As a homeschool mom, I am not a huge fan of electronic time for kids. I feel like most of the apps are a waste of time. While they could be offline using their imaginations, kids seem to get “addicted” to electronics and gravitate toward them instead. There are a lot of applications that claim to be educational but provide very little tangible educational value. My kids have not enjoyed the applications that have “some educational value”. Like most kids, they prefer to get into an app that they consider to be fun as soon as possible.
We recently had the opportunity to review Smile Zemi educational tablet, designed for 1st-5th graders and meets common core standards. I was very skeptical and seriously considered not checking into it. As I mentioned, our prior experiences have fallen clearly into buckets. Either it’s “Educational but not fun” and “Entertainment-focused”, AKA fun. I thought if this is actually educational, my kids aren’t going to enjoy it. Or is too often the case, it would not be very educational at all. Before committing to this project for the website, I did what homeschool moms do… I researched. Multiple reviews shared how students experienced an increase in math and English scores after using it. That was enough for me to decide it would be worth a try.
Guess what. My initial reaction was wrong. Smile Zemi is a great learning tool. It is educational and my kids both enjoy using it. The neat thing about Smile Zemi is that it is an educational tablet with the program on it. It’s designed specifically WITHOUT a web browser, gaming app, and video platforms. So it immediately eliminates the possibility of a child accidentally getting onto something they shouldn’t. It also eliminates the possibility that you have on other devices that a child can switch too soon to a “fun app!”
Lessons on the Smile Zemi weren’t a chore for the kids with both enjoying the experience and feeling accomplished after. This is likely because they looked forward to the rewards of building a character and earning neat cards upon completion of lessons. They were so proud to also show what lessons they had completed after to us. I noticed even the child who wasn’t currently on the Smile Zemi would sit and watch their sibling complete a lesson. They were both excited to see the rewards the other earned. (One room schoolhouse anyone?) The service provides ways for parents to monitor their child’s progress too!
As with any piece of electronics, it comes at a cost. Since Smile Zemi is a stand alone system, there’s an upfront cost of purchasing the tablet. It requires a subscription service after that. (I am not a fan of subscriptions.) While the monthly price is less expensive than a tutor or learning center, it still might be out of some family budgets. They do have a special offer that you can try Smile Zemi educational tablet for free for a few weeks. I think if a parent is seeing improvement during the trial for a struggling child, this would be a great option. There are many wonderful educational resources available for children. It is nice to be able to check out and see for FREE if it works for your child first.
Our children’s education is a place we are happy to invest in, but we have never paid for a subscription at that price point before. Right now, I am seeing happy children excited to learn with Smile Zemi. I am grateful for the free trial Smile Zemi provides so we can evaluate if Smile Zemi is something that could work for our children on a long term basis.
How do you feel about try-before-you-buy offers?