Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: Time 4 Learning

I recently had the opportunity to review an online curriculum source called "Time 4 Learning" for one month, with Melissa and Kelly.

Time 4 Learning is an integrated online course, designed for Preschool through 8th grade. When you sign your children up, you are given the option to place them at a lower elementary level, or an upper elementary level, which gives them access to several grade levels at once - typically their current grade level, as well as the one above and below it.  This ends up being helpful, as children typically have stronger and weaker subjects, and the varying levels allows them to work to their potential.

To see an overview of the curriculum, and what is offered at each grade level, click here.  While the focus of the curriculum is primarily on math and language arts, there is extra attention given to science and social studies lessons in the elementary grades. While I did not actually review the preschool materials, I did notice that there was a lot of extra lessons that concentrated on reading and phonics for that level.

One thing I saw that I really liked is that the Language Arts skill sheets are aligned with the science and social studies lessons, so that you as a teacher can make sure your student is reinforcing their concepts multiple times throughout their day.

There is also a "playground" with lots of fun games, that the students can play once they have completed a certain amount of time studying actual lessons.

There is no shortage of activities and "stuff to do" on this website. I could see how a student could easily spend hours on it. In fact, the site itself boasts over 1000+ multi-media activities for each grade level!

In the parent information, it says that this website could be used as a complete curriculum. I have to say I would disagree. I think it is more of a supplemental curriculum, or I also think it would be great for an "over the summer" activity for those homeschool families that take time off over the summer. It would even be great for traditionally schooled students to take advantage of over the summer to keep their skills sharp!  I just am not convinced that there is enough material here for our family personally to use it as a complete curriculum in and of itself. Yes, there is a lot of 'activity' but I feel that there is not enough repetition and mastery, and that the lessons give a good surface overview, but do not delve deeply enough into the subject matter.

That being said, since the website claims that all the lessons are aligned with state requirements, I focused on using the science and social studies lessons with Kelly, to prepare her for her upcoming standardized testing. I always feel like the kids need an extra boost in those areas, and I think the lessons we covered did well in keying in on the particular wording that she will find on the standardized tests.

As you use the curriculum, you will find it is very colorful and animated.  Here is a screen shot of an introduction to a science lesson:

My kids thought the animated children on the lessons looked a bit goofy. They didn't care much for that. I think they are used to a little more serious tone to most of their work, so they ended up treating this curriculum more like a game than serious study, which made it difficult to follow through on getting them to complete lessons.

As we went through the lessons, there was quite a lot of interaction for the student, and one thing I really liked was that every question had instant feedback telling the student whether their answer was correct.

Another thing I found really helpful is that each child has their own log in and password. Parents can also log in separately, and be able to see progress reports on each child. The progress reports for parents are very thorough, and cover in great detail what activities and lessons the student completed, as well as how they did on those.

So what does it cost?  A paid membership to the Time 4 Learning website includes a low monthly price for the first student, as well as a discounted price for each additional student from the same family.  You can have multiple students signed up under your one account, and be able to check up on all their work. As a parent/teacher, you can also create assignments for them, and there is even an option that I found where you can print out worksheets.

There is a 100% satisfaction guarantee, as well as a 14 day money back guarantee. There is no contract, and you can sign up for only one month, paying month to month. You do not have to sign up for an entire school year. With the 14 day money back guarantee, you can essentially "try the program out for free", as long as you decide whether you like it and want to continue or cancel within those first two weeks.

Will I continue my membership?  The short answer is that, while I enjoyed trying this out, I will not continue the membership beyond the one month trial for this review. I love that this program has so much to offer, and I think my kids would use it every so often when they feel like sitting around playing games on the computer, but we just don't have a need for it. I would only be using it as a supplement or extra practice, and the price is too steep for an 'extra' when there is so much free material available to use instead.

Also, unfortunately, the kids were not overly impressed with the program. Melissa only logged in once, and had quite a few issues finding her way around for some reason, and gave up on it. She could not be convinced to just "try it out again" although she did enjoy sitting with Kelly and watching some of the lessons Kelly completed. Kelly liked the idea of the site more than the actual sitting and doing. Some of the lessons just did not seem to captivate her attention, and I found myself sitting with her and going over the lessons with her, rather than her working independently on it the way it was intended to be. She also got frustrated with what seemed to be a technical quirk every time she logged on. Several times she would click the wrong thing and have to start over at the beginning of the lesson. Also, the program did not seem to run smoothly from lesson to quiz. Kelly only used it about twice a week, and it seems like all but one of those times had some sort of tech issue - either the lesson froze, she lost her work, or the worst insult - she completed a lesson (a prerequisite to playing on the virtual 'playground') and when she went to enter the playground, the program told her that she could not because she hadn't completed a lesson yet. UGH! She was very frustrated!

I have no way of knowing whether those issues were unique to my computer, or are problems with the program itself, but I do know that the girls quickly lost interest in the program, and did not find it as interesting as I thought they would initially.

I think this program would be great for a parent of a struggling learner, or as a supplement to an already existing solid curriculum. I think there is plenty of material there to justify becoming a member, although most families will probably find the cost somewhat prohibitive if they will only be using the program for supplemental purposes.

If you would like to check out Time 4 Learning and see a live demo,  you can click this link.

Thank you, Time 4 Learning, for giving me the opportunity to investigate your program!!
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own, and none of this review was written by Time4Learning or any of it's affiliates. I was given a one month free subscription to the Time4Learning website, for the purpose of writing this review. I was also monetarily compensated for my review. I was asked to give a candid opinion and was not required to write a positive review. To find out how to write a review post for Time4Learning, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!