Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Anyone who has read my blog for a while (or who checks out the sidebar on the left) will know that I have taken a look at Time4Learning twice before. The first time was a review of the whole site HERE in 2008. The second time was just the preschool activities HERE last year. Since my kids had enjoyed it in the past, I offered to take another look at the full k-8th grade offerings again.
Just in case you aren't familiar with it, here's a little info from their site:
Time4Learning is a convenient, online homeschool curriculum that combines education with interactive fun. (It offers) animated lessons, interactive activities, printable worksheets and detailed reporting.
Beyond being a curriculum option for homeschoolers, Time4Learning also makes a fun way to supplement your child's learning or review important concepts, especially since the concepts correlate to state standards.
Since I've already written extensively about Time4Learning, let me focus on my experience from the past month-kid by kid.
My eldest, who is 8th grade, used it a little bit, but it didn't enthrall him, and since we already have a full curriculum, it really was more for concept review. Since I have 4 kids and finite access to computers, I didn't push him to use it. He wasn't the main reason I wanted to check it out again anyway. I do want to say that I did notice some positive changes in terms of overall tone and presentation, but I also found a vocabulary lesson on synonyms that still referred to classmates as "losers", and for my 8th grader, I'm not looking for anything that encourages him to think that speaking unkindly of others is okay.
My daughter, who is in 6th grade, also failed to be drawn in. However, it should be noted that there is a new Time4Art component that she would have LOVED to check out. Unfortunately, right now it is only available to people who have completed at least one month of membership, so she couldn't give it a try. She did check out the main 6th grade stuff, but only because I made her do it. She's not really computer oriented, and she doesn't really love to learn anyway, so this type of thing isn't the best fit for her either-but she's not really the one I wanted to try this out for either.
My 10 year old son thought Time4Learning was a hit. But even with him liking it a lot, he only managed to actually use it twice in our month subscription because of the logistics of our school set-up. I did alert him to my concerns from the previous review about inappropriate language, etc. (like above), but he did not find anything that he knew I would object to in his exploration of the site. I wish our day allowed for more Time4Learning time for him, but again, he wasn't the reason I wanted to give Time4Learning another go...
Which brings us to my 6 year old. SHE is the reason I wanted to check out Time4Learning again. She loved the preschool level, and still regularly asks to go on Time4Learning. And she is a reluctant reader, so I was hoping Time4Learning would encourage her along. She definitely is the one in my family who got the most use out of Time4Learning. She would get on there all day if I'd let her. One of the first lessons she did was on the water cycle, and she then proceeded to explain the whole thing to her daddy that night. It was amazing, because I was sure that was a little advanced for her "just starting 1st grade" self but she did great. I also liked that I could change her grade level on certain activities up or down on grade, so I could adjust her reading activities back to kindergarden, which is where she really needed to be, with just the push of a button. For her, Time4Learning was a total hit. Her school day is not so full yet with the more intense subject her siblings have, and I could allow her access to a separate computer where she contentedly clicked and learned while I focused on some of the more "book work" type stuff the other kids needed to do.
The pros: Time4Learning gets bigger and better all the time, but the price has remained constant. Each grade level includes language arts and math, and most also have history and science-all for the same price. And currently Time4Art is free also, but only after you have used Time4Learning for one month. Time4Learning is very parent friendly, offering lesson plans and detailed lesson overviews. Plus, you can actually do the activity yourself and exit out a different way so that your score is not recorded. And you can easily view your child's progress via the progress reports like you see above. Parents can assign work for the day by looking at the number of lessons for each subject and dividing that by the number of days of schooling you want to do. Or, you can just let your child's learning be interest driven. The sitemap is very detailed and is a great way to see exactly what Time4Learning has to offer.
The cons: If their amazing offerings have remained constant, so too have my two main cons. First, while it seemed a little better, I still think there is no need for an animated lesson to reflect the worst of what tween age behavior has to offer. Characters can get the meaning across without calling others "losers" for example. And second, while the sheer amount of content undoubtedly makes it a great value, I still wish there was more of a family pricing plan. The current pricing is $19.95 per month for your first student, and $14.95 a month for each student after that. But if you household would feature several users, the cost can add up quickly as it would in my house if all four kids used it.
The bottom line: You can view sample lessons online HERE. Time4Learning offers a 14 day money-back guarantee. I would honestly consider it for my youngest child, as at the younger levels I have not encountered any of the objectionable (to me) language. And I know lots of people who use Time4Learning and love it! While I don't see me ever using it as my full curriculum (even though it can function that way), I do think it is worth checking out. You can learn more about Time4Learning HERE on their website. You should also go HERE to check out what other members of the TOS Crew had to say.
Legal Disclaimer: I received a one month free trial for up to 4 users on Time4Learning in exchange for my honest review. That one month membership was the only compensation I received.