ABCmouse uses a great deal of interactive and multimedia content that are built into the program to teach subject matter.
There are educational video games, subject-related puzzles, music, digital artwork, printables, and even a pretty substantial library filled with regular and read-aloud children’s books. In this article we ask, How does ABCmouse work? and we look at the various features and what value they bring.
The general idea is to capture and maintain the child’s interest with engaging content so that they won’t just click off the app. The program does this pretty well and the content is actually of pretty high quality.
There are lots of songs and fun stories as well as some pretty fun games that span reading, math and even the solar system. If you’re familiar with classic math blaster-style games and puzzles, they are something like that.
This is includes More than just capturing kids’ interest, we like that ABCmouse’s content is really set up to accommodate a variety of learning styles.
Whether your child learns better through listening and song (aural/verbal learners), or by observing and watching (visual learners), by doing puzzles and reasoning things out (logical/mathematical learners) or by taking a hands-on, interactive approach (kinesthetic), there is educational content for pretty much any type of student, which is not something you typically see in these kinds of educational apps and is something we appreciate.
ABCmouse has a built-in reward system to encourage kids to keep learning. As they complete lessons along their learning path, they earn “tickets.” Completing more difficult material yields more tickets, and as they accumulate those tickets kids can “buy” virtual rewards for their account that are then accessible in specific locations in the program.
These are usually virtual items used to decorate their classroom, virtual fish tanks, animals etc.
One item that we particularly enjoyed was a virtual hamster. Upon purchasing the hamster with some tickets, the program then activates a My Hamster section and gives kids their very own virtual hamster to play with. Kids can use tickets to buy and build virtual items and habitats for the little guy and even use their creativity to build some really crazy mazes for it to run through.
While some parents may express concern that this ticket system is a lot like in-app purchases or may be distracting to kids, we feel it can be very beneficial.
Gamification of learning is highly encouraged and a pretty well-regarded concept in education today. In addition to the obvious fact that making learning fun makes kids want to continue, turning learning into a game can make educational material more engaging and interactive, resulting in greater knowledge retention.
Further, this ticket system can foster in kids a sense of accomplishment, control, and responsibility over their learning, in particular letting them see the direct consequence of their choices and actions.
The only real downside we see is if kids spend more time, say, decorating their virtual hamster cage than learning but that can be easily overcome with minor parental oversight.
Perhaps as important as the content, ABCmouse gives parents the ability to monitor each child’s app usage and learning progress through a progress dashboard.
Her parents can view their children’s accomplishments, see how they’re progressing in their learning and lessons, and even view where their kids are spending most of their time (in case they are getting distracted by the program’s many cute features).
Some parents see analytic features as a bit intrusive, but we feel that the reality is they are quite important for keeping parents involved in their children’s education.
By providing an analytics dashboard, ABCmouse very helpfully gives parents the necessary insight to see not just how their kids are using the app itself but gives them clues as to where their kids may be having difficulties with subject matter (e.g. getting stuck or ignoring certain subjects altogether).
With this knowledge, parents can then modify their educational plan, usage of the app and even come up with an action plan to close any skill gaps.
ABCmouse Assessment Center
If you want more in-depth data on your child’s progress, ABCmouse also offers an interesting Assessment Center add-on to the Early Learning Academy.
Developed in collaboration with the University of Chicago, the Assessment Center allows kids to assess their skills in things like literacy, math, and language through a variety of short tests that are usually under 9 minutes long. And access is unlimited, so kids can periodically assess their skills.
With hundreds of assessments along thousands of items, the Assessment can give parents a personalized report on their child’s skills in various subjects and even goes a step further, helpfully recommending specific lessons that can help them improve their outcomes.
The idea here is to help parents get a better understanding of their child’s learning progress in specific areas as they go along and to help guide learning paths – finding areas of strength and finding where kids need more help so that both students and parents can focus their effort and time to where it’s more needed.
Combined with the in-built ABCmouse progress tracking, we believe the Assessment Center gives parents deeper insight into how well their kids are learning and their child’s learning and academic readiness as a whole.
We also think it can be especially useful to parents who may not have access to these types of informal assessments locally.
While powerful and potentially quite useful, unfortunately, the assessment center isn’t included with the basic ABCmouse subscription, although you can purchase the Assessment Center from the main app itself or as a separate subscription when you sign up.
How safe is ABCmouse?
ABCmouse is quite safe for kids and we don’t think it requires more than light parental supervision, largely to make sure that kids aren’t getting too distracted. We think kids should have no problem using this program independently.
They are fully compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, and the apps and website contain no ads or pop-ups that can distract, sell products, link to other external websites or inject malware.
And in this day and age, that’s nothing to sneeze at. Try it for free for 30 Days