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Tablets/iPads for educational games/homework

(13 Posts)
Hooliesmoolies Wed 12-Nov-14 17:04:25

My DD's school strongly encourages children to use tablets/iPads for homework. We have decided to get some for Christmas. If we are getting one for DD (5) we will also need to get one for DS (4).

Since they will be used for educational games/reading/homework, I am thinking that the larger size would be best. I know that the smaller ones will be easier to hold, but I am assuming that if they are used on a table, or on a lap in the car, that holding them won't be an issue. I am worried that the small size will be useless for Oxford Owl books, for example (I have never found a full-page setting on Oxford owl).

So, having discounted the minis, I'm trying to decide what to get and how much storage to get. I thought the iPad airs would be good because they are light, and iPads. But I'm not sure if I'm insane to be thinking of giving something so expensive (and fragile?) to a 5 and 4 year old (even if they will be using them supervised). My other thought was a Samsung Galaxy - also very expensive, but for that I could get a 16 G one and then extend the memory later if needed. For the iPad I was thinking we should get a 32 G just so we don't end up kicking ourselves in years to come if 16 is too small.

Any advice on what to get and how much memory would be needed would be greatly appreciated!

Wizard19 Wed 12-Nov-14 18:38:31

Highly recommend Lenovo A8-50 Available at around £129. There is also an offer to get your VAT back - expires 5th December.
Look up reviews and specifications.

Got one for my DD.

admission Wed 12-Nov-14 22:40:00

I would be asking the school exactly what is required. If the school are using something in school for IT work then it will be set up for the school and may or may not be able to be bought home. So why would you buy one unless it was for personal use?
I would have real problems with the school expecting parents to buy IT equipment to use for home work as that smacks of inequality and to some extent indirect discrimination, especially in an admission context. Also if the personal equipment is then being bought into school to show homework to teacher, then there are all sorts of issues on insurance and also for the school safeguarding issues. I would make very sure exactly what the school is expecting and why, before you buy.
I am not against there use in school, one of the schools I am a governor has many ipads in school and some of the infant pupils have IT skills way beyond mine. But the ipads are set up for the school web and are not allowed outside school.

PastSellByDate Thu 13-Nov-14 10:12:49


My advice is get one for the entire family rather than individual ipads/ tablets.

3 reasons:

1) You an programme in a password to open the Ipad - which ensures that they aren't off seeing things on You Tube you'd rather they didn't. You're aware when they're using the tablet - simply because they have to ask you/ partner/ older sibling to enter the password.

2) Don't view these as a toy - something to disappear off and look at the in bedroom. (Pre-password (which we added about 6 months ago) DD1 use to disappear off to her room and watch 2 hrs + of tv programmes - nothing awful - Arthur, Pokemon, etc... - but she wasn't getting enough sleep. We didn't twig at first - she was very sneaky about it all (under the covers kind of thing) - but once we realised she was abusing 'computer time' we cracked down on it.

Just as an aside: Keep aware of how much 'screen time' they have on it - my girls certainly can while away whole mornings doing nothing but minecraft creative).

3) treat it as a learning tool - but be aware right now this is what is popular but it may not be for any number of reasons in 5 years time. To be honest most homework from school can be accessed through a standard PC. Although there are a myriad of educational APPs - my kids definitely lost interest in those and were more interested in Fruit Ninja, Angry Bird and Minion/ Brave Run type games. Indeed 18 months on in our house at least the tablet is largely used for viewing tv shows/ playing games (entertainment).


What I will say is that you may want to consider what family (especially further away) have and are comfortable using in terms of sending pictures/ skype or facetime (video telephoning over the internet - wi fi). So if Grandma or Grandpa has an iphone or ipad and can do facetime - you may want an ipad so that s/he can easily see the DCs. Sure you can skype or do something else - but sometimes getting that set up for Grandma/pa - from past experience (especially if working at great distances/ foreign countries) it may be easier to work with the system someone likes and adjust your decisions about which tablet to that.


Hooliesmoolies Thu 13-Nov-14 10:54:40

Thanks all. Some really helpful thoughts and tips.

Admissions I actually agree with you about it being a very 'exclusive' way to carry out homework. The school have iPads for the classroom, so the ones we would have wouldn't go into school. And the teachers can check by how much progress the children have made on the various apps that are used (which can be used on other tablets or laptops). We do have laptops, but my children find the mouse pad a little harder, and to be honest I think that it might be more useful for them to use an iPad since a touch screen is where everyone will be going in years to come.

Wizard I'll have a look at that - it is a great price.

