Thursday, March 10, 2011

NickJr. Boost

I was recently given the opportunity to participate in a 3 month trial of NickJr. Boost with I have two children, ages 6 and 4 who both love NickJr and we were excited to have this opportunity. I will admit that I had some skepticism at first. My kids play on the NickJr site a lot and I wondered if a pay version would be worth it. However, after 3 months my kids were asking for more and that says a lot.

Boost is set up like a room. Each child gets his or her own room that he or she gets to decorate how they like best and everything is easily accessible to them. Videos are accessed by clicking on a tv, games by clicking on an arcade machine, etc. The games and videos are also tailored to your child’s education level, having the choice between pre-K, kindergarten and first grade. So, while my children both had access to the same games, my son’s games were more complex than my daughters to suit each of their educational needs.

Another fun feature is that children are rewarded for progress with printable badges and marbles. The marbles can be spent to purchase virtual toys for them to play with. My children get so excited when they get marbles to spend or a new badge when they learn a new skill.

What really sets Boost apart for me is the ability to track your child’s progress. This feature shows you exactly what areas they have been working on. You can see what games they have played and what subject matter those games focus on. This is accompanied by a pie chart to show you what percentage of their online time was spent on certain areas of learning. When you go to those specific areas, it breaks it down even further for you within the subject area. This can help you steer them towards games and activates that will help boost areas they need the most.

As a mother and former preschool teacher I am a strong believer in positive reinforcement and learning through play both at home and in the classroom. I really loved that Boost uses this method to help kids learn and have fun and feel good about their accomplishments. My son’s teacher told us during his progress meeting what areas he was weakest in and I was able to use Boost as a tool to assist him in those areas and monitor his progress.

There were very few negative points in my opinion. Overall it is a great program. I do wish there was some way to turn off the introduction, you can press skip on all the stuff that explains Boost to you but really there is no need to have it on there at all after the first use. In the beginning it seemed like there could be more variety but as you get going you realize there is just enough and my kids really enjoyed it.

Any program that can improve the ability of my children to learn and also enjoy learning is fantastic in my book. I would definitely recommend Boost to caregivers of young children.

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