Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Review of ABCmouse - Is It Worth It?

Before I tell you about ABCmouse.com, let me just point out that this is my honest review from a mom's point of view.  I was not  asked by ABCmouse to review their service and I paid for their service just like anyone else!! This post has become very popular, so I try to keep it updated with accurate information and suggestions.

*Added note: Be sure to read the comments left by my readers at the bottom of this post. Their experience and advice is just as helpful as mine! And feel free to add your own comments about successes (or failures) with ABCmouse.


What is ABCmouse?

I'm sure you've seen the commercials for the website called ABCmouse.com.  If you haven't, it's basically an educational website for children that you subscribe to monthly.  I know, I know, just like me you're probably thinking, "Why on earth would I pay for something like that?  There is so much on the internet for free!"  And that's true.  I can tell you my son's favorite websites right off the bat, and they're all free:

- NickJr.com
-DisneyJr.com (although they recently revamped their site and took away all of his favorite games, which I just don't understand)
-pbskids.org
-sesamestreet.org (their games are GREAT, and pretty much allow him to navigate freely without much support)

But my complaints about those sites are that they have pop-up advertisements, they don't always work (games will crash unexpectedly or freeze), and sometimes my kiddo needs help finding the right games or figuring out the directions.

ABCmouse has no pop-up advertisements, and we've yet to have a problem with it not loading, crashing or freezing (it better not if were paying for it!).


So, What Does it Have?

Well, pretty much everything.  Your child gets an avatar and can then navigate through a "classroom."  Subjects range from math to reading, science to art.  They've pretty much got it all.

Educational Advisors.  They have a curriculum board of education experts, according to their website, who help plan their games, and incorporate state standards into their lessons.

Diverse Screenshots.  They like to keep the kids entertained, so they will occasionally spruce up the screen for the holidays.  Here's an example of how they decorated for Halloween in October.

ABCmouse changes their screens for holidays and to add appeal for children.

What's Good About It?

Free One Month Trial with Subscription:  Need I say more?  Try it out free for a month.  If you don't like it, be sure to cancel it, otherwise they will keep billing you monthly.  There are no strings attached. ABCmouse recently offered me my own affiliate link to share with you (but that in no way changes my opinion of ABCmouse- what you read here is the honest truth, I swear!). To access their 30 day free trial, feel free to follow my link here.

Differentiation:  There is literally so much on this site, and what I like is that they appeal to a large array of learning styles.  They have audio pages, games, puzzles, art.  They do their best to reach all types of learners.

From the ABCmouse homepage you can choose what your child  should work on.

Leveled Learning:  You choose your child's level (starting at early pre-K up to Grade 2), and you can change the levels up or down at any time.  When you change levels, you get a whole new set of games/activities.

I liked that they incorporated some of the Everyday Math techniques - this is a hundred chart in the  math section.

Easy navigation:  At first when I looked at it, I thought, "geez, there's too much on here!"  But it's not too bad.  There's a lot to see but the tabs are easy to locate and navigate through.  My 5 year old can play without much supervision, and doesn't need much help following directions or understanding what to do for each activity.

The lady in the middle is your child's 'teacher' and this page helps you navigate your choices.

Engaging:  The games are brightly colored, fun, entertaining.  They hold my son's attention and he doesn't even realize he's learning.  He has favorite games that he likes to play and I can change the level of them so he is not always playing using the same skills.

This little monkey helps identify vowels, consonants and more.

Incentives:  Kids earn "tickets" for every activity they do on ABCmouse.  They can save up their tickets to "buy" items (they're not spending real money at any time, no worries there!) for their virtual room, virtual fish tank or virtual hamster cage.  My son loves the hamsters.  He builds elaborate tunnels for them, which in itself can be educational in an engineering kind of way.

My son builds elaborate tunnels for his virtual hamster.

What's Not So Good About It?

It's not free.  No, but it's not overly expensive either.  At $7.95 per month (their rate as of the publication of this entry), it's way cheaper than tutoring!

