09 December 2013

Review: Time 4 Learning

We've had the wonderful opportunity to review the online learning program Time 4 Learning for free for the past month. Thank you to the team. For those of you that don't know what it is, Time4Learning is an online educational program that can be used in many different ways. It can be supplemental for kids that go to public school, like summer work or extra work after school. It can be used as a full curriculum and/or supplement for homeschooling families.

I heard about it from my friends that use it for their homeschooling and that are in love with it. So I was curious. We are not lacking anything this year, but it is always wise to check out what is out there for future reference.

I am not a computer person and I sure do not want my kids to spend any more time in front of a screen. We LOVE books and our entire curriculum is book based. But sometimes, it is helpful to send them off to figure things out on their own. And the kids think it is a treat for them to be on the computer for learning.

My middle child used it as a preschooler, and my oldest as a third grader. Overall, we are very happy with what we have experienced. I was impressed with the program, as it not only covers subjects like English and Math, but also Science and Social Studies. It is possible to change grades after you signed your kids up, too. This is a nice feature when you have a kid that is not a great reader but is ahead in Science, for example.

As a mom that limits the use of technology in our house, I really loved the feature of setting a timer for the kids. The program is very easy to use, my four year old had no trouble getting from one place to another. I love that the instructions are read to her, so that I could set her up with the computer while tending to my older child and his lessons. I also love that she could see when she had completed a section - it made her feel accomplished and proud.

Now my third grader had more challenging tests and he got frustrated a few times, especially in Math when he came across something that he hadn't learned yet. Nonetheless, it is easy to get around for him, too. At his level, the program is also keeping records of the things he has started and finished. So as a parent, I could go in and see which lessons were not finished yet, where he had problems, and what we needed to talk about later.

The kids really enjoyed their time, even thought we only used it a few times, not every day. 

Subsequently, we will not use this as part of our curriculum for NOW. Partly, because we spent money for this year's curriculum and I want to use it all up before I spend more money for something else.
Here, I would like to mention what my friend has shared with me: the program is very affordable, and one very positive thing is that you pay monthly. No big payment at the beginning of the year (like I did) but monthly. And I can totally see that this is a plus.

Secondly, we are a Christian family and I like the idea of integrating our faith in every subject. I have not come across anything offending at all, but I have read about other people that did. So I am a bit worried about that if we were to use this as our only curriculum.

One reason for our family to home school is that we like to spend time with each other. I love to interact with the kids, teach them, and also jump in when I see a problem arising before it becomes frustration. I would be worried about them spending too much time in front of the screen. I'd rather see them with their noses in a book  for that same amount of time.

It is a great program, and even though it is not the right fit for our family at this time, we will come back to it in the future, maybe as a summer program or in the case that I should ever fall ill for a longer period of time.


Keri said...

Like your friend, we also use T4L and Love it! When we first tried this program out, I also had some of your same concerns. But, I figured since it is month to month and my kids liked it so much, we just give it a try and see how it would go. 4 years later, we are still using the program ;)
One tip that I would like to share with you (if you decided to try them later on), is if your concern is because this is a Secular program, that your worried it may teach something you disagree with (I am also a Christian), is to review the lesson's first. That is what I do with the Science Curriculum.
If I, for some reason, come across something that isn't what I approve of or want to teach my children at that point, I can just skip over it (or just opt out of that subject for that time and focus on the other subjects that they offer).
As far as my kids spending too much time in front of the screen? For our family, we chose to only do T4L in the Mornings. So, that way in the afternoon, we can focus on Unit Studies, reading, crafts, etc.
Anyways, I just thought I would share. Thanks for sharing your insight's too ;)