The two-pronged nature of educational software can make it difficult for parents without much experience in the market to know where to look and what to buy. Keeping these tips in mind may help ease the decision ...
* Know your child's educational limits. You certainly don't want to perplex your six year old with a copy of Capitalism, and Math Blasters may not be the right choice for your college-bound son's 18th birthday.
* Be certain the educational aspects outweigh the gaming aspects. There are certainly things to learn from video games not intended for educational use, but the negative consequences of having your child hooked on a game with minimal educational content outweigh the positives.
* Monitor your kids activity on the computer, either directly or via a log. All it takes to put a young mind in danger is a high-speed Internet connection and a little curiosity.
* Know what your kid needs to learn. There are games catering to virtually every topic under the educational sun. Many games are specifically geared towards school curriculum or national aptitude standards. There are also games that are less directly pointed at any specific academic subjects that still have strong educational value and focus more on the complete gaming experience. You may even find yourself hooked on some of these titles.
There are educational games geared to every educational software from children's literacy to grown-up economics. The educational gaming market offers familiar and friendly faces like Mario and Mickey Mouse to help get your kids' excited about learning. The Mia series and the Ollo games have built franchises around complex storylines that contain loads of educational content. For teenagers, more formal presentation is available, but more successful than that are subversive games that teach kids without them even knowing it. Some simulation games accomplish this goal nicely. Don't be surprised if after a few shots at Civilization IV you find your 15-year olds desk neatly organized and books about maritime warfare around the house.
Certain developers felt that the specifications and design of computers were too limiting and have since designed home consoles catering specifically to educational programs and software. The machines are designed specifically for use by children and often abandon the traditional mouse/keyboard input setup in favor of more interactive interfaces. These consoles also have their own games. Though educational consoles have limited capabilities, some parents swear by their results.
An alternative to game consoles, educational dvds are the classic way of teaching your children a multitude of vital life skills from math to verbal to science to music. Just by simply popping in the dvd, the child is immediately transported to a magical classroom where learning is part of the entertainment.