Let’s talk about something that has really been on my mind. I am a lucky father of 4 children, two of them still being at home with me. These two children both have the same unlucky problem of their birthday being after the cutoff date for beginning kindergarten on time. They will be the 6 year old kindergartners and be a year behind to begin with. As I was watching my 5 year old mull around the house bored because his sisters are at school and he wants to be I tried to find the answer.
I would send them to pre-school but if anyone reading this is a parent you know that the cost of daycare or pre-school is outrageous and sorry, I am not a rich man. I had to find out, what was the one thing that I can keep them both interested in here at the house, that won’t kill me financially, and will help them tremendously? We tried the TV programming restrictions, there’s only so many blues clues they will watch before they blow that off, trust me. Diego and Dora have their value but knowing how to call a map out of Dora’s backpack won’t help in school years. After about 2 months of solid ED TV they got bored with that and went back to banging power rangers around the house and not learning a thing other than new ways to have an action figure do a karate kick.
I kept thinking that there had to be something and it was funny because it had been in front of me the whole time. By a show of hands, how many of you remember the TV commercials around Christmas about the parents telling the children that they can’t go to bed until they play their video games? Being from the video game generation I play them quite a bit. I never really thought about it, I just play them to have fun and pass time but I really sat back and thought about it. Over the last 4 years all of the children have maintained a constant unwaivering interest in one thing. They want to play my video games. I started thinking about it and decided to check it out.
We went to the toy store and decided to check out the V-Tech V-Smile and the alphabet park game. I mention this by name not as an advertisement but call it a recommendation. We have been shocked. They were never prouder than to have their own video game system. They had broken 2 of my game systems prior to this so they were no longer aloud to even touch it without permission, but we put this one to the test and made the V-Tech their own. Here is what I saw happen. First, the children learned about sharing. With 4 of them this was an important one, they worked it out all on their own though, good start huh? Next I noticed the design of the system. Runs on batteries, no plugs, no shocks, my 2 year old can do it. Yep you heard it my 2 year old. The system itself gets the durability rating of 10.5 from me anyway. These kids have really put this thing through the rugged trials of children and it is still ticking without a crack in it. Battery life was another one but hey, 8 AA batteries per year I can do.
I think you get the point that I am impressed with the system as far as its’ quality. Let’s get bigger, value, how much does it contribute really? So we have this game that they are locked into that is supposed to help and guess what yep you guessed it it does. I have owned it for 6 months now in this time my 5 year old who I couldn’t get to say a letter to save his skin can now read every sign we pass. See, these games are designed to make you learn in a fun way with enough chances to make it possible to learn but if you lose it’s not hopeless. I have seen 2 types of learning games prior to this. The first was a Barney style game, where you couldn’t lose because if you didn’t make it the computer took over and did it for you and then told you how smart you were. I am sorry but to me that is a little misleading, I mean they didn’t do it for goodness sake. Then there were the games that were one life to live. If you didn’t get it right the first time give up and move on. Well, we can hope they get back to that one before they get bored with being wrong is my opinion on that. So where is the balance? I think V-Tech put some real time in on this question. The games are simple enough and speak to the child so that anyone ( including my 2 year old ) can listen to the game and play.
I could run on all day about this system and never really say everything about it just because even the one game I am referring to has Colors, Shapes, Spelling, Reflex, Decision Making, Math, and other attributes that will keep a child actively learning for quite some time. But to end it all with one description all I can say is. Six months ago I had bored rerun watching disinterested children. Now I have a 5 year old that reads and loves to play teacher to his sister, and a 2 year old that can count to 20, say her alphabet, and identify half of the letters on sight. All of this in less than half a year and from something that all inclusive cost me under $40. Just something to think about. Until next time…..Thanks for reading