Thursday, 13 October 2011
Review of Ben & Betty all-in-one learning programme for young children
I was intrigued to see how Little Miss Sunshine would react to the Ben & Betty demonstration disc we were sent to review. She is only a couple of months off her 4th birthday but as a second child she inevitably has not had the same attention from me as daughter no1, so I have spent virtually no time attempting to teach her anything about reading or writing. She attends the excellent village nursery school where they do some of this and generally I think that is enough until she goes to school. She does however love books and recognises the funny squiggles on the page are the words that I am reading and has recently started to be interested in letters as she wanted to know the letters of her name. This was also almost the first time she had ever used a mouse or computer - she does use the iPad occasionally but that is very different.
She was quite excited and happy to sit on Mummy's lap whilst we tried out the games. She wasn't really interested in sounding out the letters but I imagine that might come with time. She did enjoy the games and they were good for her manual dexterity and learning to use the computer but I'm not entirely sure she got the link to the letters. However having said that she later correctly identified the letter C, completely unprompted when looking at something else so she may have taken more on board than I thought!
She particularly enjoyed the odd one out game although I did have to help her with the mouse to get the cursor in the right place but as she had never used a mouse before this wasn't as surprise. She was a bit disappointed that more of the games did not involve Betty but Ben (she's very girly!!) but I am sure if you buy the whole pack this would be evened out!
I like the fact that the programme is simple to use and split into small bite size chunks that don't take up much time and I think if you are wanting to teach your pre-schooler more about writing or reading it would be an excellent programme at a fairly reasonable price of £29.95.
However, I don't think I will be going on to buy one as I am not sure that teaching this before school is strictly necessary and although it would not take very long each day there are some days when we just don't have the time. I think for my purposes the free games that you get on websites like Cbeebies (some of which are very educational) are enough for the very infrequent occasions that my children use the computer. I also felt that compared to the games that you get on the iPad (which the girls are used to), it did look a little dated but I guess this wouldn't worry small children.
As well as the disc with games you also get workbooks in your package and our sample included some work sheets. Little Miss Sunshine enjoyed doing the colouring in and following some lines but wasn't especially interested. I think her big sister would have liked it at this age but little sister is,to be honest, more interested in playing - she has a fantastic imagination and uses it to great effect so I think I should let her play while she can. School will come soon enough. I do think that Ben & Betty would be a great resource for nurseries and pre-schools and even for reception children though and if you are keen for your kids to get ahead and learn their letters then it would be a good resource to purchase. You can find out more from Ben & Betty here.
I received a free demo disc of Ben & Betty via Blog-match but have had no other payment or goods for this review.