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Category: Education

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      08.06.2010 18:43
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      The single best investment I have ever made for my children's academic success.

      Jumpstart World is an educational software programme aimed at children ages 3-10. There is a significant amount of content available free, or you try the 14 day free trial as we did. I will warn you though, if you take the free trial you will be stuck paying for membership as the children will be desperate to keep it. Payment is monthly, yearly or a lifetime membership which cost me around £100. Now I know that sounds like a fortune, but certainly beats £7 a month forever, and wait until you hear what you get with membership.

      One membership covers the whole family, up to six children. I'm sure they have arrangements for more then six, but not sure what they are.
      Membership gives you unlimited access to Jumpstart World as well as 4 separate down loadable 3d virtual worlds set up for different age groups. They are as follows:
      My First Adventure for ages 3-5
      The Legend of Grizzly McGuffin, ages 4-6
      Trouble in Town ages 5-7
      The Quest for the Colour Meister ages 6-8

      All of the four down loadable worlds, and the main Jumpstart World feature the characters from previous Knowledge Adventure games, Jumpstart in the USA or Jump Ahead in the UK. They are:
      Frankie - a lovable dog and team leader.
      CJ - The frog explorer
      Eleanor the book loving elephant
      Hops the scientist/ rabbit
      Kisha the artistic cheetah
      Pierre the musical panda

      Jumptart World is a huge virtual world with Storybook Land to cater to the youngest members, Adventure Island, Marine Land, Dragon Sanctuary ( where you raise and train dragons), Science Land, Future Land and a number of changing activities on Main Street. You design your own character, who must be named from the list of available names, and buy clothes, accessories, pets, and rides for your jumpee using coins earned in learning games. The learning games are designed for a wide range of ages 3-10 and keep being expanded. They are also genuinely fun to play.

      Your child starts out by creating their Jumpee - something like a mii on wii games. They customise their character and give it a name from the list of names ( they can not use their own). They can later buy clothes heads, eyes, and other accessories to completely change their look. Jumpstart coins are earned by successfully completing various learning games. Your child can also buy pets, vehicles, and all sorts of accessories for their houses.

      They can then choose to take on a mission on adventure Island, which involves following instructions and playing many learning games to solve the problem of the marauding punk punks. This plays very much like a separate computer game, and I believe took my son about 2 months to complete. Or they could go straight to Marine land and complete the missions there to earn a swim tail ( like a mermaids tail), again this took and additional few months to complete for my son who was 5 at the time.

      The first down loadable game, My First Adventure, is quite simple as one would expect given the age range. The children play basic learning games, learning the alphabet, numbers, counting, phonics, shapes and colours. As they complete various learning tasks they earn pieces of books and can listen to each book when it is complete. The other games take place in Camp Jumpstart and the children earn badges, or something similar, like keys on the big awards board as they complete quests and learning activities, unlocking more lands and activities as they progress. These games also include a weekly report card or progress sheet for parents and each level covers a full years curriculum. My youngest especially enjoys racing the firetruck or submarine around in this game, as well as the large collection of virtual slides.

      The programme has been invaluable for us. Living in Northern Ireland, we are forced to have our children start P1 at age 4. I personally find this too young for a child to be sitting at books all day, but Jumpstart World has given us an easy way for him to progress far beyond requirements while having fun. He has learned to read, addition and subtraction, counting and number value to thousands, fractions etc... and all the while thinking he is playing a great game. I honestly feel my son has learned even more from this programme then he would have had we been able to afford a private school, and the school board was well impressed by his progress. As a home educator, I cant imagine being without it, but also strongly recommend it for any parent who just wants to help a child get ahead academically.

      UPDATE:
      After having had this programme for 19 months now, we still find something new every time. The site has continued to grow and now includes free membership to Mathsblaster.com as well. This is a brilliant programme where children play space themed video games which require very quickly answering mathematical problems as they go. Subjects and difficulty level can be selected, so my 6 year old is working on speed for addition and subtraction, but older children would be doing multiplication, division and more.
      New lands are added on a regular basis and the programme really does not ever grow old.

      Another new addition the children have enjoyed is Windy Hollows, a spooky land where the children mix charms by measuring the correct amounts of each ingredient, and then turn other Jumpees into things like frogs, rabbits, pumpkins or even a walking hamburger. They also enjoy building their own boat tracks to race boats on, going on scavenger hunts, and just exploring the ever expanding site.

      My youngest son at two though is now the biggest user of this game. he absolutely loves it and would play all if I let him. he has learned colours, counting, shapes, sorting, following directions and is starting to learn his letters and letter sounds as well. You can adopt virtual pets, raise a dragon or winged horse, explore the new spooky Windy Hollows and so much more. My six year continues to use this as well, and is still working on completion of the last down loadable game. He quite likes the charm section, which teaches measurements, but his favourite is certainly Mathblaster at the moment.

      I am very happy that I chose the lifetime membership because I would have ended up paying well over that in monthly fees by now, as I would certainly choose to continue membership considering the amount of use my children have had from this programme, and expect I would continue to do so for at least another 5-6 years. Although I initially thought this a bit expensive, because I had to splash out so much at once, i really think I got a bargain now. I would have felt £20 -£25 pounds each very fair for just the downloadbale games, and for a programme that still averages at least an hour a day between the children, after such a long time period, I am very well pleased with my purchase.

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