Geek Dad Report: A Year of ABCmouse With My Toddler
ABCmouse Early Learning Academy — Part 1 of 5
*ABCmouse.com is a global education initiative of Age of Learning, Inc. Our goal is to help children build a strong foundation for future academic success by providing a comprehensive and engaging online curriculum to greatly assist early learners to succeed in pre-k, kindergarten, and early elementary school programs. ABCmouse.com is subscription-based, with no advertising, pop-up ads, or links to other sites. Children can learn and explore with their parents, or on their own (depending on age and ability), in a safe and secure online educational environment.
I’m always trying to find the best way to help my daughter excel in her learning. Although she is not yet two and a half years old, I’m ever vigilant in teaching her whatever I can. After seeing their commercials thousands of times I had our PR Director at WatchPlayRead reach out to ABCmouse for me. The plan is simple: Mara and I will sit down and use the program 3-5 times a week for a year. Not only am I going to measure her progression in the program, but also the progression in her learning compared to other children her age.
If you are looking for something you can sit your kid in front of so they can learn on their own, you’re going to be disappointed. Programs like Baby Einsteins are detrimental to your child’s early learning development.
Fredrick J. Zimmermann, PHD, Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, MPH, and Andrew N. Meltzoff, PHD did a study for the University of Washington in 2007 proving that no commercial television show or home video has any value for children 2 and under. It goes further to say children 3 and under should have zero time in front of the TV screen. Heavy television viewing between the ages of 0 and 3 years has been associated with subsequent development of problems with attention, impaired reading, and mathematical proficiency.
While the study did show that programs like Blues Clues, Sesame Street, and Barney have proven beneficial for children ages 2 1/2 to 5 years old, it also showed that programs like Baby Einsteins can severely stunt your child’s social development. The study simply concluded that among infants aged 8 to 16 months, exposure to “baby DVDs/videos” was associated with lower scores on a Communicative Development Inventory – a standard language development test. The study found no significant effects for any of the forms of media that were viewed among toddlers aged 17 to 24 months.
So, if you want your child to benefit from this program (or life in general) take the time and participate in their learning! Don’t just sit them down in front of the TV, or the computer and hope they figure things out on their own.
So can your two year old benefit from ABCmouse?
Absolutely! My daughter has greatly benefitted from ABCmouse in just a matter of two months. The Zimmerman, Christakis, and Meltzoff study from 2007 also showed that daily reading and storytelling were found to be associated with somewhat higher language scores, especially for toddlers. ABCmouse not only incorporates storytelling and reading, it also has games to help develop hand eye coordination, music, puzzles to stimulate cognitive progression, and loads of valuable information for your child. My progress with my daughter is undeniable. Her day care teachers, and doctors tell us she is far advanced for age. Now, some of that can be credited to my wife and me pre ABCmouse, but this program has definitely added to her learning. Because of this program my daughter has developed a love for puzzles, a stronger interest in numbers and letters, and most importantly, a structured and consistent learning path that will help her come school time.
The learning path is structured with activities that are appropriate for each age level and has a specific progression to maximize learning. It also makes sure that my daughter doesn’t get in over her head. Getting in over your head can be frustrating for anyone, especially a toddler. We take the time to work through all the activities of each level of the learning path until she fully comprehends each one. Mixed in with these activities are bits of hidden fun like coloring pages and singalong songs. Don’t be fooled though, these steps are every bit as beneficial to your child’s learning as the others. At the end of each path you have the option to print off additional materials, usually something for the child to color. Each activity is rewarded with carnival style tickets and your child can use these tickets to purchase different items for their virtual room or pets.
For when your child wants to go rouge with their learning, or just kick back for a little bit o’ fun. In here you can pick any activity you want to do from the thousands that are available. The different options are, “Reading, Math, World Around Us, Art & Colors, Music & Songs, Library, Puzzles, and Games.” Once you select the category you want, you can specify the level at which your child is learning. As with the activities in the learning path, tickets are earned for any activities completed here. In addition to these activities there are classroom pets to take care of including a fish tank with different fish to learn about.
Think of the classroom as the main gateway for your child’s learning. You literally have instant access to all of the lessons in the learning path as well as access to the learning path itself. It’s kind of like a very visually attractive directory for your ABCmouse. I should also point out that your decorations, teacher, and many other aspects of the classroom are customizable. You can even create and dress an avatar to look like your child. The classroom and activities will change with the seasons and holidays and you can choose to exclude activities and decorations from certain holidays.
Part 2 will discuss my child’s progress during months 2-4 of using ABCmouse, and the “My Room,” and “Shopping” areas of the site. I will also compare the iPad application to the computer-based site.
You want to give ABCmouse a try? Click this link and check them out.