My five-year-old son heads to kindergarten in two weeks. (Cue sobbing.) While he talks a blue streak and wields a glue stick like a lightsaber, we’re still working on his reading skills. So I was absolutely tickled by how quickly he became absorbed in Learn with Homer, a beautifully designed new iPad app created by literacy experts that just launched this week.

This app is utterly charming. The artwork, songs, and stories are lovely, and the scientific segments are thoroughly engaging. The design is so pretty, there’s even a whole Learn with Homer shop on, one of our favorite resources for arty gadget cases.

Related: 12 of the best educational apps for preschoolers

But what’s more important is how the Homer team has integrated the Common Core literacy standards into a comprehensive app that really engages kids. After we sat down together to create an account and take his photo, my kid pushed me away and immersed himself in Homer’s world all by himself. (He did return later to hug me and thank me for “this cool new game.”)

In fact, the parent site shows me just how much he’s explored: I can listen to recordings of him practicing the B and T sounds, hear his answers to post-story questions, and see his drawing of our family (which admittedly could use some work). I can even print out lesson completion certificates and coloring pages.


learn with homer parent site on cool mom tech

The app is free to download and accommodates up to three kids’ accounts, and there’s plenty to do in the 30 lessons that come with it. But if your kids tear through it the way my son has, additional packs are available for purchase by parents–yay for not racking up in-app debt.

Learn with Homer makes no promises about children’s Ivy League potential, only that a bunch of smart people who know about learning have put a lot of work into this app. I find that refreshing.

Maybe my son won’t be reading at a fourth grade level by next week, but at least he’ll be even more excited about the prospect of learning. Which is kind of the point of education, right?

Get the Learn with Homer app at the iTunes store for free. Additional lesson packs start at $1.99.