Thinking Time Pro - Cognitive Skill Training

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
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Great app taps into essential executive function skills.

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The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn and practice important cognitive function skills such as memory, flexible thinking, self-control, reasoning, and attention. Kids work on these skills by repeating back increasingly longer sequences, continuing increasingly more complex patterns, and sorting according to ever-changing rules and conditions. Instruction is often minimal, so kids must also use logic and deductive reasoning (aka trial and error) to uncover the rules of the game. Thinking Time Pro is a great workout for young brains, developing important but sometimes left-behind cognitive skills. 

Ease of Play

Game rules are not always explained perfectly and can take some getting used to. Some kids might need extra help. 

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Thinking Time Pro - Cognitive Skill Training presents kids with four games, each of which addresses some combination of "executive function" skills. The main learning themes are memory, reasoning, inhibition control, and flexible thinking, but games also require kids to pay attention and follow rules. Games can be challenging, and they get more so on higher levels; kids really need to pay attention. Kids collect fish to put in a virtual fish tank as they complete levels. Parents can create up to four accounts to allow individual kids to progress at their own pace. Each account also collects performance data and generates progress scores for parents to review. If parents provide an email address, they will get progress reports emailed to them. A limited version is available for free.

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What's it about?

Kids stretch their executive function muscles in four games that require them to pay attention and closely follow the rules. For example, kids sort colored shapes by either color or shape. Then, the sorting rule begins to switch mid-game, and kids must both inhibit their initial impulse to sort according to the old rule and adjust to the new rule. Other games have kids repeat sequences or continue patterns. When kids successfully complete all four tasks, they earn a fish to add to their virtual aquarium.

Is it any good?

Thinking Time Pro - Cognitive Skill Training gets top marks for attempting to get at super important but not so salient cognitive skills. A strong research base clearly supports and informs the structure of the games. Games also progress nicely as they increase in difficulty and continue to challenge kids. In fact, the games can get quite challenging; kids really need to pay attention. Directions are minimal. For some kids this may simply present an extra challenge to stretch their reasoning skills to find out what the game is asking of them. Many kids, however, will need more help. Clearer and more complete instructions, particularly in the early levels of the games, would make them more accessible.  

The comparison scores in the progress reports for parents can be helpful to get a general idea of where your kids are in regard to their peers, but be careful not to take them too seriously or use them as evidence of genius or to diagnose learning delays. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about noticing and continuing patterns or sequences all around them. Look at quilts, sing songs and rhymes with repeated refrains, run simple obstacle courses, and more.

  • Challenge kids' ability to wait and control their initial impulses with games that require turn-taking. 

  • Play games and do activities in which kids need to keep information in their memories (think the classic memory game of matching cards) or follow rules; tackle logic puzzles or problems that have more than one solution.

App details

For kids who love staying sharp

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