Christine Koh

Hello!

I'm Christine Koh, a music and brain neuroscientist turned multimedia creative. I'm the founder + editor of Boston Mamas, co-author of Minimalist Parenting, co-host of the Edit Your Life podcast, and creative director at Women Online. Drop me a line; I'd love to chat about how we can work together!

JumpStart World

jumpstart.jpgToday, one of my mama product testers shares a review of JumpStart World. Three of her kids (twin kindergarten daughters and a particularly astute almost 3-year-old son) tested out this educational video programming. Read on for the full review, and also to learn how to be one of 30 winners to receive a copy of JumpStart World!
“The girls LOVE JumpStart World. Unlike most of the computer games and websites we've seen, JumpStart is a mix of learning games that aim to develop specific academic skills like matching, phonemic awareness, counting, etc., as well as "missions" that emphasize basic social goals like sharing and friendship, and activities that are purely for fun. A "Camp" setting allows children to explore freely, entering various cabins, learning "arcades," and even an art studio. The overall program is set up with the aim of linear progress through grade-level skills. After completing "Adventure Packs," parents can purchase additional, incrementally advanced Packs via retailers or the JumpStart website, but kids can choose how they go about completing each individual Pack. "Gems" are easily earned by playing a wide variety of games, and can be used to make cyber purchases at the "Zippy Mart" or even to buy a pet that then follows along on the adventure.

Up to three children's information is stored simultaneously, so both the girls and my son each have their own character whose progress is tracked individually. The customization and linear progression of the program, combined with the full-screen, 3-D graphics, and realistic "nature" sounds sets JumpStart World apart from other games, and the girls spend plenty of time simply exploring the varied topography. The software's web connection provides both new learning material and regular changes to the landscape to reflect real-world holidays and seasons. The girls were so excited to see that winter had arrived at Camp JumpStart--complete with snow, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. The website maintains a Parent Center, where parents can customize "rewards" for their child's progress and send messages to their kids which appear on billboards throughout the Camp (we're not big on rewards per se, so we haven't tried these features). Additionally, parents can sign up to receive e-mail updates on their child's progress.

The #1 downside of JumpStart World is probably cost. The starter kit is around $20 (though it does include a lot of material), and additional packs are around $8 apiece (you can subscribe and automatically download monthly). Also, my husband had a hard time installing the software on our computer (though we were thinking that maybe since we tested the product when it was brand new there were still a few bugs to be worked out). Finally, the progress reports were somewhat sporadic and didn't match up with what the girls were actually doing; for example, one said they were "missing all the fun and learning," when they in fact had been on JumpStart World the day before.

Overall, though, this is a great product. My guess is that JumpStart has since worked the installation bugs out, and other than the installation, the software has always run without issue. Also, an added benefit of JumpStart is that your child never needs to access the Internet at all. You just click on the JSWorld icon on the desktop, so there’s no need to worry about ads or anything like that.”

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Now, are you ready to rock JumpStart World? Here’s how to enter to win one of the 30 copies* we’re giving away:

  • Visit the JumpStart World collection and email contests@bostonmamas.com (with “JumpStart” in the subject), and name which JumpStart World product you want AND include your name and shipping address. *Rest assured we only will use this information to expedite shipping to the winners; otherwise, we never share personal information with outside parties!

  • One entry permitted per person; US and Canada entrants welcome.

  • Entry period closes tonight at midnight EST, Monday, January 28, 2007.

    *We'll draw 10 winners per each of the three JumpStart World product levels.


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