Too Much Independence.  It's easy to let your child play for hours, but if you don't want them sitting in front of a computer all day, be sure to monitor the time they spend on there and set a limit for how long you want them to play.

Distracting Incentives.  I mentioned that my son loves the hamster cage ticket incentive.  Sometimes that's all he wants to do on ABCmouse, but that's not really the educational part!  So I tell him "You have to play 6 games first before you hit the hamster store."

Forgetting About It.  There is a possibility that you will purchase ABCmouse and then not use it too much.  If that's the case, then get on there and cancel your payments!  ABCmouse will automatically renew each month unless you tell it not to (you can cancel at any time).  So be vigilant about how much you use it.

Can My Child Play on a SmartPhone or Tablet?

ABCmouse does have an app that is compatible with most Apple and Android devices.  The app is essentially a gateway to gameplay, so you need a strong WiFi connection and the latest updates for your phone or tablet.  Check their FAQ page on their website for more information.  If you're specifically looking for educational apps for your child, check out my recommendations for some great educational apps for kids!

What if I Have More Than One Child?

You can register up to three children per account on ABCmouse.

How Do I Cancel ABCmouse?

It is easy to cancel ABCmouse if you decide you no longer want it.  Just go to the MyAccount section on the Parents page and there should be an option there to discontinue service.  You can also reactivate your account any time.

The Bottom Line - Is it Worth It?

So will your child jump up reading levels and become the super learner they talk about on the TV commercials?  I don't know about that, but it's worth a try.  If you can get the free trial, why not give it a shot?  I especially think it's worth trying if your child is unmotivated to learn (or unwilling to learn!).  If there is a particular area that your child needs help with (such as recognizing letter sounds or counting to 100), this website might be able to help.  And if not, just be sure to cancel before your free trial is up!

**And as an added note, just before The Jersey Momma's Boy entered First Grade, he lost interest in ABCmouse.  Although this might not be true for all learners, this was the case with my boy, so we cancelled our subscription. Since writing this post, ABCmouse has added another level, so their program now goes up to 2nd Grade. 



42 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this information!

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    1. You're welcome! I hope it was helpful to you.

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    2. I've been wondering about this site for awhile now. You're awesome review answered ALL of Mt questions! Thank you so much for taking your time to do this for all of us Mom's out here!!

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    3. Sorry for the late reply, but you are very welcome! Thanks for reading!

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  2. Thank You! This was very helpful! I was looking for the pricing scheme because when I went to sign up for it it didn't say specifically "This is the $7.95 option" It just kept trying to get me to sign up for a year...so I did some research. Thanks again.

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    1. Thanks for your feedback! I'm glad it helped. Yes, definitely look for the monthly option or the option to try it free first. Glad you found what you were looking for. :)

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  3. A note - buying the year subscription brings it down to $5 per month, as it's $60. My problem with ABC Mouse is that you can't limit the time the kids spend playing around with the stupid hamster, and the background music is incredibly annoying after a minute or so. I see there's a tab where they're working on permissions to keep the music volume low, but it isn't ready yet. There is an option to limit how much time is spent on the site each day, but not for any particular section. While it's true that once the child spends his tickets he can't shop anymore, it doesn't deter my daughter from just playing with the fish and hamster and not spending any time learning. I'd like to be able to use the site to keep her busy while I do other things, and it seems I always have to hover over her when she's on, telling her to play some games.

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    1. Awesome tips and comments, Heidi, thank you! Very true about not being able to limit the time in the actual 'play' sections. It would be great if ABC Mouse could change that. The music didn't bother me too much, but I can see how it could get annoying to some people. Thanks for your input!!

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    2. I have had it for several months. My 4 year old loves it but I JUST realized there was a 7.95 fee. I thought the start up $60 fee was an annual fee :( kind of like amazon prime)

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    3. Hi Michael, thanks for commenting. I was searching their site and I couldn't find anything noted about a fee. So you're saying if you sign up for the annual option there is a monthly fee on top of that? Or is it a one time fee? I'll have to look into that because I always thought the yearly subscription was only one fee.

