I came upon the opportunity to have a months free membership for Time4Learning.com. I had looked at this site a few times in the past year, but the expense outweighed my interest at the time. However, now that we have an almost 2 year old and a newborn, I really felt that I needed help to keep the older kids actively learning and leave me with a bit more time to manage our youngest children. Because of the free month, I signed up each of my oldest three children for an account.
Khali is in public school which left her little time to use the program, she did however enjoy 'playing' on the site. She is advanced in much of her education and enjoyed the ability to change skill levels as she needed. She found this site fun and easy to use. She compares it to the K12 online curriculum and thought they were very similar from the user stand point.
Porter is almost 8 and is learning mostly on a second grade level with his math skills being ahead. Once again, he was able to customize his learning to his abilities. He enjoyed that much of the learning is done through flash animation video's which are entertaining and captivating. The program is written so that the children must click continue to progress, so it demands their involvement and attention.
Isabella is 4 and would not be enrolled in any grade level yet, but was able to do much of the work on a 1st grade level. She did not have a hard time keeping up with the video's or understanding the layout of the program and was able to play along on her own most of the time.
I really enjoyed the learning my children were able to do through this program without my supervision. By utilizing the parent tools and lesson plans I was able to have knowledge of subjects prior to my children and have extra resources available such as books from the Library or additional websites. This easily allowed me and my children the opportunity to delve deeper into subjects they were interested in. While one child was taking his or her lessons, it was not unusual to have one or more children hanging around the computer listening to the lessons as well.
There were a few small issues I have with the site.
The login is annoying and never remembers you. Each log in requires you to enter your first and last name and password with no options to remember. This wasn't an issue for my older two, but caused delay with my 4 year old. If it could remember her login, or at the least use auto-fill once she started typing, she would have been able to get started on her own.
Some of the lessons were not narrated. I disliked this for both the 4 and 8 year old. I do not think most 1st graders would be able to read through the lesson with comprehension. My son will skip through the words picking out the ones he deems important and just click forward when allowed. Most lessons are fully narrated and you must listen to it in its entirety before continuing, this is preferable for me.
To check your child's progress, you must log in to their profiles and click on their backpack. I find this very public school oriented expecting the parent to check the child's backpack each night. While the system works, and I really appreciate the documented learning progress of my child, I really wish the site had a better tool written for the parents to use. I would prefer to be able to check on all of my children's progress from the parent/administration log-in.
By spending time on the lessons, your chlid earns time on the playground. This is a great way to let your child play games that are still aimed at learning, however as far as I can tell, once any of my kids clicked on a game in the playground for their earned 15 minutes, the site lost my child and they were then onto playing on PBS or another site. This left it on me to bring the children back from playing to learning, and they often had very long recesses!
Overall I felt that this was a positive addition to our homeschooling and will continue to use the product until I have more time to dedicate to my children's education.
**The author’s opinion is entirely her own, the content was not written byTime4Learning, but the writer was compensated.