'My Personal Tutor'


March 15, 1998

"My Personal Tutor," designed by the Microsoft Corp., is a set of four computer CDs aimed at children from preschool to first grade. The set costs $49.99. Susan Rapp, a reading specialist and director of Village Reading Center in Columbia, assesses it.

The Benefits:

* The commands are easy for young children to use and follow.

* The graphics and pictures are colorful and charming, not overwhelming.

* The music, settings and story lines appeal to preschool and primary-aged children.

* A variety of new activities captures a child's interest.

* The cost is reasonable.

* The skills are presented in small steps or units and reinforced when needed.

* Letters and words are easily viewed and accurately pronounced.

* The stories are clever, yet simple enough for a young child to follow and fun to hear over and over.

* Fun and helpful mental math skills.

* Teaches math in a manner that enables children to see the patterns in the number system.

* Supplemental progress reports and activity print expand the skills being presented.

* The vocabulary is challenging and enriching. It presents lots of rhyming and alliteration.

* Moves in a comfortable step-by-step format.

The Downside

* Takes up a lot of memory (8 MB of RAM, 16 MB recommended)

* The child may not be interacting correctly. He or she may say the sound or read the words incorrectly. It should be used along with the parent, not solely independently for teaching purposes.

* The progress reports are only useful if the parent follows up on the skills not mastered with the child.

* It presents reading in primarily a literature-based format.

Pub Date: 3/15/98

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