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If you have children who watch any type of children’s programming, you have undoubtedly seen the advertising for ABCmouse. They seem to have a healthy advertising budget as I see the commercials on every channel and in various children’s magazines. But is ABCmouse all that the commercials claim? I was determined to find out with my own ABCmouse review.
My youngest daughter is in kindergarten this year. (Where does the time go?!) And while I know our school is quite aggressive in their educational pacing, I was growing frustrated by the number of “insufficient” and “C-” grades I was seeing on my daughter’s report.
For a long time, I thought all the children must be struggling. Then… the teacher accidentally sent home another student’s work. The papers were plastered with stars and stickers and “great!” It was enough to turn my stomach and make the competitor inside rise to the challenge.
As I shoved the unhealthy thoughts of pushing my child unnecessarily to see her rise above this stellar student’s performance, I did wonder if maybe she was not getting all the individualized attention she needed to excel academically. After all, I was very hands-on in teaching the older three children since we were homeschooling.
Cue the ABCmouse commercial. Perfectly timed. Perfectly placed.
I envisioned my kindergartener sitting on my lap or beside me on the couch as we worked through the ABCmouse lessons together. Perhaps we could use ABCmouse to bring her up to the school’s high standards? So we gave ABCmouse a try.
When you look around online for reviews about ABCmouse, it can be scary. Many reviews dated from 2012 through 2015 seems to be connected with a customer service issue:
We have unsuccessfully tried to contact them on several occasions. We have experienced unreasonable wait times — 30 to 45 minutes per call — before needing to hang up and return to our duties. We are very frustrated with their customer and tec (sic) service for the web-site. [2015: SOURCE]
Since I have never been a person to submit to the consensus, I decided to review ABCmouse for myself. But this isn’t “just another” ABCmouse review. I want to give you a balanced perspective, featuring the pros and cons of ABCmouse.
ABCmouse is an early learning software developed by Age of Learning, Inc. for the purpose of using technology to educate children through a full online curriculum.
The current program will benefit children ages 3 through 2nd grade with curriculum created by a board of teachers and educational experts from a variety of fields including science and history.
The scope of the online curriculum includes:
- Language development (vocabulary, listening skills, grammar)
- Reading (the alphabet, phonics, sight words, comprehension, genres, reading strategies)
- Math (numbers and operations, shapes, measurement, patterns,)
- Science and Technology (weather, plants and animals, matter and energy, space science, inventions)
- Social Studies (families and communities, geography and maps, U.S. history, states, famous Americans)
- Health (the human body, habits for health and safety, health care)
Each level and subject incorporates books, songs, games, puzzles, art activities, and printables to help children have a well-rounded experience with the information.
Since ABCmouse is a progressive curriculum, you can adjust what your child is learning based on their current knowledge.
For instance, the starting place ABCmouse cued for my kindergartener was way behind where she currently is placed in school. But, I was able to adjust her learning level to match her school curriculum.
How can I use ABCmouse best?
ABCmouse.com has a very flexible structure so parents can adapt the curriculum to meet their individual child’s needs.
Step-by-Step Learning Path
If you are looking for a pre-designed curriculum that will provide a comprehensive education, the Step-by-Step Learning Path by ABCmouse will guide your child through sequential lessons in reading, math, science, social studies, and health.
For the child who needs less structure or if you are using ABCmouse as a supplement for fun, Independent Learning (also called “Free Play”) allows the freedom to explore all portion of the website including the Classroom, Library, and Zoo.
Please note: Although the Guided Learning mode is mentioned on the website and “getting started” video, it is not available. I am not sure if it was available at one time and removed or what. Honestly, not having the Guided Learning mode makes me sad. I wanted to use the Lesson Builder mentioned in promotional materials to create our own plans by selecting activities with specific educational objectives. Boo!
How much does ABCmouse cost?
Although they frequently host special offers, ABCmouse.com subscriptions start at $7.95 a month. You can save on your subscription when you purchase a 6-month or 12-month plan.
Some people might wonder why you would pay for ABCmouse.com when there are so many free alternatives available. I see a frequent question about whether or not ABCmouse is worth the cost.
Consider this… ABCmouse is void of advertising and external links so a child can learn in a secure environment.
Many people do not realize that the alternatives pose a safety risk through invasive advertising, links to other websites, and in-ad purchases. That places your device one click away from being contaminated with a virus or directing your child to see something that could be traumatic. (It’s happen to me before! I clicked on a website link and was redirected to a porn website.)
Also, other online curriculums cover a single subject and cost $29 or more per year. Within ABCmouse, you get a comprehensive curriculum covering more than five different subjects. That is a tremendous value for the price.
Is ABCmouse available for tablets?
