What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that subscribers have reported a very difficult cancelation process for this educational website for kids age 2 to 6 and companion app. In many cases parents who want to cancel can't reach a live person, cancel via email, and still receive a bill. However, the site -- created by the founder of NeoPets -- has been offered free to all public schools in the United States and Canada is easy enough for even the youngest computer users to play games and do activities that will help them begin the journey into reading and other kindergarten skills. There are no ads or external links. Families with a Web subscription can use their same account on the app, or you can sign up within the app. Each account can track up to three users
What's it about?
The educational ABCMouse website was designed for preschool through kindergarten kids. Parents set up an account for themselves and up to three kids, who learn about numbers, letters, and other basic concepts as they make their way through "learning paths" of varying difficulty. Kids get tickets for completing activities that can be used to buy virtual items like pets. A combination of voice-overs, images, and text guides kids through the site. The app features a virtual world with a classroom, zoo, farm, and map and activities.
Is it any good?
The ABCMouse site is easy to navigate, colorful, and encouraging -- and excellent way to introduce the youngest computer users to online learning. From the colorful kindergarten classroom homepage and learning zoo, to interactive books and songs, there are so many choices here that most pre-K children will be able to come back to this site and find something new to do and learn every time. Toddlers and first-time computer users will need help navigating the site, while navigation will be intuitive for kids who have already spent time on other popular pre-K sites. One of the most positive points here -- there are no ads directed at kids -- is somewhat dampened by the fact that learning here is rewarded by shopping, teaching a potentially unintended message.
The app content seems almost endless, and kids will discover solid new learning activities every time they play; but there's so much it's almost overwhelming. At every point of play, preschoolers are presented with multiple options: learning path, classroom, zoo, map, farm, songs, and featured activities. There are even more choices within each of those categories. Even the rewards are overwhelming, with options to buy items for your avatar, room, hamster, or aquarium, plus the option to count tickets earned that day by ones, twos, fives, or tens. The curriculum, though, is excellent, and there's a lot of bang for your buck. Parents also can customize kids' learning level, time allowed in-app, and more, creating a highly customized learning experience.
If you want to cancel your subscription, however, be prepared for a fight, as many parents report unresponsive customer service and bills received after cancellation.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why it's important to learn to read, to learn other school subjects, and to learn to use a computer safely and responsibly. Even the youngest children can understand that learning to read and learning to use a computer are skills that will help them grow up, and that parents are there to help them grow up smart, strong, and safe.
Discuss appropriate computer time limits with your child. Now is the time to set healthy habits; read Common Sense Media's Setting Computer Time Limits Tips.
What is your family's view on spending "virtual money" on a site like this? It can be difficult for a young child to understand that this isn't the same as buying something real from an online merchant. Does yours? Read Common Sense Media's Learning The Value of a Virtual Dollar.
|Subjects:||Language & Reading: following directions, letter or word recognition, naming, phonics, reading, reading comprehension, speaking |
Math: addition, counting, measurement, numbers, patterns, shapes, subtraction
Arts: drawing, music, rhythm
|Skills:||Thinking & Reasoning: solving puzzles |
Self-Direction: academic development, work to achieve goals
|Topics:||Numbers and letters|
|Pricing structure:||Free to Try, Paid (The site has a free 30-day trial; subscriptions are $7.95 a month or $79.99 a year.)|