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    4. It's a learning tool,not made to be a babysitter. You're supposed to interact along with them as they learn.

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    5. I agree that the site shouldn't be used as a babysitter (and that pretty much goes for ANY computer game or educational site, in my opinion), but for older kids I think it's good to let them have independent work time on the site, too. It's not about using the site as a babysitter, but encouraging kids to make independent choices.

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    6. It's not ABC MOUSE'S responsibility to tell yr child he or she should stop playing with the hamster and get back on track. This is an opportunity for wimpy parents to exercise their NO muscles.

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    7. I agree that it's up to you as a parent to regulate how much your child plays and when to navigate out of certain areas.

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  4. I like your review. I'm thinking between this and Starfall for my little one. It's good so that his caregiver can provide some educational activities during the day as well. I do like that abcmouse will measure his learning. Thanks again for posting this.

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    1. You're so welcome! Thanks for stopping by, SugarBellyMama. I will have to check out Starfall.

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  5. This is exactly what I've been looking for! I couldn't find the price. It's like netflix, but better! Totally worth it. Thanks to the review, I'm totally trying it. My daughters 4. I want to get her to count to 100, we homeschool and after abut 30, she looses interest. Lol. I can't wait to try this. We have a lot of educational apps on her tablet, but this will be the best addition! Thanks again!! 😘

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  6. This is exactly what I've been looking for! I couldn't find the price. It's like netflix, but better! Totally worth it. Thanks to the review, I'm totally trying it. My daughters 4. I want to get her to count to 100, we homeschool and after abut 30, she looses interest. Lol. I can't wait to try this. We have a lot of educational apps on her tablet, but this will be the best addition! Thanks again!! 😘

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    1. Awesome! So glad it helped. Thanks for visiting!

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  7. You need to be very careful when signing up, or you end up paying doble or more for the same service.

    The service might be good, but the sign up pages are designed to take scam you.
    A month later and with 80$ less in my pocket, i'm canceling the service

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    1. Wow, $80 is pretty steep! What were those charges for? But you're right, you definitely need to be really careful what you agree to and how long you are using the service. Thanks for the heads up.

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  8. We are a few days from the end of the free month trial and I tried to quit and they offered a year for $29.95 so try that to get a better price.

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    1. That's an awesome deal, Randy! Thanks for sharing that tip!!

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  9. Is there a way to give your kid tickets? He earns like 10 a day and wants a cat for 200 tickets. It is going to take him a lifetime!

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    1. Ha! I don't think there is (although that would be a cool concept to be able to gift your kid tickets or something). If I recall, some of the activities are easier than others to earn tickets at. We used to do the coloring pages to earn them faster because you only had to color one tiny thing on the page to earn tickets.

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  10. I love abc mouse! My kids use it all the time. Also, There is a school option/Teacher option. The teacher option is free, all you have to do that is different is answer where the kid's school is!

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  11. Worst rip off ever! Program does not work on ANY browser or device. Freezes up and will not let my 2 sons progress. Sends them on endless loops doing the same lame coloring assignment. After only a few frustrating hours of having it. I cancelled. No refunds! I would not trust them with your payment info either. Many people report still being charged after cancelling. Closed my Paypal too, just in case. I would never recommend this app or this program to anyone

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    1. Ugh, I'm sorry to hear that happened to you. Was that your experience using the app or on desktop? I only have experience using the online version for desktop, and I have never used the app. Thanks for sharing your experience, in case other people have the same issues!

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  12. I did not like ABC mouse for my 4 kiddos. Too busy & as mentioned above, too many glitches. My kids found ways to to get the easy tickets to shop most of the time. I was charged a yearly fee and now $15/mon. on top of that for a year. Even after canceling, it sounds like I will still be charged until my year is officially up. I'll be calling first thing Mon. morning to make sure this doesn't happen...even if I have to change my paypal account. I think I've been scammed by the mouse...

    Time 4 Learning has a much better program. More learning in an organized way, time limits and a very complete comprehensive program. Reports and lesson plans are awesome.

