Friday, September 3, 2010

Time 4 Learning Review

As a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew this year, I was given the opportunity to review a computer-based learning program called Time 4 Learning. I ended up using this subscription with Miss O, my 4 year old because I was assigned the Preschool/Pre K version for this review.



Time 4 Learning is a flexible, online program that can be used for homeschoolers as a part of their curriculum, or for supplementation for after-school or summer use. It includes Language Arts, Math, Social Studies and Science for grades Preschool through 8th grade, and costs $19.95 per month for the first child and $14.95 for subsequent children. For that price, your child can access the site as much or as little as they like, can move between 3 grade levels in the different subjects instantly, and can track their progress with Time 4 Learning's detailed progress reports.


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The preschool version of the program is unique in that your child will have access to two levels--Pre K 1, which consists of a variety of subjects such as shapes, colors, numbers, patterns, and the alphabet (plus much more), and Pre K 2, which has the same subjects, but more difficult concepts are introduced. For example, in Pre K 1, your child may review his basic colors. In Pre K 2, he would learn about color mixing or recall information about colors from a story that is read outloud to him (by the computer of course).

Pros:

--Time 4 Learning is FUN! Both my kiddos really loved the computer time and the games that each subject offered.

--Time 4 Learning provided them with keyboarding and mousing practice that usually isn't a high priority in our house. I was really impressed with how easily Miss O was able to learn to use the mouse, and I think the wide mouse ranges Time 4 Learning builds in made it that much easier for her.

--Time 4 Learning is ad-free. Time 4 Learning is a safe place for your child where you know they will not be exposed to ads that you prefer they not see.

--For each subject, the child works through a series of different types of games, then at the end, Time 4 Learning has an idea button. When you click it, you are sent to a page that gives you ideas to extend the learning for your student outside of playing on the computer. I really liked this feature!

Cons:

--There were some stories or games that I felt were either a) lacking value or b) didn't provide enough feedback to the child. There were some games where the student has to choose between several options and each time they get answer wrong, that choice is eliminated. The only way to figure out the answer if the child truly did not know the information is by process of elimination. Then, even if they didn't get the answer until the very last choice, that game is marked at completed, even though if you are sitting with your child it is clear that the child did not understand the information.

--If you are really picky about how your child learns something (like reading or math), then Time 4 Learning may not be for you. The curriculum is not individualized, and you do not have a choice in how your child is learning the information. That being said, I would caution anyone who thinks that Time 4 Learning alone will teach their child all that they need to know; it is designed to enhance and supplement the education your child is already getting either at home, in preschool or both.

--Because Time 4 Learning is computer-based, there is a loss of "face time" with your child. Even if the both of you sit down and do it together, there is still less personal contact than if you were playing education games together rather than on the computer. That's not to say that there isn't value in letting preschoolers use the computer, but just to point out that one must moderate time spent on the computer with more personal face-to-face time with an adult or with other children.

Other than that, I thought Time 4 Learning was a really fun product! I know my kids would love to have a regular subscription to this site. I would be interested to see how the site works for older children, since my 1st grader was particularly motivated to learn whenever I suggested spending time on Time 4 Learning.

If you are interested in using Time 4 Learning with your preschooler, I encourage you to hop on over to their site and see what it's all about. There are demo lessons you can look over as well as an extensive FAQ page.


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