A good educational subscription should include several key features:
· Easy navigability
· Appealing to target audience
· Available across several devices
· Provides a means to track learning/progress
Sometimes, you really do get what you pay for. An amazing free educational app can be like a unicorn: everyone wants to find one, but no one ever has. Many "free" apps are often truncated versions of pay apps - enough to whet the appetite so a parent will pay for better, more diverse content. Many parents may already be familiar with Starfall and ABCMouse; here are some other educational subscription sites that parents have recommended.
BrainPOP offers strong, engaging animation that makes learning fun. A distinguishing feature of this service is its diversity in both subject matter and service options. BrainPOP Jr ($99/year) offers opportunities for K-3, while Pop ($115/year) is for ages 4+. However if you're interested in introducing your kiddo to foreign languages, they additionally offer Spanish and French ($99/year). BrainPOP also developed an ESL-focused service as well.
Related: Top 10 Free, Safe Educational Websites for Kids
Easy to navigate with a menu bar for science, social studies, English, math, arts & music, health, and engineering and technology categories, kids will love its interactive interface and short-burst lessons. Each category is further broken down into units, and each unit offers activities including movies, quizzes, make-a-map and more.
Common Sense Media rates BrainPOP Jr 4 stars, and provides many positive parent and kid reviews.
Agnitus offers over 1,000 curriculum-based learning activities that kids can access across various platforms, making it ideal when you're on the go. Geared toward the pre-k to 3rd grade crowd, the service markets that it "…ensures mastery of fundamental preschool and kindergarten skills." While children play a variety of educational games, parents receive skill reports which track how a child progresses regarding certain skill sets.
Overall, Agnitus focuses on over 30 core skills essential for this age range for $6.99 per month. Skills include initial consonant sounds, word starting sounds, 2-D shapes, recognizing numerals, and object based division, just to name a few. Users will enjoy the many books on the site as well, which offer classic and new stories packed with interactivity. Prospective parents can test-drive this subscription for 7 days before committing.
Common Sense Media rates Agnitus 3 out of 5 stars, with many 4 to 5 star reviews by parents.
3. Curious World
Curious World's purpose is to "feed curious minds". Developed by Houghton Mifflin Harcout, the activities focus on preparing kids to excel at and love learning. Kids may love learning with recognizable favorites in the HMH catalogue such as Curious George.
This subscription site offers thousand s of games, videos, and books for students ages 2 through 7, all of which are a great balance between real-world and animated concepts. It is accessible across platforms including iPhones and Apple TV. The subscription can be personalized for up to four children, and parents (or kids) can tailor learning opportunities based on the child's age and interests.
Related: 5 Great Math Websites for Kids and Parents
This service is ad-free, allowing users to focus solely on the educational content without disruption. Curious World runs $9.99 per month or $79.99 for a year. It also offers a parent dashboard where parents can monitor their children's progress among 8 important learning areas. Like similar services, Curious World offers a free 7-day trial, so parents can determine if this is the best fit for their family. Criticisms of this service often focus on the games; while some are educational, some may lack real learning opportunities-it may be best for younger rather than older children.
Common Sense Media rates this service 3 out of 5 stars.
Looking for a low-key but fun site for pre-k through 8th grade? Check out Funbrain.com-it's free! Created in 1997, this site now offers 100s of educational games, stories, and videos that focuses on building kids' competencies in math, reading, literacy, and problem-solving. Resources are divided by grade or by type.
Clicking on the grade will bring up a multitude of activities children (or parents) can select from. While many of the activities do provide educational value, the site can seem more cluttered then some of the other pay sites; additionally, there are advertisements on the site. However, as a free resource, it offers a multitude of educational content. Note: many advertisements focus on Funbrain's sister site Poptropica, which is a paid virtual world.
Common Sense Media rates this service 3 out of 5 stars.
While no single site will meet everyone's needs, there are many great options providing quality educational content. Read the reviews posted by parents and industry experts to get a sense of the subscription before forking over your money! Parent reviews exist as fabulous, truthful resources to help you determine if a particular service is a good match.
Also, take advantage of the free trials to determine if your child likes the interface of a particular subscription site; what appeals to one child may turn off another. Most free trials require an email, and will send a temporary access code that automatically expires within the given period.
Remember: subscription services require cancellation verbally or in writing before ending the service; be sure you read the fine print on how to cancel the service so you know the process before you begin!