Thursday, December 6, 2007

Microsoft Student...Help Has Arrived!

I recently had the opportunity to review Microsoft Student and I was very pleased with what I found! I had heard about Microsoft Student before, but I figured that it wasn’t really worth the money since we could probably find everything we need online. I stand corrected because I now feel it is worth every single penny! If I had known about the different features and tools available, I would have bought this software a long time ago. Seriously folks, I think this is a great addition to any household who has school aged children.

Microsoft Student basically consists of four different sections: Encarta for Kids 2008, Encarta Dictionaries, Microsoft Math and Microsoft Student with Encarta Premium.

I first started digging into this software by going to the Encarta for Kids section. I loved the graphics and the easy to navigate tabs for the different sections. Instead of being pages that are filled with a ton of words about the subject, these pages are very kid friendly. The passages of information are short and manageable. Jake, my child who loathes to read, will have no problem whatsoever “making it through” these pages. In fact, I think the graphics will add so much more to his learning experience and I think that’s a definite plus! I also liked that there were “learning games” to play that reinforce what they have learned. Those games are always fun…and I love that the kids are learning without knowing it! Lol!! I like to feel sneaky sometimes, ya know?

Of course, since I have no idea where our actual bound dictionary is, I was excited to check out the Encarta Dictionaries. Not only can you look up words, but you can also access a thesaurus! All right there at the same spot…all you have to do is click the tabs at the top to navigate around. Again, super easy navigation here and that’s fantastic!

Now folks, I’ll have to be honest here. I didn’t really dive into the Microsoft Math section, but I think it will be a HUGE help in a couple of months when Nik starts his high school courses. There were sections on Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Trigonometry and more. I did also check out a section on fractions that I may have Jake work through. Over all, I felt that this section was aimed toward the older student and I am certainly going to be using it soon!

And I’ve saved the best for last! If you had the ability to be a fly on the wall at my house, lately you would have been hearing me complain about how I feel I lack the expertise to teach my children how to write research papers. I love to research and write, but when it comes to actually “teaching” that, I go blank! Really, it’s nuts, but I just fail in this area…and bad! When I opened up the Encarta Premium section and saw that there was an area for “Papers and Reports” I was ecstatic! I clicked on the link and went straight to an area that had options for all sorts of different papers: essays, book reports, science reports and more. I clicked on “essay reports” and was taken to a section where I could pick the type of essay I wanted to write! At this point, I had to stop and breathe! Can it be??? My help has arrived!! I also noticed that there were writing tutorials below these options. Really, it’s all here folks! I did have to download Learning Essentials to see the tutorials and, in all honesty, I haven’t seen those tutorials yet because I have a hard time following instructions and I have not installed it correctly which is my fault not the programs! Lol!

So, once I processed the fact that my help had arrived, I started looking at the other sections. There is an encyclopedia here too, but this one is more in-depth. Foreign Language, College and Career, Presentations and of course Math were the other areas listed. Nik, my one getting ready for high school, will be using this often….and I really think he won’t mind!

I really am glad that I got the opportunity to review this program and I really think our school will benefit from owning it. Over all, I think it is very easy to navigate and is very inviting. Microsoft Math seemed a tad bit daunting to me, but I’m not a math person at all so no one should expect me to get really excited about that anyway! Lol! Of course, my favorite part is the writing section in Encarta Premium! Completely cool program!!

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