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    1. Sorry for the late reply! Thanks for commenting. You are the second reader to comment about glitches and issues with the site loading. I did not have this problem when using ABCMouse, but I'd be curious if other readers are having the same issues. I will have to check out the other site you mentioned. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience.

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    2. Does it help with classroom rules and how to act in school? What would be done advice on how to train them?

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    3. Hi there! Thanks for commenting. No, I don't think it really teaches children how to behave in an actual classroom setting. The only way to get them used to a classroom (in my opinion) is to start them in school! Preschool gets kids acclimated to what a classroom is like, and helps them get used to general classroom rules. And, of course, parents and caregivers should model good behavior for their children, so that they understand how they should act when school starts. That's just my personal opinion!

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  13. Don't waste your time and money on this crap. My friend used to work there. She told me it was a horrible working environment and terrible human resource management team. They only hire the stupid people to make this crap to poison our kids. It crashed all the time and stealing my money after cancellation. There are better free website out there. My kids doesn't like this ABC Mouse crap! Google their reviews. All bad!!!

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    1. Thanks for voicing your opinion here, Susan. I don't know anything about working for them, and I'm not sure if I agree about them poisoning our childrens' minds. But I do agree that you should shop around to find an educational site that works for your kids. And I also stress to anyone who tries this service (or any online monthly service, for that matter), that you remain vigilant about your monthly charges. It is very easy to be over-charged or charged for services that you don't receive, if you're not careful. If you're enrolling in their free trial and decide to cancel, make SURE you are not being charged after you discontinue services.

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  14. This is good information but how well does this help the child learn? Has anyone used this and seen their child's knowledge of their ABC, sounds and reading improve from the software?

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    1. That's a good question. When my son used ABCmouse he already knew a lot of the basic skills they were presenting (he was also a fairly good reader for his age), so it was really just reinforcement for him. I do feel it was beneficial for him, though, and was great practice for him, especially with the math skills and handwriting skills. But I would also be curious to hear first-hand from users who felt their children learned a great deal or saw significant improvement in skills. I can definitely say it helped to improve my son's love of learning, though. He was eager to play every day- it was educational and he didn't even realize it. I am happy that it made him want to do subtraction (with a little caterpillar munching game) when normally, that was not his favorite thing to do!

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  15. Hey, decided to take advantage of the Black Friday deal you mentioned above ($45 a year running from Nov 20-27), as today is Nov 26. I clicked on the link, but they are offering $59 for the year, not $45. Still a good deal, so I'll give it a try, but wanted to let you know your info is incorrect.

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    1. Hi there! Sorry for any confusion. The sale DOES run through the 27th, just be sure you're using the specific Black Friday links above or the sidebar ad on my homepage (on desktop or web version). Those are the only links that will give you the discounted price. There is a special price going on for the holidays like you mentioned (also a good deal) but to access the Black Friday deal you have to use the designated links in the post.

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  16. I used the Black Friday link and I see $45, what a deal! My question is, while I was reading the "terms & conditions" it mentioned the option to purchase "Assessment Center access". Can anyone tell me what this is and how much before I go thru with my purchase? The additional costs are bumming me out. Also, I learned my local library has abcmouse available. Has anyone used this? Do you still have to purchase an account or just use the library's license with limited access? thanks for your post, I wish I would have found it sooner!

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    1. Hi Jessica! I never used the assessment center because that is a fairly new addition to ABCmouse and wasn't offered when we used the service. From what I gather, it's a way to test/assess for kindergarten readiness. Can you opt out of that? Is it an added fee? I was not concerned with assessing my son's kindergarten readiness when we purchased the service- I just wanted him to learn/practice basic skills and have fun doing it. But I know some parents might be concerned about preparing them for kindergarten. As far as the library use goes, I'm not sure about that. My guess is they would have a general account for all users, but maybe a reader can chime in and give us some more info about it! If no one responds I'll see if I can do some research and find out for you. Thanks for commenting!

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