Dec 132008
 
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Time4Learning is an on-line education program that offers instruction in reading, language arts, and math. It can be used as a core curriculum, for enrichment, or for remediation. Lessons are available from the preschool level all the way through middle school. In addition to the core subjects, there are also science and social studies enrichment activities for 1st though 7th grades.As I’ve explored Time4Learning, I have been impressed with the large number of lessons available. For example, the Kindergarten level language arts has 18 different chapters. Within each of these chapters, there are many activities. (199 total language arts activities to be exact)  Obviously, this is an extensive program and would take a long time to complete all the assignments. The parent can log-in and view an interactive list of all the lessons and accompanying activities. Since there are many levels available, the program can be customized to suit each individual child’s learning level. The parent can change the level of each subject, or for a permanent change, can ask the support staff at Time4Learning to change it. The student’s progress is recorded and is easy for the parent to access. I have been impressed with the support that was provided for using this program.The sign-up was easy. There is also a special hints page and a forum for parents to ask questions and “talk” with other people using Time4Learning.

The activities are fun and entertaining to the student. They usually include a cartoon-like character providing instruction. Many of the the chapters for the younger students also include songs. All of the chapters include ample instruction in navigating the page, enabling even the youngest students to work independently.

One of the potential problems that I have noticed is the lack of control over the order of completion of the modules. The parent can tell the student which lessons they would like them to study, but there is no provision for having the correct lesson automatically assigned to the student. It is also important for the student to exit the lesson properly in order to receive credit for completion of the lesson. We have had trouble with exiting the lessons the correct way, but I admittedly haven’t stressed the importance during our trial period. I am sure that this is a problem that could be corrected easily with a few minutes of training.

There are many reasons why a homeschooler might want to utilize an on-line program like Time4Learning. One is the need for independent work by the student.  For instance, in a home with many children it would be helpful to not have to teach all subjects to each student.  Or in a home where the teacher is also working from home, a computer learning program would allow the student to be more self-directed. Another reason that a computer-based learning program might be preferred is for a student who has difficulty with writing. In this case using the computer would provide a more effective evaluation of what the student is learning.

A lot of the choice of using on-line curriculum comes down to a matter of personal preference.  I personally am not fond of having children do a large proportion of their learning from a computer, though I do utilize it for enrichment activities.   I think that although entertaining, if a disproportionate amount of learning is from the computer, it can impede a child’s ability to learn to focus on things that don’t sing, dance or provide instant reinforcement.

I had one issue with Time4Learning in the upper elementary grades.  The cartoons contain some gross humor. There are bodily function jokes and other coarse joking that I don’t want to expose my children to on a daily basis. Most concerning to me was the taking of the Lord’s name in vain in a section my 5th grader was studying about idioms. (It had nothing to do with idioms, it was just a conversation between the characters.) I know that different families have different standards, but I couldn’t neglect to mention that for those who might also be concerned.

If you would like to see a sample of Time4Learning there is a demo available here.  If you’re interested in seeing more, they also offer a two-week risk-free money back guarantee. The monthly membership fee is $19.95 for the first child and $14.95 for each additional child.  At the time of sign-up, a recurring monthly payment is set up.  Members can cancel at any time.

Be sure to go The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew Blog to read more reviews on this and many other products for your homeschool.

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