We are serious computer junkies in our house. Three of us, five computers. You do the math. When your six-year-old has his own laptop, that is serious business.
Monkey Man has so many more opportunities to learn about computers. From the time he was old enough to push a mouse around, The World's Most Expensive Preschool gave him "computer lab" time and he has really flourished. Heck, he can do stuff that even I can't do, and I'm not exactly a slouch in the computer department.
What's difficult is finding children's software that isn't just fun, but educational and also good quality. Enter JumpStart World and their great programs for Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade.
We tried out the Kindergarten program. What you get is an "Adventure Pack" that has dozens of learning games and missions for kids to use. They work their way through the game - there are so many cool games to play with 3-D characters. Personally, I loved the characters - just cartoonish enough without being cheesy, no high-pitched annoying voices, and the encouragement that they offer (even when you're not doing so hot) is really important in getting kids hooked into staying with the game versus throwing their hands up in frustration. Kids work through the mission earning "prizes" and earning pieces to their "Friendship Badge". Pretty cool stuff.
As a parent, I also liked that I can stay in tune with exactly how Monkey Man is progressing by checking his progress that is automatically updated into the parental section. I can personalize it with his name, his birthday, photos, and the little avatar that represents him throughout the units. I was also able to go unit by unit and see exactly what was being covered - a little math, a little reading, and a little bit of brain-stretching critical thinking. That got big thumbs-up from me, because the kid gets seriously bored if it's "just" one thing that the program focuses on. Mix it up, and he's hooked.
So after I got to play with it a little bit (and realize that I am pathetic at computer games), I turned him loose with it.
He loved it. Even more than his beloved Kid Pix software which we've probably almost worn out. It wasn't so easy that he got bored, but not so hard that he got frustrated. And the true test? He is able to sit there for at least 30 minutes easily without me hearing a peep from him. And I know he's not just having a good time, but he's learning and reinforcing what he has learned all at the same time. Priceless.
The best part? The Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade programs cost $19.99 each. Great stocking stuffers for the little brainiacs on your holiday shopping list. Not to mention you can also subscribe to their website to get new Adventure Packs. How cool is that? And if you want to give it a whirl, they offer a free trial.
Seriously, go give this a try because I think you and your kids will love it. Not to mention, how much will you love 30 minutes of peace and quiet knowing they're doing something good versus shaving the cat again? Exactly.
Read what other bloggers have to say about this and other exciting products over at Parent Bloggers Network!