According to experts, computer games can be fun and helpful to preschool age children if they follow these guidelines:
? Encourage exploration, problem solving, and use of imagination
? Build on what the child already knows
? Is multi-sensory, using sound, music, and voice
? Provides open-ended play where the child is in control of the pace
Our 4 year old daughter really loves to play computer games. When she was 3, we bought her Jumpstart Preschool Classic Version. The box says it is for ages 2-4 and “teaches essential skills for school.” The computer program begins with an assortment of animal characters playing outside a school. To continue with the program, the child clicks on the school house door and this opens into a schoolroom. Each game is begun by clicking on various objects and characters in the schoolroom. Some just played songs; her favorite was “You Are My Sunshine”. Other favorites were playing hide and seek with a fish; coloring pictures; picking up trash; and matching a turtle with her eggs. This computer game kept my daughter’s attention and focus more than any other game we tried or purchased. The game really built her confidence in using the mouse, clicking and dragging, and following instructions. I would say it fell on the younger range of the 2-4 age given, but it is great for a 2 or 3 year old.
Like most preschool age children, our daughter has a range of interests. Sometimes she is very involved in computer games and other times she won’t play for weeks. Family and child experts recommend no more than an hour of total screen time for a preschool child. Screen time is considered to be television as well as computer or video games. We do try to mix screen time with other more active things to do.
Eventually, she was tired of Jumpstart Preschool Classic Version and all of the other assorted computer games she had, and we began searching for a new computer game. Since she really likes Nick Jr., we bought some computer games based on those characters. She enjoyed these games, but she became bored quickly with some, and frustrated at her learning curve with others. We also appreciated the fact that Jumpstart is timeless and not tied to a television show character. They will be fun and playable five years from now.
We knew she had enjoyed the Jumpstart Preschool, so we looked for another Jumpstart computer game. We ended up getting Jumpstart Advanced Preschool, “the complete get ready for school program”. It has 4 CDs.
#1 is “Toddler School Time” and she played with that a little, but it would be better for a child unfamiliar with the computer to get comfortable playing.
#2 is “Preschool Fundamentals”. This one is great! It has a pretest at the beginning to assess the skill level of the child, and to determine their preferred style of learning. My daughter enjoys the test so much she clicks the option to take it every time. This CD is full of games like matching shapes and colors, rhyming words and pictures, making and coloring animal faces and creating tunes with jazz-playing instruments. It is very easy to navigate and understand. My daughter especially enjoys being able to print out the animal faces she creates and my only challenge is keeping her from using all the paper!
#3 CD is called “Language Club” and takes the child to a place reminiscent of Epcott Center where there are different buildings assigned to a country .Each building, or area, speaks a different language and introduces some of their culture. The child must complete certain assignments and earn pieces. After a certain number of pieces, the child can watch a little video, so it has a strong motivational reward. Our daughter loves words and is fascinated with other languages, so she spends a lot of time with this computer game as well.
#4 is called “Art For Fun”. It has four categories of crafts in it: making a book ; creating a banner; making greeting cards; and painting. My daughter wasn’t as thrilled with this one. Since it does ask the child to name the crafts in order to save them, if your child doesn’t read or write, this game will require more parental involvement than any of the others.
All of the Jumpstart Advanced Preschool games use both written and spoken words for most commands, so it provides a great way for the child to begin recognizing written words. These computer games follow the guidelines provided in the beginning of the article.
We bought the Jumpstart Kindergarten CD as well, but we’re holding that one back until our little computer gamer is tired of the Jumpstart Advanced Preschool Computer Game Pack.
We would definitely recommend any of the Jumpstart computer games for your children.