Picture the scene. You’ve just collected your child from school. You want to show an interest in your child’s day and engage them in meaningful conversation. Your plan is to ask them a creative, engaging question but instead you blurt out: “How was school today?” If you’re lucky, you’ll get a one-word answer in reply. I’m sure you’ll recognise this scenario. If so, the KidCoachApp has been created to help mums and dads out and get families talking to each other and encourage children to develop skills they will need.
I am contacted by app creators all the time and very rarely do the apps interest me. The KidCoachApp, however, appealed to me in a big way because of its simplicity and the issue it addresses (namely: Communication between parents and children and helping families connect through conversation).
How does the KidCoachApp work?
Let me start with the basics. KidCoachApp is designed for parents to use with children aged between 6 and 12. It provides you with prompts to start a conversation and the prompts are graded: Easy, medium and hard. Better still, the app asks for feedback after each chat so future conversations can be tailored to your family.
The prompts and conversations are designed to improve six skills: Communication, leadership, critical thinking, creativity, resilience and empathy. The aim is to help children develop these skills, 21st Century skills they may need later in life at home and in the workplace.
You’re probably wondering what the questions are like. Here are a couple of examples:
Calculators can do times tables for us. How important is it for us to learn how to do it ourselves?
Would you rather have one robot arm or 10 normal arms?
Does the app encourage conversation?
As you can see from the above examples, the questions can be off-the-wall. They’re a lot more interesting than: “How was school?” or “What lessons did you have today?” They’re all open-ended questions that encourage they kind of conversations you want to have at the dinner table.
I’ve been putting KidCoachApp to the test. I posed the first question to my youngest daughter, Izzy, who is 9. I asked her:
Why might chocolate rain be a good thing?
Izzy responded very enthusiastically to this saying it would be a good way to “get free candy.” She added it might also be a way to make sure we have a plentiful supply of hot chocolate and this led to a discussion about her favourite food and drinks.
My other daughter Helen is 12 so at the limit of KidCoachApp’s target age group. I thought I would first ask Helen one of the hard questions, one designed to develop critical thinking. The question I posed was:
If you had to guess, how many words are there in the world? What about numbers?
We had a good discussion about this, discussing the concept of infinity and how to count in other languages. In fact, the conversation went so well I asked a supplementary question, also suggested by KidCoachApp:
How is this changing, if at all? Can new numbers be created? Can new words?
We came to the conclusion new numbers could be created as there is no limit to the number of numbers you can have. We also came to the conclusion new words could be created and I gave examples such as “bruh” and “henching” words that did not exist when I was young.
It also gave me an opportunity to tell Helen a bit about an Open University module I am presently studying focused on the history and development of the English language. This was a nice touch as it enabled me to tell Helen about something I am involved in.
What I’ve given above are a couple of examples, just to give you a flavour of how KidCoachApp works and how it can encourage conversation. The developers propose you have three questions at the ready to make sure there is a good conversational flow.
I was excited about KidCoachApp because I saw it’s potential. The app is easy to use and it has done exactly what it is designed to do: It encouraged meaningful conversations. Based on my experiences, I’d say it works very well and I’d encourage you to give it a go if sometimes struggle starting conversations with your own children and you want them to develop the skills outlined above.
The app is free to download from the Apple and Google stores. You get two weeks free use of KidCoachApp after which you can move on to an annual or monthly plan and cancel at any time. You’ll find prices and details on the app and on the KidCoachApp website.
Like this post? Check out the other posts in my ‘family technology’ category.