Since each of my children have a Kindle Fire tablet, it was important to me that ABCmouse be available for Kindle. Surprisingly, you can access ABCmouse from ANY device because they have apps available for iPhone, Android, Kindle, and desktop (through the internet).
My children don’t have to wait for a turn. They can each choose different learning activities on their tablets while seated side by side.
How many children can enroll on one ABCmouse account?
One of the benefits of ABCmouse is that you can register up to three children per account for no additional charge.
And if you are wondering how many children can access the account simultaneously… All of them! You can browse the parent section on one device while your three children are busy learning from their own tablets or computers.
Inside the Parent Section
If you are wondering how you track your children’s progress and activity within your ABCmouse account if they are using different devices, you will love the parent section.
In your settings, you can set curfews for the app, limit the amount of time your child uses the app, the learning level, and much more. You can even choose which holidays your family celebrates and the Classroom will decorate seasonally.
Because I totally skipped the introductory video and later had questions, I was relieved to find it stashed inside the parent section. On my search, I also discovered where to cancel and make adjustments to my account.
Our ABCmouse Review
I have two children currently using ABCmouse: a kindergartener and a 2nd grader. After a month of using ABC mouse, my children are still very engaged in the curriculum. It doesn’t hurt that they are greeted by name each time they login to play.
Will they stay interested? I’m not sure and that is why I chose to pay month to month.
Despite the abundance of games and activities, I know that if I am not guiding my children to use the app and explore new material, they will eventually become bored with the idea. Since the Guided Learning mode is gone, it will be much harder to make sure they are experiencing something new each time they play.
Educational Scope – ABCmouse.com hosts 10 levels, over 850 lessons, and 8,500 learning activities. The sequential system keeps children on level while guiding them through the progression without a ton of effort from the parent. The lessons seem to be close to the pacing guide for our local public schools but are several levels behind where our children are at private school using the Abeka curriculum.
Navigation – Despite having what appear to be a very simple interface, there is a TON on each page. At first, the amount of choices on the Classroom page was so overwhelming that I almost cancelled my subscription. But, when I handed the tablet to my 2nd grader, he had no trouble plundering through the different categories and finding MUCH to enjoy.
Tech – Each child has used ABCmouse.com from my computer and their own tablet. Not once have we had a problem with the applications loading, freezing, or crashing.
Billing – Since I am unsure whether my children will benefit from ABCmouse.com or stay engaged, I chose the monthly subscription and pay using PayPal. Since there were some negative reviews regarding billing, I felt confident that using PayPal was a secure option since I know how to cancel using the PayPal dashboard AND PayPal offers reimbursement should there be a billing issue once I cancel.
Customer Service – I struggled with finding how to set up the Guided Learning Mode mentioned in the “getting started” video and had to contact customer service through the parent portal. The page immediately said that my message was sent but I did not receive an email confirmation of a support request. Maybe I am spoiled by working online?
Also, I had to check back into my account to find their reply. I never received a notice by email or in the parent section that I had received a reply. I had to click to start a new message, click to see message history, and then open the message I had sent.
Final thoughts about ABCmouse.com
As I consider the tremendous value my children are receiving through ABCmouse, the negatives seem small.
- The price is a value considering you can add multiple children without paying additional fees and access a complete step-by-step curriculum.
- The user interface is free from advertising. No need to worry that children will accidentally download a nasty virus or see something they shouldn’t.
- You are not pestered by hidden in-app purchases. For one fee each month, you can access everything without limits.
- Lessons are bright, easy to understand, and engaging. The interactive books and games keep my children very involved. My youngest children love ABCmouse and the older children are jealous.
- ABC Mouse gives my youngest child the extra practice and skills she needs to stay on track at school. She loves the incentives and affirmations offered through the ABCmouse program and begs to play daily.
- I think the website would benefit from a more detailed customer service area so that parents can search for tutorials or links that would help them make the most of their ABCmouse membership. You receive a “getting started” video that briefly explains the website but that’s all.
- If you send a message to customer service, you will not receive any notifications when they reply. I can see where people would be angered, thinking that no one is responding to their message… especially if it was over a billing issue. The customer service center needs to updated to include easier access to message history.
- Since the Guided Learning Mode was mentioned frequently throughout the company’s home page, advertising materials, and “getting started” video, I knew it had to be there. I was stunned to be told that the feature was “not available.”
- Hopefully, they will add more levels soon. In his classroom at school, my 2nd grader has already surpassed the information stored at ABCmouse.com but still enjoys the “fun” aspect. My kindergartener is on level seven.
What do you think about ABCmouse?
Have you tried ABCmouse for your children? Have you seen the commercials? Have any questions about ABCmouse that I can answer? Just leave a comment! I would love to read your ABCmouse review.
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