PastSellByDate you are absolutely right that strict rules will need to be set up. I am intending to limit to 30 minutes a day. And for as long as possible, we will keep them as homework 'games' only. I have full intention (now) of depriving my children of most computer access for a long time. I have friends who managed to hold out for years, so I'm aspiring to something similar. I had thought that I wouldn't get anything tablet related, but I think that it is useful for them to develop some technological awareness early, since I'm guessing their generation will be heavily dependent on technology. I think the family idea is a strong one, but we will need to get one each because if they are in the car together (there will be a commute to school), not having one each will cause a war. But I think establishing that they are only used in shared family areas (kitchen, possibly living room) is a really good plan.

loudarts Thu 13-Nov-14 10:57:30

I prefer the kindle fire to ipads. You can still get a good selection of educational games and the parental controls are brilliant. Plus mine has been dropped quite a few times and still look and works like new.

PastSellByDate Thu 13-Nov-14 11:40:57


If this is a purchase for 'entertainment in the car' - I'd go with audio books every time. Classics/ Harry Potter/ Plays/ etc...

We also go over to Classic FM toward Christmas - for the Carols.


Hooliesmoolies Thu 13-Nov-14 12:16:21

PastSellByDate we love audio books in the car too, although my youngest struggles with chapter books still. My DD will listen to them for hours. The in-car tablets are an attempt to kill two birds with one stone. My DD is moving to a new school which expects daily homework (in addition to reading). There are a number of school subscriptions to computer/tablet based educational 'games' which the ask the children to do. We will have a car journey to and from school and so we are going to use some of that car time to do some of the educational games (maths/phonics) that the school would like them to do. So it isn't exactly in-car entertainment, but more so that when they get home they can relax a little. We are also planning to do chatting in the car too. I also love the idea of classic FM Christmas carols. I love Christmas carols smile

pyrrah Thu 13-Nov-14 18:52:11

We gave DD the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 for her birthday last year. I was very careful to make sure she can't purchase anything - good thing as she has tried!

A friend gave her a cheapy one (didn't have any kind of brandname at all) and it was very frustrating as screen size was small and it was very slow. The school use iPads a lot so we went from there.

Our reason for picking the Galaxy was that it's a decent screen size, the Wacom pen is fantastic and she loves drawing on it - saves me a small fortune in paper - and is really getting to grips with all the different drawing tools. Unlike most pens, this one is pressure sensitive and almost identical to using an actual pencil or pen or whatever you set it as. She can save all her pictures as well.

The camera and video are both pretty good.

Neither of us are Apple fans, and it's nice being able to get all the free Android apps - I actually need to spend some time finding some decent apps as she only has a few at the moment - and then she might spend less time watching the ghastly Barbie in the Dream House.

The most important thing is to buy a pair of headphones or you will go nuts! Also a decent protective case.

If you shop around online there are some very good deals - I think we paid around £250 earlier this year. Expensive, but she's not going to grow out of it like a Leapfrog, and there are quite enough features that she isn't going to be begging for an upgrade for a good few years. She also knows that it's not a toy and has to be looked after.

Above all, it's a superb threat - taking away the tablet is a major thing for her (even though she doesn't spend a huge amount of time on it - we don't limit her).

alittletreat Thu 13-Nov-14 19:13:01

Have you had a look at the Dell UK website? I bought a 10 inch tablet with 64gb for £250. It comes with window 8 and Microsoft office. It has been well used by my two kids. I bought from dell directly it s cheaper and better.

alittletreat Thu 13-Nov-14 19:14:24

Forgot to say bought mine in summer 2013.

Madcats Thu 13-Nov-14 20:45:28

We are a bit of a techie family so my daughter has had access to an iPad since she was 3 or 4. She does not "own" an iPad; but we negotiate over which tablet has which apps.

She knows to be careful with them, but we invested in a big fat silicone cover on our first cast-off. Perhaps, once you have narrowed down your choice, look online to see what covers are available.

Tablets have transformed our lives. There are some brilliant apps for children, beautiful animated books, great talking books etc etc.

Before you splurge, I would double check with your school that they prefer tablets over laptops. DD's (yr3) homework this evening was all internet-based (playing internet-based nutrition/healthy eating games and learning to embalm a mummy) The games needed "Flash" so I had to hand over my laptop. At some point I must find an App to teach DD to touch-type.

I recommend at least 16 GB if you want to pop a couple of movies on them. Otherwise you need to stop the kids taking screen prints and photos and be diligent at removing old/unused apps and music. 32GB would be better

I've not looked, but have you checked the prices of second hand/refurbed tablets?

alittletreat Fri 14-Nov-14 08:41:12

I know dell UK, Argos, tesco etc do sell refurbished tablets on eBay and still come with 1 year warranty. I had bought s tablet from Argos once and was happy with it and return it in 14 days without any problem. But I am not keen second hand from personal sale.

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