Considering ABC Mouse, but not sure if it’s the right fit for your family? Read this article to learn about the benefits, how it works, and what I think about the program.
If you’ve been searching for a good pre-k or or elementary online learning program, I have zero doubt in my mind that you’ve heard of ABC Mouse. It’s one of the most popular early education online programs out there. And there’s good reason for that. Because I know that we homeschoolers are bogged down with curriculum options, I thought I would do a bit of the footwork for you. Read on to learn more about what ABC Mouse is, who it can help, what it consists of, how it works, and what I think of it.
What is ABCMouse and Who Is It For?
ABCMouse is an online early learning program that is designed for ages 2 to 8. However, when your child starts and finishes is really dependent on their needs and progress within the program. The program utilizes engaging visuals, sounds, and activities to not only teach children new material, but to give them the opportunity to practice what they have learned. The program is utilized by teachers and parents alike – including homeschoolers. It is also used by librarians at many public libraries.
The starting age of 2 is pretty perfect because that’s when a lot of us start trying to teach our kids (through play) concepts like colors, shapes, and numbers. With ABCMouse, we can introduce these concepts in an equally fun and interactive manner.
What Do the Kids Learn?
The ABCMouse curriculum covers the basics of what kids should learn between Pre-k and 2nd grade. The topics that are covered include:
They take a very sequential approach to reading and language arts. Of course, the first step is learning the alphabet – including being able to recognize both lowercase and uppercase letters. Then they work on learning phonics before moving on to rhyming words and word families. They also learn about sentence structure and the parts of speech,among other things. With 450+ books from beginning readers up, they definitely help kids develop those early literacy skills that they will build on for the rest of their lives.
The starting point for math is learning to recognize the numbers 1-20 as well as shapes. Then they learn to count, study the base 10 system, and practice place value. Before you know it, they are adding and subtracting, measuring things, telling time, and counting money. Best of all, it’s all done in fun ways, making a subject that can often bring tears into something enjoyable that they feel confident in.
With science, kids learn about not only our bodies, but the world around us. They study the body, health, plants, animals, weather, space, matter, and more.
They also learn about the world through studying history, notable figures, geography, maps, and more.
In the art lessons, kids learn about primary and secondary colors, shading, and how to use lines and shapes to create art. With activities like paint-by-number, dot-to-dots, and puzzles, they get a chance to show their creative side.
By the way, this is my affiliate link. If you choose to stay with ABCmouse.com I will earn a small commission. However, this is at no extra cost to you. If you have any questions about this program please don’t hesitate to ask. Our family has used this first hand for 3 years.
How Does it Work?
Take an Assessment
Once you’ve created your children’s profiles,it’s time to figure out where your kids need to be on the learning path. The first step is to take an assessment with each child. While it may be tempting to coach your child through this assessment or give them hints (especially when you feel like they know the answer), resist! The assessment is gauging where they are with their skills, so helping them will only do them a disservice.
Set Out on the Learning Path
Once they have been placed at the right spot, they can get started following their individual learning paths. Each lesson on the learning path builds up to the next lesson, so in order to progress, they need to master their current skills and concepts. While it is encouraged that parents spend time with their children while they are working, every effort has been made to make sure that kids can work independently. The navigation is fairly simple and there are audio prompts all over the site to help them figure out what to do next.
Do Some Exploring
In addition to the learning path, your child can also explore other areas:
In the interactive zoo, your kids can learn about all kinds of zoo animals from lions and zebras to monkeys and penguins. They can also read books, play games, and do various activities related to each animal.
On the virtual farm, they will be able to learn about cows, chickens, horses, and other farm animals as well as watch videos and take part in farm-related activities.
Your kids will also be able to pick out their own virtual fish to fill the classroom aquarium as well as learn some cool fishy trivia.
Which Devices Can You Use to Access ABCMouse?
If you have a computer, tablet, or smartphone that has stable internet access, you should be good to go! It works perfectly with Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and updated versions of Internet Explorer and Safari. You can also use it on Apple devices (5.1.1 or later), Android devices (4.4.x or later), and Kindle devices. If you are using a tablet or smartphone, you can download the app on iTunes, Google Play, and the Amazon Appstore.
How Much Does it Cost?
Like many online learning programs for kids, ABCMouse operates on a subscription model. Parents pay $9.95 per month for access to the program. They accept all major credit cards (include prepaid credit cards, Paypal, and Amazon Pay, so you can have payments withdrawn automatically each month instead of having to remember to pay. If you stick to a tight budget and need to know the exact day that payments will be withdrawn, keep in mind that they bill on the same day each month OR the first available day. For example, if you sign up on the 31st of the month, be aware that on months with just 28-30 days, your payment will be applied to your account on the last day of that particular month.
