What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that ABCMouse.com is a subscription-based educational website for kids age 2 to 6. This site 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. Kids earn points when they play games or complete an activity, which they can "spend" at a pretend online store. There are no ads or external links. The site, created by the founder of NeoPets, has been offered free to all public schools in the United States and Canada. Note that many users report a very difficult cancelation process: In many cases parents who want to cancel can't reach a live person, cancel via email, and still receive a bill.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- following directions
- letter or word recognition
- reading comprehension
Thinking & Reasoning
- solving puzzles
- academic development
- work to achieve goals
Engagement, Approach, Support
The colorful kindergarten-classroom home page, the learning zoo, and the interactive books and songs will appeal to young users. Most kids in the pre-K set will be able to find something new here every time they visit.
Kids make their way along various learning paths, either preset or customized. Whether doing puzzles, playing games, or listening to songs, learning content is clear and covers a wide variety of topics.
Kids will likely need help navigating the site, which includes video clips to help teachers orient themselves. The activities could offer more help for kids who are having trouble. Printables offer offline extensions.
What's it about?
ABCMouse is an educational website designed for preschool through kindergarten kids that costs $7.95 per month. 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. After completing each activity, kids are rewarded with tickets that can be used to buy virtual items like pets or avatar upgrades. A combination of voice-overs, images, and text guides kids through the site.
Is it any good?
ABCMouse -- an easy to navigate, colorful, encouraging site -- is an 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.
Online interaction: Appropriately for this age, there is no direct online interaction with other kids. Contests are held for online coloring pages so kids can see other kids' work on the site. Note that many users report a very difficult cancelation process: In many cases parents who want to cancel can't reach a live person, cancel via email, and still receive a bill.
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.