Friday, April 27, 2007

Habla español?

Knowing a second language is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury these days, so when the lovely folks over at the Parent Bloggers Network put out a call for reviewers for the Boca Beth program, my hand shot into the air. Their program aims to teach children English and Spanish starting at birth and continuing through grade school. The program employs several different tools to help engage children across the age group, from coloring books and puppets to cds and dvds.

A few weeks later we received a package containing a cd, a dvd called I Like Animals/Me Gustan Animales, a Boca puppet, a coloring book and a maraca. Right away I noticed the big sticker declaring the program the winner of the Teachers' Choice Award for 2007. I was impressed.

We always play music in Sam's room, so the next time we were in there I popped in 'My First Songs In Spanish'. At first, I was underwhelmed. The recording was a little muddy, like your freshman roommate's demo tape that was recorded in your dorm room. Since I don't know Spanish, I found this to be a major issue because I couldn't understand what they were saying during the non-English portions of the songs. While lyrics aren't provided with the cd, they are available on the web page, but it took me almost two weeks to look them up. However, the songs were catchy. I found myself singing 'Kiss, kiss is a beso!' to the tune of 'Skip To My Lou' on more than one occasion.

The dvd program helped to make up for my disappointment with the cd. Sam loves watching it, and I love that the words being spoken appear on the screen so I don't feel like an idiot. The musical numbers always get his little bum shaking, and when I pull out the maraca for him during the songs he squeals. There is a sequence at the end that captures an entire Boca Beth class. We haven't had the patience to sit through this entire portion yet, but when split into two viewings we can usually make it through.

Sam loves playing with the maraca, but the puppet and coloring book haven't really caught his attention as of yet. He's still learning the ins and outs of crayons, so when presented with the book he simply tried to rip it to shreds. One very useful tool for parents, though, is the short glossary/pronunciation guide in the back of the coloring book. Every time I try and use the puppet, he thinks I'm playing peek-a-boo with my hand and pulls it off. Since he's only 14 months, though, I'll keep trying as he gets older. The program is labeled for birth to grade school, so I wasn't expecting him to love every single thing right off the bat.

The big question is: does it work? Well, folks, I'm sorry to tell you that you may have to wait awhile for the answer. The only words we get, grudgingly, from Sam are mama, dada and no. Check back with me in a few more months and maybe I can give you some more information. What I do know, though, is that my baby enjoys these educational programs, which helps in more ways than one. First of all, I don't feel as guilty parking him in front of the TV because I know he's potentially learning something while I pee. Secondly, I don't get as pissed at daddy when he has the this video on TV on all morning instead of Star Trek, which was their usual fare, when it's his day to get up with the boy. I doubt that Captain Kirk can impart as much knowledge to my boy as Boca Beth. Now that I've instructed him to watch I Like Animals/Me Gustan Animales with Sam in the mornings, I can sleep peacefully.

If you are interested in buying some Boca Beth products, click over to the Baby Center Store where they are currently running a big sale on Boca Beth products. Even better? Visit the Parent Bloggers Network page to win yourself a Boca Beth prize package valued at $45! Free stuff! What could be better?

There's no need to thank me. I'll just say 'de nada.'

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