Which educational software is right for YOUR child(ren)?
I am asked this question often, and the answers vary according to each child.
In order for an experienced educational software retailer to be able to give you advice, they need to take a few things into consideration.
1. The age of the child. Different manufacturers band ages together in their own ways. One band may be 3-5 and the other may be 4-8 - both are suitable for a 4 year old, but one will be easier & one harder unless the game has different levels.
2. The sex of the child. It is well-known to parents that girls & boys have different likes & dislikes. There is some common ground, but you'd be hard-pressed to get a boy to play with a Strawberry Shortcake game, or a girl to play a Tonka Truck game for example, & really enjoy it.
3. Subject. Are you just after problem-solving, maths or reading software, or would you prefer multiple subjects? There is some excellent software that is grade-based and covers maths, reading/spelling/grammar/vocabulary as well as science. The DK Smart Steps series is a good example of this. Full of content, it's not very game-like, more like a set of tutorials. I think they're fabulous but my ADHD/Asperger's son thinks they're boring & won't touch them. He needs to shoot stuff or do programs like the I Spy series. Children with learning difficulties need their attention held, so it's got to be bright & exciting or they lose interest - the JumpStart series is much more suitable for them.
Most software retailers carry too much variety, and some of them don't even have children to test games for them. They would find it very difficult to advise parents on which software is right for their child. Choose someone who specialises and only sells children's games. They will know their stock better and should be able to offer advice, or steer you to someone who does.
I chose to specialise in children's educational software and computer games after my son really took to them at a very young age & I started to research titles for him. James was playing Disney Interactive titles such as Pooh Preschool at 18 months, and had played Reader Rabbit Baby & Toddler with me since he was about 12 months old. My daughter, who is now 2 1/2, could care less about computers at the moment. She would rather play pretend school or shopping with her dolls & teddy bears. She will be interested later, that's just the way she is.
Every child's needs and interests are different, and so they need an individual approach. If your retailer isn't prepare to devote the time to help you with that, they're probably not worth dealing with. There are plenty of us out there who will!