Sunday, February 20, 2011

Time 4 Learning Review

I had the opportunity to review Time 4 Learning. This is an online home school, after school, summer schooling program that includes Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and Math. You could use this as a supplement or a main curriculum for your student from preschool through middle school. I was able to sign up four students as part of the review program so I investigated four different grades of learning.

The program is very easy to navigate. You sign in and go to the subject of choice. Some of the lessons included audio and video. Some were more in a 'presentation' format. If a child reads, then they could do any of the activities independently. After you have completed a set number of minutes of work you can go to the games area. This amount of time can be set and changed by the parent. There is a lot of flexibility in how you set up the program including changing the grade level after you have purchased your pass.

There is a parent sign in section. This allows you to follow your child's progress and also change and individualize their lessons. There are a few of the videos that are closed captioned. Most are not but the fact that a some are shows me that they are working toward that end. Andrew was able to hear probably 70% of the audio of those lessons that were not captioned in some way. Many of the lessons also have visual information that follows (but does not caption) what is being said. If you have a hearing impaired child who is a good listener, it is do-able.

The program sells for $19.95 per month for the first child and $14.95 for each additional child.

Part of the reason I wanted to review this product was to see if Andrew could do some work independently on the computer. We had a bit of an issue that he is a 'clicker.' He just kept clicking away and would get two out of ten correct. He was distracted a bit by the presentation. Also of course, listening without captioning presented a need to increase his listening skills- not an easy task for him. Still we were able to use most of the lessons in some way but it did not afford ME the independence I desired in the program. I was picturing myself paying bills, doing dishes or going through the mail while he did this program. I had to be there to keep him on task much of the time. If you do not have a cyber wanderer, then you wouldn't have his issue.

Andrew is also very sporadic in his skills. On the plus side, I was able to identify some holes in his learning and attempt to fill them. On the minus side, there were a lot of holes. I am not sure what to make of this. If you don't follow a strict curriculum that follows the standard state (and we don't) then you will have holes. Of course this is ideal to fill those gaps if you have a child that works well with computer online lessons.

The nice part of Time 4 Learning is that you can see how the public school kids learn. Again.. the not so nice part is that many people who homeschool do so because public school has perhaps failed them in some way. I was lamenting to my mom (a retired school teacher) that Andrew's reading comprehension was very low as indicated on Time 4 Learning. My mom has seen my son's reading in action...and it is not an issue. Even thought she is 'Grandma' I don't think she was biased in her observation here. Not sure how to process this for myself at this time but we don't do standard 'reading' types of activities so for now I will just continue with what we have been doing and 're-test' at a later date.

One part of Time 4 Learning that is great is that it is self directed. You go at your own pace, you do what you want to do.. there is no 'order' to completion. You pick the topics you want, when you want them.

Andrew has some gaps when it comes to social studies and even science. However, when I look at what he does know, it just falls outside of what they 'typically' learn in elementary school. He has the periodic table memorized and will ask his dad about thermoplastics. He will dive head first into an interest or passion until he knows it as well as a high schooler. But that leaves 'gaps.' Surprisingly he was not upset when he would get a low percentage score on a test. In the past this has made him unglued. So that was a nice bonus to see. But he did not 'test' well in the lower grade subjects presented on Time 4 Learning. This doesn't bother me that much because we do have growth, but if I have to stand beside him to do the program, it somewhat defeats the purpose. So for him, it just didn't fly. Again, to reiterate, if you have a child who would work well with online lessons then this is deal to fill in those gaps.

I know MANY people that love Time 4 Learning. (You can google Time 4 Learning reviews and find quite a few online.) I have two friends that think this is the best thing since sliced bread. Their kids beg for it, they are independent on it and it works great. These are special needs kids as well. If you have a public school child this could be a great summer investment. Many people who homeschool have found this a wonderful program for their children. Some will use for a specific age / grade so that one child can be working on the computer while they do direct work with their other child(ren.)

If you have a blog you can request a month free in exchange for a review on your blog. I know people who do not have blogs who have requested this as well and have put their reviews on yahoo groups or other outlets. You can find that information here. I received a month of Time 4 Learning in exchange for my honest review. If you are at all interested, I suggest requesting a free trial.

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