ABCMouse knows that we like to try before we buy, so they offer any NEW member the opportunity to try it out for a month for FREE. You can cancel at anytime within that first month, but after that, you will be charged the usual $9.95 per month. You do have to enter your payment info to take advantage of this, but the first payment would not be processed until after the free trial.
In addition to the one month free trial, they also have a special membership price of $79.99 for one year OR $99.99 for two years. So, if you have the funds to pay in bulk, it’s a great way to save money.
What Do You Get for the Price?
First of all, you can enroll up to 3 children on one account. This is pretty cool considering other online learning programs require you to pay a separate fee per child. The program currently boasts an impressive 9,000 learning activities spread across 850 lesson plans and 10 levels.
Catering to all different types of learning styles, the activities include (but are not limited to):
- Books (both fiction and non-fiction)
- Music videos featuring both traditional and original songs
- Games covering topics such as phonics and math
- Online art activities, such as coloring and paint-by-number
- Printables you can use for offline learning
Membership includes 24/7 access to all of the learning activities. You will have one parent profile, plus up to 3 student profiles. For each student profile, your kids can personalize their experience. They can create their own avatar, choose their own pet, decorate their pet’s aquarium, and even choose their teacher avatar. In the parent profile, you can track each child’s progress. And all 4 of you can be logged in and working at the same time, as long as you’re on 4 separate devices. That means you can have dedicated time during your homeschool day for everyone to work on their ABCMouse lessons.
Note: Although not included in the $9.95 subscription package, you have the option to add on the Assessment Center at any time. The Assessment Center provides you with detailed data on how your child performs on each skill and their progress over time It also allows you to customize lessons based on this information.
What If I’m Not Happy With It?
As mentioned above, ABCMouse has a free trial that any new member can use to try out the program FREE for a full month. Then, you can decide whether you want to cancel the membership or continue as a paid subscriber. However, if you opt to keep the subscription going for a while and then decide that you no longer need it, you can cancel anytime by going to Options > Parent > My Account after you have logged in.
Cancelling will prevent any future payments, but if you cancel before your month is over, you will still have access until the time when your payment would have normally been due. For example, if your payments usually come out on the 20th, but you cancel on the 10th, you will still have access to the program until the 20th. Then, if you decide at some later point that you want to start it up again, you can reactivate with the same account.
What Do I Think?
First off, I just have to say that I think that ABCMouse has earned its reputation as one of the top early learning programs online. It meets a need that many of us (especially homeschoolers and moms of littles) have, which is that we know what our kids need to learn to be ready for school, but may not know how to go about teaching it. ABCMouse has created a comprehensive program that helps tremendously.
Fun Rewards System
One of the things that we really appreciated (outside of what’s already been mentioned) is the rewards system. Essentially, whenever your child completes a learning activity, they are rewarded with tickets. They can redeem these tickets for cool things like new items to decorate their avatar’s bedroom or buying things for their virtual pet.
I know that some people don’t believe in incentivizing learning, but I personally don’t have an issue with it. After all, as adults we are incentivized for doing our jobs well by not only being paid, but receiving promotions and bonuses. So, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to reward our children for doing well with their “job”. And the excitement they exude when they earn enough tickets to get the prize they’ve had their eye on is pretty sweet. It can also be a great way to teach your kids about setting budgets, saving up for what they want, and prioritizing when there is more than one thing they can spend their rewards on.
I love that the website doesn’t have any outside content or ads that my child can accidentally click on.
Easy to Track Progress
I really appreciate that the parent’s area helps me to track progress easily so that I know what we need to work on a bit more.
Navigation May Be Tricky for Younger Kids
I will say, though, that the navigation may be a bit tricky for younger users. They definitely have to have a certain level of computer savvy. With that being said, you will want to work alongside your children for a while until they get the hang of navigating to each lesson and the rest of the program.
Supplement – Not a Stand-Alone Curriculum
Now, for the big question: Can ABCMouse be used as a standalone curriculum? I’m going to be honest here. I don’t think so. I think it is a wonderful, comprehensive SUPPLEMENT to doing things offline, like reading books, going on field trips, and (when they’re older) using other learning materials. I believe that it is a tremendous help for preparing littles for school and for reviewing skills/concepts. I also think that when used consistently, it can make a huge difference in math and literacy success.
Overall, while I don’t think that a subscription to ABC Mouse should be all that you use for homeschooling your 2 to 8-year-olds, I 100% believe that it is a valuable investment in their early education.
But don’t take my word for it. Try it out for yourself! Head over to their site to try their one month free trial and see how you and your children feel about it. I’d love to hear what you think!
This is my affiliate link. If you choose to stay with ABCmouse.com I will earn a small commission. However, this is at no extra cost to you. If you have any questions about this program please don’t hesitate to ask. Our family has used this first hand for 3 years.