I know, The absolute last thing you want right now is for some random person like me to recommend yet another thing for your child to do on a screen. Between watching TV, playing video games, iPad apps and, now, school Zooms, it seems like a modern kid’s life is going to be mostly lived on a device. But hear me out.
Even before there was a pandemic, I was already feeling guilty about the amount of screen time that my son inevitably would get during a day due to my inability to keep him occupied with other activities. Work, chores, and boring adult-type things have always gotten in the way of me being able to play with him myself and if you have an only child, well, let’s just say that screens make the world stay sane.
But screens are a big issue in most households when it comes to children and the amount they use them, no doubt about it. It used to be: “You have 1 hour of TV time a day!” Then we started saying: “OK, you can have 3 hours, but they have to be spread out over the course of the day!” Now I find myself saying things like: “Get off your iPad! You have a Fortnite tournament on Xbox in 5 minutes and you need to be done before we all watch The Great British Baking Show: Holiday Edition! Together! As a family!” It’s crazy. But my point is while screen time itself can cause great anxiety, the content on each screen is the real issue.
What are my kids watching? What are they playing? Are they learning from what they are watching or playing? Is Angry Birds better for their brain than Candy Crush? (That’s actually a trick question. Both of those games are zombie-makers. They will turn your entire family’s brain to mush and they should be avoided at all costs. They are super fun though…) How can I allow them to satisfy their desire to play a game and learn at the same time? Well, I have an answer for you. Let me introduce you, if you aren’t already in the know, to the world of ABCmouse.com Early Learning Academy.
ABCmouse.com Early Learning Academy was our most buoyant life saver ever
I would argue that my son’s love for ABCmouse.com has a direct correlation to the excellent grades he’s getting in reading and in math at school to this day. I certainly can’t take credit for any of that! (I’m not that smart or narcissistic.)
We signed up for ABCMouse.com Early Learning Academy when my son was around 4 years old and when he would earn some computer time, he would jump right to ABCmouse.com, not passing Go and not collecting $200. Without any sort of regulation, the kid would’ve been on this site for days, uninterrupted. There’s so much to do on there! There are ABCmouse games and puzzles, and not to mention the many interactive parts of the “classroom” that your kid can click on and play with.
His absolute favorite thing to do the second he logged on, after giggling about how the little mouse in the corner just said hello to him by name, was to take care of his virtual fish tank. He cared more about taking care of his virtual fish than he did about taking care of his actual, real-life cat. That is a fact. He still has never once scooped out our actual, real-world litter box. But I digress.
One aspect of ABCmouse.com that I love is this progressive map that your kid follows on his or her learning journey. It looks like a board game, but it’s a literal learning path that helps you track your kid’s progress. Once they pass the challenges or read the stories on one square, they move on to the next. This is such a great, visually stimulating tool for them because it inherently makes it feel like a game, but they are actually learning something on each square.
And as they advance, they feel a sense of accomplishment. Just like winning a game, which, in a way, is exactly what they really are winning. The game of knowledge (groan, yes, but true). There is also a progress meter that tracks their progress, which is also very satisfying for kids to watch get filled in because they know that they are the ones doing the filling.
ABCmouse.com has 6 academic levels, starting with Toddler Time, which is for kids 18-36 months. From there, they have 2 preschool levels and 2 for Pre-K, and then 2 each for kindergarteners, 1st graders and finally 2nd graders. As your child moves up each level, the map changes and the challenges become more difficult, coinciding with the kinds of things your kid will be learning in school. Each level has about 90 lessons, 250 learning videos and books, and 150 games, not to mention 100s of art activities, writing activities, puzzles, and printables. It’s almost like having access to a full 4 grade levels worth of materials.
ABCMouse AdventureAcademy.com is great for big kids
OK, so, what if your kid is older, like say 8-13, and isn’t into cleaning out digital fish tanks? ABCmouse not only offers the Early learning Academy for the youngsters, but also a program for the older kids as well. ABCmouse AdventureAcademy.com is amazing because it appeals to older kids in a different way. Instead of a board game, it’s set up to feel more like a video game, sort of in the same vein as Minecraft or Legend of Zelda or….Animal Crossing?…you know what? I’m out of touch with video games, let’s just say it looks like one, which definitely makes it more appealing to the older set because they are allowed to do things like customize their avatars, create and decorate a home for their characters, and actually play online with their friends in a monitored and safe environment.
ABCmouse Adventure Academy is safe and non-violent and the activities and “missions” in the game are all language, math, science, and social studies related. So, again, you’ll be tricking your kid to learn through fun. You are so sneaky. But ultimately a great parent.
How much does ABCMouse cost?
The cost of ABCmouse.com Early learning Academy is only $9.95/month. And on top of that, you can try it free for 1 month right off the bat. A month should be a long enough time to try it out and get really frustrated and then curse this guy named Jason who told you how great it was when you don’t think it lives up to the standards that he outlined in his review. That won’t happen, but it’s enough time for you to come to know that. Consider it, at the very least, your safety net. You can yell and scream at me about your “terrible time,” all the while not having to spend a dime.
ABCmouse Adventure Academy also offers 30 days for free and it only $9.99 a month. That’s only .04 more than the Early Learning Academy, so…a pretty great deal. And that’s the kind of math your children will be learning. You just watched me use it in real time.
How to get ABCMouse for free through schools and libraries
Many schools offer ABCMouse or Adventure Academy as part of their curriculum and your kids may already have access to it as part of their online learning curriculum. If you plan on homeschooling your child, or are currently, ABCmouse.com Early Learning Academy is also available through some public libraries and is a great addition to your homeschooling curriculum and won’t cost you a dime. Even if you aren’t homeschooling, you may want to check with your local library before signing up for a paid account.
ABCMouse is on Kindle and many more devices
Where is ABCmouse.com available? Literally everywhere. Your kid can use a PC, Mac, desktop, laptop, iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire; whatever your device, it’s available. The website itself is an access point and there is also an app. As long as you have access to some sort of internet, you’ll be good to go. If you don’t then, well, I guess I just lied when I said “everywhere.”
So is ABCMouse worth it?
I know it’s hard to consider adding another monthly cost to all of your current bills. At this rate, a new streaming service that has some show on it that your kids have to have access to comes out every month. I totally get it.
But ABCmouse.com is inexpensive, it’s great for your kids, it’s great for you and, most importantly of all, it’s not just another service that provides endless episodes of Bubble Guppies with no regard for human sanity. And that is the greatest savings of all. You get 100s of lessons, activities, puzzles, and games that your children will love and secretly be learning from and you will also get the peace of mind that comes when you know that their screen time is being used for the forces of good and not for the forces of YouTube. And, on top of all of that, you get 30 whole days for free.