So your child is getting ready to make one of the big steps in life - starting school. Pretty neat - but you'd like to try to ease the transition from the freedom of play, to the regimen of school, and you've heard about some popular software...
Computer programs for kids who can't even tie their own shoes, let alone read?
This month, SuperKids took an in-depth look at programs targeted at toddlers (18 mos. to 3 years), preschoolers (3 to 5 years), and kindergartners (4 to 6 year-olds). We were pleasantly surprised to discover that all of the programs we looked at provided impressive educational value in formats that were appealing to our kid testers.
Reader Rabbit's Toddler [for ages 18 mos. to 3 years] from The Learning Company provides a visually entertaining introduction to the computer for very young users. Mouse control, shape matching, sing-alongs, and coloring activities will captivate first-timers.
Fisher-Price Ready for School Toddler Edition [for ages 18 mos. to 3 years] from Davidson uses Fisher-Price's Little People as guides to 10 activities that include introductions to numbers, letters, mazes, as well as coloring, naming body parts, and matching animal sounds.
Reader Rabbit's Preschool [for ages 3 to 5] from The Learning Company is an updated version of Let's Start Learning. Provides valuable activities for letter and sound recognition, and shapes and patterns. An excellent early learning tool for pre-schoolers.
Fisher-Price Ready for PreSchool [for ages 2 to 4] from Davidson provides a fun way for the young child to acquire beginning computer, early pre-reading, and pre-math skills through engaging activities. Young users also will learn to follow directions, and complete assigned tasks.
Reader Rabbit's Kindergarten [for ages 4 to 6] from The Learning Company provides a goal-oriented storyline, where the user must master multiple levels of 4 skill-building activities encompassing numbers, relationships, spatial reasoning, and memory. Best for child with an interest in computer-based skill building and an adequate attention span
Fisher-Price Ready for School Kindergarten Edition [for ages 3 to 6] from Davidson provides a loose collection of 10 activities ranging from the alphabet and simple math, to coloring, shape matching, and memorization. Suitable for a child with a shorter attention span.
JumpStart Kindergarten 2.0 [for ages 4 to 6] from Knowledge Adventure contains 18 activities aimed at fundamental skills including letter and sound recognition, counting and early math concepts, language arts, time concepts and the calendar. With its classroom exploration design, users with short attention spans will find much to do and reason to return.
In addition to these titles for the very young, SuperKids had previously reviewed other Early Learning programs. Check out the review summary, because many of them are still available.
Do we recommend starting pre-school children on computers? Yes, if they are interested, and if you are willing to work with them. Computer software is not a surrogate parent, care-giver, or teacher for these young children.
The key to selecting valuable early learning software for your children, is to match their current level of understanding with the level of the material presented in the programs. Click on the program names to read reviews of the specific titles, or click on "PC" or "Mac" in the price survey column to take a look at current market prices in our Buyers Guide.