Bethany Braun-Silva is the editor of Parenting.com, a one-stop shop for parents and caregivers to learn, research, discover and purchase products related to their parenting journey.
Like many parents, as soon as my kids’ schools were closed due to COVID-19, I was in a panic about how I was not only going to keep them busy and entertained at home, but also how I was going to teach them.
Even with remote learning in place and educational websites, I knew my children would not be absorbing all they would normally if they were in school with their regular teachers and learning resources. We needed something to supplement their homeschooling, and fast. That’s when I turned to ABCmouse, a subscription-based service that costs $9.95 per month.
ABCmouse is an educational website with a correlating app for kids ages 2-8. Upon signing up, my 4-year-old was first prompted to pick an avatar for himself, which he had a lot of fun creating, then he was asked to pick an avatar for his teacher, which he also thoroughly enjoyed.
Next came the learning, which is what I was more concerned about. Exploring with my son, we discovered that each child has a virtual classroom where he or she can read books, create art projects, play games, sing songs and complete puzzles to set him or her on an interactive learning path. There are over 2,000 learning activities in the classroom alone (over 9,000 in total on the site) that cover math, science, art, reading, writing and social studies.
After hours of engaging with the tools and resources, I could tell my kids really enjoyed learning this way, although it held my 4-year-old’s attention much better than my 8-year-old’s (probably because he is better suited for Adventure Academy, the learning app from the same company geared toward kids ages 8-13). But one aspect they both got really into is the tickets. Kids can earn tickets for completing lessons, which then can be used to “buy” virtual items. While they’re having fun pretending they’re earning money just like grownups do, this reward system is actually incentivizing them to keep working. It also encourages them to plan ahead by keeping track of how many tickets they have and setting goals to save up enough to buy a certain reward.
In just the three weeks that we have been subscribers, I’ve seen my 4-year-old’s vocabulary grow as well his word and number recognition. I’m comfortable leaving him to use ABCmouse independently thanks to the child safe features (like no pop-up ads or external links to prompt kids off the site) and with the reassurance that I can always track his progress through our account. Up to three kids can create their own avatars on one account, so you don’t have to worry about separate payments for each child’s use.
The verdict: For $9.95 a month, ABCmouse is definitely a worthy investment while the kids are home from school and you’re mustering all your multitasking strength wearing several different mom-teacher-cook-professional hats at once. You can get started with a free 30-day trial here.
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