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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Time 4 Learning

The kids and I got a free one month trial membership for Time 4 Learning.  It is a K-8 program that can be used as an actual homeschool curriculum, a supplement for "regular" school or even in the place of a summer school program to make sure the kidlets don't forget everything they learned during the school year.

This program has a wonderful Getting Started Guide that you should use before getting started....that I have to admit I did NOT use before I let the kids plunge in.  It goes through things like how to track your kids' progress (you actually check a little backpack - just like in "regular" school); lessons and planning; and tips for how to use the program.  Like I said, it is a wonderful resource....but I chose to let the kids just jump in and figure things out through trial and error.  It had nothing to do with laziness....I was trying to build character and problem solving skills.....ahem....

If you are a parent that doesn't just let the kids swim with the sharks, like me, they also have a Parent Forum that has lots of hints and tips for successfully using the program however you want to use as a supplement or a curriculum.

I used this program for A-man (1st grade), in the Lower Level (K-3rd) and for L-Girl (4th grade) and A-Girl (6th grade), in the Upper Level (4th-8th). 
See the cute little back pack in the top left corner?  That is where you can check their progress and how they are doing on their activities.
A-man's program has stuff like the usual, math,science, and language arts...but there are also "Extension" programs like studies on weather, pollution, planets, traveling, values, holidays, and early America. He also had Social Studies, which covers things like Wants and Needs, Comparing and Contrasting Locations, and Types of Jobs.  Here is a screen shot from the Language Arts page....

L-Girl and A-Girl have the same basic subjects available, but their "Extension" programs aren't quite as interesting sounding as A-man's.....theirs are things like:  Genres of Literature; Listening and Speaking Skills: and Grammar.  Now, their Social Studies options sound waaaay more interesting.  Stuff like:  Civilizations of India; Civilizations of Islam; Characteristics of your State; Rome; and Political Science.

Parent fact:  Parents can set a minimum lesson time for the kids and a maximum time limit for the playground.  The playground time default is 15 minutes and there is a clock counting down this time in the upper right corner.  There are six areas in the playground:  Action Games(with such things as the good old Asteroids and Pacman games!); Activities; Kid Places (like PBS Kids, Arthur, Cyberchase, etc.); Educational Games (in case you have one of those kids that just can't get enough of education!); Puzzlers and Two Player games.

Overall, we really liked Time 4 Learning.  I liked their little mascot/guide...a "mouse" named "Ed" ( I can only assume that Ed is short for Education).  You really could use Time 4 Learning as an actual full curriculum for school, if you don't mind the kids doing all of their work on the computer.  As a parent, you would still have control over their lesson plans and reports on how they were doing in each subject. 

I, personally, don't like my kids to  have too much  computer time.  Their personalities seem to change the more time they have on the that, I mean, that they get crabbier and meaner, the more "screen" time they have.  So, for me, I cannot foresee ever using computer based schooling for all subjects.

What I/We liked:  For us, Time 4 Learning worked well as a fun supplement.  Although we didn't use it every day, like it is recommended, I think the kids learned and had fun.  If I had tried this before we had our curriculum already set for the year, I may have used it in place of some of the workbook type activities that I have the kids doing. 

I also liked that the playground time was limited, because with 6 kids, I have a tendency to get distracted and lose track of how long people have been on-line....and I somehow always forget to set a this program did it for me....and from what I could see....there is NO way to stop the clock!  As a parent, you can change the amount of time permanently for a one-time only reward....or punishment.....whatever you may need!

Some things that my kids didn't like about this program:  A-girl and L-girl both thought that there was too much explanation of things before they could get to the "stuff" to do and that a lot of the playground games were geared towards younger kids.....which is probably why A-man liked this program better than the bigger kids. 

What I wish I had done differently:  I wish I would have spent some time at the start using the Getting Started Guide and setting up lesson plans and goals for the kids, rather than just letting them dive in.   I noticed that A-man was trying to just rush through his lessons to get to playground time, so, this might be something I should have made sure that I was sitting with him the entire lesson to make sure he was taking the time to read and follow directions and not just rushing to pick answers to get done.

Costs:  The cost for Time 4 Learning starts at $19.95 per month for one child, and then for each additional child after that is $14.95 a month.

You can visit Time 4 Learning and learn more about all of their programs and to see if it would be a good fit for your family.  There is a lot of information available on their site as well as the parent forum. 

My family received a one month trial membership for free, in exchange for an honest review of the product.