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spacer all reviews > > > reading software

The JumpStart Phonics Learning System

Knowledge Adventure

Ages 3 to 8

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
4.3
Kid Appeal
4.3
Ease of Use
4.5

System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

This complete learning system, presumably created to compete with Reader Rabbit's Complete Learn to Read System from The Learning Company, provides parents with a multi-media method for teaching children to read.

The 4-part system consists of two educational videos featuring familiar JumpStart characters, learning stories and songs; three (brief) paper workbooks to reinforce onscreen learning; three "Learning Games" CD-ROMs (JumpStart ABC's, JumpStart Spelling and JumpStart Phonics) that include everything from arcade-style games to interactive stories and sing-along songs; and JumpStart Phonics, an early reading program with "Read 'n' Respond" speech recognition technology to provide kids with immediate feedback on their developing skills.

Educational Value
The package's four step approach to learning strives to "expose" kids to phonics through the video component, "develop" needed skills through the "Learning Games" CD-ROMs which provide kids with hours of learning drills and span a large range of ages, "reinforce" skills with workbooks and "sharpen" skills with Read 'n' Respond technology. This goal is met by repackaging individually released titles into a handy Reading System that gives kids abundant opportunity to practice phonics and early reading skills.

Kid Appeal
The four CD-ROMs are well-produced and each affords plenty of directed learning and fun. Although there is overlap in the target age for each of the programs, they are meant to be used in a progression -- the average 3 year-old is clearly too young for JumpStart Spelling program, while 8 year-olds are likely to be bored by JumpStart ABC's despite charming characters and sophisticated graphics. This makes it difficult to judge the program's longevity value. In general, however, each of the programs received above average ratings from our testers and their parents.

Ease of Use / Install
All four CD-ROMs installed without difficulty on our test machines. The Read 'n' Respond technology portion of JumpStart Phonics requires installation of IBM Via Voice, which is included on the CD-ROM (for more about the installation of this program please see the complete JumpStart Phonics review).

Best for... / Bottom-Line
This program offers parents and teachers a multi-media method of teaching phonics and early reading to young children. Its user-friendly format makes it work with or without parental involvement, however the included voice recognition technology is far from perfect and does not match a care giver's personal touch. Because this program is meant to follow the child from his or her first exposure to letters through refinement of reading and spelling skills, it is especially recommended for children at the younger end of the age range. Those in the older years would do better purchasing JumpStart Spelling as a single title.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other reading software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 95/98, 100 MHz or faster cpu, 45 MB hard drive space, 16 MB RAM, (32 MB RAM recommended), 256-color or higher graphics display, 4x or faster CD-ROM, 16-bit windows-compatible sound card.

Mac: System 7.5.3 or higher, Power Macintosh or faster cpu, 15 MB hard drive space, 32 MB RAM, 256-color or higher graphics display, 4x or faster CD-ROM.

Reviewed on:

  • PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
  • Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD
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