more and more as an educational tool than a dartboard.  We do some games together and he is better at some of them than I am!  I think it has reinforced things I have taught him and perhaps even added to what he knows, although he still treats it as a game and so scores lower than I think his actual knowledge deserves.  It is also showing me where his self directed exploration takes him and that reinforces what I choose to do in homeschool.  It has shown me we can do a lot more with maths and shapes because this sort of thing he really likes but literacy and anything to do with handwriting has to be a lot more fun because he’s not so naturally inclined this way.  He loves reading though and loves being read to by the Agnitus talking books.

I’m not sure what else is out there that might have more value for money but I think I will stick with it because it really suits my needs as a homeschooler who already spends a lot of time ‘teaching’ my son 1-2-1. I don’t feel guilty about this screen time and it seems to be becoming more beneficial as time goes on.  I’m a little excited to see how the app keeps pace with my 4, 5 even 6 year old son.  The signs are good.

 

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School’s Out, In Out

The latest on schools and the Ebola crisis in Nigeria is that schools were postponed until at least October 13th by the Ministry of Health – a couple of schools were forcibly closed by armed  personnel.  Then  private schools lobbied the government and schools are now due to resume September 22nd.

Since then the debate has been raging for parents – should schools be open or closed.

 

The arguments to open

  • Most parents work and do not have materials, time or inclination to teach their children at home.  Perhaps they don’t even really have a home suitable for children to be cooped up all day or left to their own devices.
  • Some children are preparing for exams – for them every week of school they miss could make the difference in their grades.
  • Parents have also in many cases already paid school fees that schools are unlikely to refund.  They are highly invested in getting value for this money, Ebola or not.
  • Yes there is Ebola but Nigeria is a country of many plagues, from dengue fever to malaria which kill thousands every year. To date Ebola has only killed 18.  Under such circumstances the mentality is very much – life must go on.  Weddings, naming ceremonies, funerals and church services. School too.  It’s not like there’s an end point in sight.  This could go on for some time.

 

The arguments to stay closed

  • Adults can quickly learn the language of Ebola. Preventing transmission requires avoiding physical contact with the fluids of an infected person, so no kissing, handshakes, touching sweat, vomit , blood, diarrhoea etc.   Washing hands with soap and water and using hand sanitisers as well as practice good hygiene can go  a long way to keeping Ebola from spreading. Even teenage children struggle to keep this up.  Children love to touch, are generally nasty and do not understand the seriousness of the instructions.
  • Schools in Nigeria are not regulated and held to the same standards as most Western schools.  Some do not have running water never mind soap. Many do not have toilet paper and, especially less developed areas, the ‘toilets’ will be as basic as you can imagine.  Ebola would rip through such schools leaving the nation with the horrific spectacle of children in isolation and possibly dying.
  • Ebola seemed to be trailing off at one point but has broken out again in another Nigerian city where there are reportedly 400 people under surveillance. This is far from over. Schools should wait until it is over – safety first.
  • It’s easy for me to say schools should be closed as I only have 1 pre-K age son who I’ve already been homeschooling for  a year and a toddler who is nearly 2.  I also think Ebola has been managed pretty well by the authorities here and do not feel too much at risk, hence why I’m still here in the country.   I am with my children pretty much all the time so I can limit their activities with strangers and monitor their sanitation personally.
  • We still don’t have Zmapp in Nigeria. There’s a lot of talk about trials and getting Zmapp but it’s not here.

There are pros and cons and the safety of our children should always take priority. I don’t think the new earlier resumption of September 22nd is wise. I think we should still wait but I do understand this is a tough decision  and a huge responsibility for the Health Minister also my child is not going to school so I will reserve judgement and try to stay positive