Microsoft goes kindergarten

I just visited a german kindergarten that has a concept to educate young children in computer skills.
On the one hand I was very happy to see how both, boys and girls, learn how to work with computers and are tutored by women (which is good for the gender aspect). On the other hand I watched these children work with Microsoft software and being instructed how to work with Windows.
Sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Families and in cooperation with the Cornelsen Verlag, a big publishing house for schoolbooks, Microsoft places its software called Schlaumäuse directly into german kindergartens.
The kindergarten teachers are very happy about this program because it really gives them a good peace of software that they can easily work with. (I have to confess: in comparison to other Microsoft products it is really good.) The program comes for free (only for kindergartens, of course) with a good manual and a monthly magazine and there is also merch available like stickers and stuffed animals.
It is good work of advertisement and it is no wonder, that kindergarten teachers appreciate the offer. Especially since they are not aware, that there are already free alternatives available.
Still the Schlaumäuse are quite good work. They are orientated towards linguistic support and autonomy without overburdening the children. A lot of different games have been put together in one environment and if you earned enough cheese-points within the learning-games your award is to play the most fun game (basically an easier version of pacman).
The kindergarten teacher I spoke to was very pleased with the program. But she was also very interested in Free Software and in my objection that this is very early advertisement on the most subtle level. Still I was not able to recommend her an equivalent free alternative.
I’ve already tried some software like Kturtle and Sugar and other small applications but non of those offered such a fully-fledged learning platform like Schlaumäuse.
We definitely need something that offers a full learning platform and comes with a good handbook and leaflets etc.
Otherwise Microsoft will succeed advertising its products in the very early years of our children.
Our challenge is now to compete with this and to bring our alternative to the kindergartens and primary schools.
I would do the latter, who is in for the first?


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