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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Time4Learning Review

We have spent the last month abandoning our curriculum in favor of the Time4Learning website. Since we started, we have had our ups and downs with the site. I will take you through the major highs and lows.
“Time4Learning is a new approach that takes advantage of today's technology. It's a convenient, online home education program that combines learning with fun educational teaching games.”

The Time4Learning site has an AMAZING Language Arts program. It is packed with interactive areas and fun, quirky characters that draw in students and teach difficult concepts like simile and prefixes.

The math program was a little less well done. There were a few lessons that had great energy and a fun approach but most were monotone and downright boring. During one lesson, my 5th grader had a hard time focusing because the tone of voice and repetitive nature of the lesson tuned him right out. There is also another issue with learning the material. If your student does not understand the concept being taught, the site only offers the ability to redo the same lesson. To me that is limiting as far as teaching is concerned. We found ourselves having to abandon the lesson provided in order to go into further depth on our own.

Social Studies and Science were hit and miss. There were some interactive areas but most of it was a lot of reading and quizzes toward the end. There was also no recourse to failing exams. The main circles are checked as completed and students move on—even with poor grades.

There is also an L.A. Extension area that offers more work on the above areas.

The one thing I was disappointed with was the complete lack of writing. Not typing, because there was plenty of that, but actual—old-fashioned, paper and pencil writing. My kids did not put pen to paper once the entire month. I think that is dangerous to encourage in young children. While technology is a great way to get children interested and engaged, it should not be used to replace a traditional curriculum and human interaction.

Buyer Beware: this program IS NOT a hands free comprehensive alternative.

“The online language arts and math comprise a comprehensive program for preschool, elementary school, and middle school. Science and social studies programs are provided as a free bonus for most grades.”

Here again I will state that the language arts program is the star. Math comes secondary and science and social studies seem almost a throw away to get you in the door. Many of these lessons are not well done, can be overly complicated, and left me scratching my head.

“Kids like using the computer to learn and to develop their skills. The Time4Learning educational teaching program gives students independence to progress at their own pace.”

This fact is true. I liked the ability for my students to move up or down one grade level so if a lesson was too tough, they could click the grade level below and choose something comparable there. Likewise, they could go up a level if they found something too simple (something not possible with our textbooks).

“Parents like that Time4Learning tracks progress and helps students advance along individualized learning paths. Students master the skills and concepts needed for academic success.”

I did enjoy the learning paths. I thought the site was very user friendly even for my preschooler. As far as mastering concepts, that did not happen 100% of the time solely based on the website. I had to step in on many occasions to explain ideas and find alternatives to examples given in order for my children to understand and engage.

Overall, I think this is a wonderful supplement for any home school program. It is up to the individual family however to decide if the cost outweighs the benefits. For me I think a better fit for our family is to purchase textbooks and supplement with free content on the internet. With that said, although we have been offered another free month with sign-up, we will be passing (and I cannot wait to jump back into our books).
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  1. We've used Time4Learning for almost four years now and have truly loved it. It's interesting, because the math is what we appreciate the most about the program. My son's standardized math scores went up by 15 points the first year we started with this curriculum! We've stuck with it almost completely because of the math. The writing assignments aren't pencil and paper, but are done on the built-in word processor in the language arts module. I actually preferred that because it is how they will do writing assignments in high school or college. Most schools now don't even accept pencil and paper submissions! We only ever used the science and social studies as a supplement, but we used the math and LA as our core. Great review!

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