Edmonton and Athabacsa University-based startup iAM-Ready is launching its iPad app today to help parents and teachers determine whether a child is ready for school.
The iAM-Ready Pre-k Assess and Learn and is the brainchild of Athabasca University professor Dr. Linda Chmiliar, who wants to take the guesswork out of seeing if a child is ready for school, while providing suggestions about how to improve the child’s readiness.
“There is nothing on the market that gives parents and teachers a quick and cost-effective way of knowing what developmental skills a child might need help with,” says Chmiliar. “This tool makes it simple and fun for the child, but provides a way for parents and teachers to understand, at a glance, which skills the child has mastered and where there are weaknesses.”
Chmiliar teamed up with mobile development company Fission Media to create an “easy-to-use, fun app that provides an informal assessment of a child” before they enter a classroom.
iAM-Ready Pre-K Assess and Learn takes the child through a series of interactive activities on the iPad and records and tracks the child’s performance across a number of developmental areas. The child’s voice can also be recorded during responses to oral questions.
For parents, the app “empowers them to help their child develop their school readiness skills.” It provides suggestions for teaching skills that need work, as well as recommendations for apps that can teach and support specific skills. “Most parents already know that their child can use their iPad or smart phone, and they know how engaged the child is with games on these mobile technologies. What they also need to know is what a powerful teaching tool the iPad can be for the child, and which apps will best facilitate their child’s development” reports Dr. Chmiliar.
For educators, the app provides a simple way to assess students and share reports with parents. The ability to have a child complete an assessment with the support of an adult, on the iPad, “will be a highly cost effective and efficient way to gather assessment information,” according to the startup. In addition, it says the teaching and app suggestions for each skill can save the educator hours of precious research and planning time.
Tom Dodd of Fission Media said the app took nearly six months to create. “When you use the app, you will see why. All the balloons popping, balls in bins, tracing lines, selecting letters and numbers, doing puzzles, tracking success and mistakes, recording voices, showing reports, connecting email or a printer…all had to be created and programmed,” he said. “The app is now ready for use by parents and teachers… we hope it contributes to a better start for children and a better world for the future.”