A couple of months ago, we introduced a new series called Screen-Time: We Give a Hoot. This series highlights apps for children that are high-quality, safe, and fun. Each month, we will highlight a new developer, and learn about their apps, why they made them, and a bit about their companies.
We’re excited to introduce to you the third app in our series – Khan Academy Kids! We hope you enjoy getting to know more about this app and Co-founder, Caroline Hu Flexer.
Tell us a bit about you – your name, location, background, how you came to be in the app space and where you are today. Anything you want to share with us here … all about you!
I’m Caroline Hu Flexer, CEO and Cofounder of Duck Duck Moose and now Khan Academy Kids. My husband Michael and I were inspired by watching our own daughters delight in learning. We thought there was room for more high-quality, engaging, and educational online content. In 2009, we launched our first app, Wheels on the Bus, which was one of the first educational apps for kids on the App Store. Today, Duck Duck Moose has 22 apps for children and over 60 million downloads.
In 2016, Duck Duck Moose joined the non-profit Khan Academy because we wanted to reach kids who need access to educational resources the most. We took everything we had learned building the Duck Duck Moose apps and created Khan Academy Kids, an educational program for children two to six years old. We worked with early learning specialists, artists, educators, parents, and of course kids to design an experience that strikes the right balance between fun and education.
Tell us a bit about your company. What do you do? What’s the “why” behind why you do what you do?
Our mission is to create a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. Our team at Khan Academy Kids is focused on creating a strong learning foundation for preschoolers and early elementary school students. Our goal is to make sure that all children are ready to start kindergarten strong and go on to enjoy school and thrive. All of our resources are 100% free—no ads, subscriptions, or in-app purchases.
What do you think is the key to having a successful app?
I believe the key to having a successful app in our space is putting the child at the forefront of the design process. We have a kid-centric design process, which means we start by observing the way kids play and interact. We notice what they find fun and challenging. Then we keep the child top of mind as we design new interactive lessons, create original characters, and author and illustrate our books.
We play test with children as we iterate on different designs so we understand what engages them and helps them learn deeply. We learned early on that if kids aren’t having fun they disengage, so we spent a lot of time creating our original characters, building a whole world for them to inhabit, and testing our activities to make sure kids find them engaging.
As well as wanting Khan Academy Kids to be engaging, we think about the app’s educational value. We work with child development specialists and teachers to develop our curriculum and employ the most effective teaching strategies for different ages.
Tell us a bit about your app. What is it called? Who is it for?
Khan Academy Kids is an educational program that is designed to inspire a lifetime of learning and discovery for children ages two to six. It includes interactive and original content across early literacy, language, math, and social-emotional skills. We worked with early-learning experts from Stanford to create thousands of books, songs, creative projects, and learning activities. The app is a favorite with families for use at home but can also be used in the classroom, at the library, or on a trip. We also just added offline functionality so you don’t have to access the internet to use the app.
We celebrated Khan Academy Kids’ one year anniversary in July, and we’re ecstatic about the participation we’ve seen so far!
- 2.6 million downloads
- 16 million books read
- 15 million social-emotional learning activities completed
- 64 million math activities completed
- 5+ million minutes of movement and dance
What makes your app special or unique?
Lastly, our app is completely free for everyone forever. I think that’s a game changer because we know that if children miss out in the early years, the gaps that form persist over a lifetime. We want all children to have access to resources that allow them to start kindergarten strong. We are focusing our partnership efforts in areas that will help us reach underserved families, so if you know of organizations we should be working with, we’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where do you see your brand going in the future?
We’re all about books so we’ve gotta ask – what are your top three favourite books?
My favorite children’s books are William Steig’s Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Tomi dePaola’s Strega Nona, and Leo Lionni’s Fish is Fish.
A big thank you to Caroline and everyone at Khan Academy Kids for taking part in our series! You can learn more about Khan Academy Kids by visiting their website.