One of the most stressful aspects of child-rearing is how to determine if their academic development is adequate. Learning websites for kids are a relatively new tool to assist with that. It’s hard to say exactly when they became regarded as a legitimate academic resource. However, today there’s no question about their validity and effectiveness as a pedagogical tool.
ABCmouse.com is one of the better-known educational sites aimed at children. If you’re reading this, it’s likely that their advertising reached you in some way and left you wondering if what they claim is true. In this article, you will find a thorough assessment of ABCmouse to help you decide whether it’s the right fit for your child.
The Basics and Some Evaluation Criteria
The first thing you need to know is that ABCmouse is not an accredited school. Rather, it’s a supplemental resource for parents and teachers alike. It is a subscription-based service in full compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. There are no pop-ups or ads to distract your child and the site will never ask for additional payments or upgrades. The service is tied to an app which offers the same activities as the site.
Now, when attempting to evaluate a learning service, there are a few methods that can be applied. This article will aim to aggregate user reviews and anecdotal evidence as applied to the criteria set forth by Kelli Boklaschuk and Kevin Caisse from the University of Saskatchewan. Parts of a developmental scale for children’s websites established by Dr. Fathi Ihmeideh from The Hashemite University will also form a basis for the review.
ABCmouse is designed for kids ranging in age from toddlers to second graders. There are ten learning levels that increase the complexity of the tasks but all the material is age-appropriate and accessible. The child’s current academic level is taken into account when creating learning games. The ability to increase or decrease the learning level will keep most kids engaged within the targeted age-range.
The activities are fairly well designed to capture children’s attention. However, there do seem to be some issues with longevity. Many kids get bored with the website faster than anticipated. It would be prudent to maintain a month-to-month subscription rather than pay for one of their package deals.
As far as the service’s trustworthiness goes, they have invested a substantial amount of time and resources into creating legitimate authorship. Their core curriculum board is fully disclosed and includes nationally recognized experts in the field of early childhood education.
Age of Learning, the parent company, provides information about the website’s content on request. The entire program development process is also available on their website. Overall, the credentials and expertise of the creators are readily evident and adequate.
ABCmouse is replete with learning material, with over 9000 activities and 850 lessons, and counting. The curriculum is roughly split into sections pertaining to language, natural sciences, mathematics, and the arts. There is a wide variety of lesson types and games which will help keep children engaged.
The site also has an incentive program through which children can earn currency to spend on their “virtual room.” Some parents have found that activities occasionally become more about the incentives than actual learning. Close supervision is advised to make sure your child’s time is being used productively.
Navigation and Accessibility
The vast majority of children will find the site intuitive and easy to navigate. Complaints about dead links or malfunctions are extremely rare.
The art direction of the site is very cohesive. Reliable visual cues make it easy for kids to know where they are on the site and where to go next. Furthermore, there is a step-by-step “learning path” that children can follow at their own pace, making the entire experience very natural.
The most salient barrier to accessibility is the paid nature of the service. You cannot access any of the activities without a paid account, but up to three children can be registered on a single account.
The site is designed to be as unobjectionable as possible in terms of respecting different cultures. For many parents, this will be a keystone aspect of their children’s education. If there was one complaint that seemed to recur in the data, it’s that the site is a little too unstructured. While most parents want their kids to have some degree of autonomy, they also like to know there’s some sort of order being conveyed.
ABCmouse is clearly designed for children. Colorful illustrations make it visually stimulating and engaging. The staff includes professional musicians and they have an in-house recording studio to provide classic children’s songs and original audio material. They boast many celebrated children’s artists, illustrating their online storybooks. No real complaints stood out about how the site looks and feels.
Roundup and Closing Thoughts
If you’re looking for an educational site and app for your children, you could do much worse than ABCmouse. The service is very professionally designed by people who are serious about what they offer. The only big caveat is that their cancellation policies can be a little draconic, so you’d be well advised to take advantage of their 30-day trial offer.
On a broader note about educational resources, parents should be wary about screen use for their children. Screen dependency disorders are being identified in kids and neurological morphisms that they create are not very well understood, so make sure your kid’s time at the screen is monitored.
If you have used similar resources before, please share your recommendations (as well as any disappointments) in the comment section below.