Just before school let out, the kindergarten teachers sent a note home with all of the kids, inviting all parents to attend a meeting to meet the first grade teacher and to talk about how to prevent what they called the Kindergarten slide. They described this as the children forgetting some of what they had learned their Kindergarten year over the summer break.
I wasn't too concerned, my son has always enjoyed reading books and doing activity books - including math activity books (I found a great Spiderman one in the $1 bin at Target a few months ago). In addition, he likes to get to play on the computer from time to time and we limit this to the "educational" type games. I, of course, want to limit any screen time, especially when it is nice outside - but I also recognize that the right program can help him learn and reinforce the skills that he has learned, so we tend to use the computer as an option for early morning or rainy days, when playing outside is not an option, or when we need a break from the sun.
So, I was excited, when, a while back, I was invited to give the new JumpStart virtual world a trial run. From Knowledge Adventure, the group who has been bringing us Jump Start computer software, the new virtual world and games are designed for children ages 3 - 10 years. The kids get to create their own avatar, called Jumpeez, to explore the virtual world. There are different games, videos and storybooks that teach thing like math and reading.
My son loves it! I was watching him play earlier today. He is having fun, but doesn't really know that he is reinforcing the skills that he learned in kindergarten.
I actually recommended he move on from Story Book Land, which is designed for children ages 3 - 5, as I felt that the games, educational for a preschooler, were a little too young for him. They help your child with counting, sequencing, identification and more. In the one game, they are given a grocery list to fill their cart with. They have to go to the right section of the store and place the right quantity of items in their basket. It is really cute. If they select more than they need, the program gently informs them that they don't need any more of that.
He moved onto Adventure Land, which is designed for the K - 2 set. One of his favorite activities is the Jet Pack. In this game, the two curriculum that are reviewed are in reading and math. Their are a variety of games and for each a level and an ease of play option. He was busy finding the equations that equalled 22 and looking for the pictures that had the long i sound. He really enjoyed finding all of them and completing each game. He was especially excited as he earned coins for completing each game. The coins can be used to buy their avatar clothing or house decorations to personalize their world.
There is a new area in the works called Future Land that is designed for children in the 3rd - 5th grade.
In addition there are arcade style games including Buggy Racer, Dodge Bot and Sound Bop. Even these arcade style games offer learning.
For the parents, there is a blog that includes ideas on things to do with your children as well as other tips, tricks and tales. There is also a discussion board. Interestingly, some of the posts are parents seeking help in unlocking things in the games. An opportunity to interact with other parents whose children are exploring the magical virtual world at JumpStart.
Thanks to the group at JumpStart, I am pleased to be able to giveaway one free 3 month membership on JumpStart.com to one lucky reader. It is a great way to reinforce what your kids are learning at school and/or to help them advance their skills.
To enter, simply leave a comment telling me who would use the membership, whether it is your son or daughter, your grandchild, your neighbor or someone else? For an additional entry, follow me on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway - be sure to come back and leave a comment with a link to your tweet.
The giveaway will remain open until Tuesday, July 7th at 6 pm. A random number generator will be used to select the winner. The winner will be notified by e-mail and will have 24 hours to reply or a new winner will be selected.
For more tips and tricks, check out Works for Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family.