Educating the Military Brat

We move a lot.  It's what we do.

For the military brat, that means lots of new schools, lots of mid-school year upheaval, and lots of getting used to new curriculum and catch up or slow down.

When we can find a tool to help give our children some continuity in their educational experience, it can make our lives a lot easier and more pleasant.

For our family, the right answer was homeschooling. I taught in both public and Catholic schools before we made this decision, and it has been the right one for us. It doesn't change the fact that I'm still always looking for ways to help my children learn more, learn more easily, and give Mom and Dad some break time.

Recently, several SpouseBUZZ authors were given the opportunity to try some new software for children. The brand - Jump Start - is one that is well known among parents for engaging educational software. I already use a third grade program in their line for my evil blond child to play and a kindergarten supplement for my son, who is four and a half. It is a brand name I trust to have engaging software that my kids enjoy playing, while sneaking some learning in behind their backs.

I got to try the Jump Start World Kindergarten program with my son, who is currently homeschooling kindergarten. Let me say that the program is EXTREMELY well thought out. Not only does it offer great programs that seem almost especially geared toward things little boys love to do (there is one alphabet sequence that involves shooting alphabet pies out of a a clown car), but in the two days my son has had access to the program, he has broken through a learning wall in alphabet sounds that had me ready to scream until my lungs shot through my teeth. The program also offers emailed updates to parents, something which can definitely help the military family keep track of what their child knows throughout numerous moves. It is also something that can be a huge help in keeping Dad or Mom updated on a child's schooling while they are deployed - it can be a connection for them and a place to start talking. And we are always looking for good deployment connectors.

My son has to be pried from the computer when his time playing the learning games is up. And he is learning - and learning at a pace higher than he was with book work alone. And the price is only $19.99 for the first two adventures. If your child doesn't learn well with this method, or doesn't like the games, you do not have to purchase more. The value for the amount of program is incredible.

There are, though, a few things I don't like about the software. One is that it can only be used on computers with a broadband connection. This means that my son can only play on my laptop, as the computer our children use is not connected to the internet. So, if I am unable to access and post on SpouseBUZZ because my son does something goofy to my computer while I'm in the bathroom, it's because I could not put him on the "kid" computer. Further, that means that he can't play these games when we travel, which is one of the times we make the most use of kid-computer games. That hotel time can be tough for them - a good travel game for my kids can save my sanity.

The other issue I had with the software was the sheer amount of information it asked for at registration - and you have to register to use it. Perhaps it is because my husband's military career involves getting information from people. Perhaps it's because I once had my identity stolen. I do NOT like giving so much as my address out online. The program will not work without that, though. And however secure it is, it makes me very uneasy.

Bottom line on this product? If the internet access and privacy issues aren't a concern for you, this is probably the best computer based learning program I've seen so far in our parenting "career". It works, they love it, and it's at least $40 cheaper than comparable products I've seen for learning. It has the great potential to give military brats a modicum of stability in learning that their unstable lifestyle doesn't usually afford them. If there were a way around the internet access issue, I would make it a point to buy this program for all my children.

I would love to hear from anyone else who has tried this product, or this company. What did you think?

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