I'm an elementary school teacher and my child is 3.5. although i consider myself a great teacher, i have very little energy (patience) to put into learning for my OWN CHILD! at the end of the day my daughter and i want to play, not teach/learn and this tool is the PERFECT MIX. we've had this for 4 weeks and my daughter uses it about an hour EVERY DAY (her own limit). in just 4 short weeks, she can effectively use both the stylus as well as now a real pencil -she learned to write many of her letters already, which she could not do at all before. i was not able to get her to concentrate on old fashioned pen and paper, or even magna doodle before this! despite other reviews, NOT all of the games are the "same stuff just with different characters". we have 3 extra games which target different "skills/subjects" that ALL have some educational value, if only teaching creativity or fine motor skills. the basic program with LEO the leopard is very nice and kept my daughter busy for several weeks before we broke down and got the extra games. (we couldn't find the games in stores OR online so we actually downloaded them from net. however, i have since then purchased games and since she is still young i will likely buy them all eventually) despite other reviews that this product is not intended for children @ 3 "just because they can't swallow it"--i remind everyone that toddlers get frustrated with EVERYTHING that they do for the first time, or longer! this toy is the BEST thing we have gotten for any child, and i have been teaching for almost 2 decades. your child WILL grow into it if your expectations are such. in fact, its better to start younger with this toy given its potential expense. things to think about when buying:
the older your child is, the more games you will need. @3 they can be happy with just LEO. i'm assuming that closer to 4 they will definitely need lots of games so this should be considered when thinking about the value of the toy. do you have a SPARE computer (better, a laptop) to run this on? each member of MY family needs their own computer due to the demands of school/work (not to mention pleasure and communication needs) and since my 3 year old learns MUCH more on this keyboard than on educational / public television i prefer the third computer to a second television in my home. i can't see this keyboard as being very helpful without it's own computer unless parents are very limited to their online times or computer work from home. similarly--think about where you are going to put this for a 3 year old: my own desk is too large for my 3 year old to use so i've had to set up an odd and ergonomically inefficient system in my study. as she grows bigger i'm not sure if the space i've rigged will be good for her posture, or for my work-from home habits as i need my own desk. having a laptop set up at the kitchen table or even a desk is rather time consuming or to do for an hour of computer time. also--make sure you buy the games WHEN they are available, and for the APPROPRIATE age level. they are hard to find at times and when your child see's all of the characters at the start-up it DOES disappoint/confuse them when they can't click on those characters which essentially log them into the alternately purchased CD games. something worth mentioning is that i actually have not figured out how to run this keyboard (navigating to what's inside of the games, specifically)...but my 3 year old HAS! for a week or two it was frustrating for both of us because i did not have the time to walk her through each aspect, but we QUICKLY made the agreement--if she screamed or banged on the machine, it got turned off for a while. she learned REALLY QUICKLY that being patient was worth it, and she knows how to run EVERY program and detail on this equipment now. i gave the value a perfect 5 but as my child grows--the value lessens SIGNIFICANTLY as the system is quite expensive when considering the need for spare computer, extra games, toddler-appropriate work space and the longevity of using this toy. i would NOT recommend buying for children closer to age 4.5/5. although it would be a GREAT tool for them until 5 or 6, the expense would lead me to alternatively recommend their own computer. the sole purpose of this keyboard is to protect a parent's computer, and provide large colorful version of programs suitable for toddlers. given that, it meets ALL expectations completely for the ages between 3 and 5.
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