Sunday, December 14, 2008


Homeschool families have more curriculum options today than ever before. Some families use textbooks, some use literature, and some even use videos or DVDs for instruction. An additional option now available is to use the Internet for teaching and learning.

Time4Learning is an online education program that touts itself as a fully automated, fun, and complete curriculum for PreK-8th grades with lessons that are self-paced and correlate to all 50 State Standards. It covers four major school subjects: Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Over the last couple of months our family has been given the opportunity to try Time4Learning for ourselves.

Our final verdict: What she liked: Let me say right away that my daughter (a Kindergartner) loved Time4Learning. And why wouldn't she? It is a large collection of learning games filled with bright colors, animation, sound effects, and music. She thought they were fun and they built her confidence in a lot of the skills we are working on with other curricula. What she did not like: She had a bit of difficulty with clicking and dragging to play some games as she is still learning how to use a computer mouse. A few games were too intense for her--ones that had a beat-the-clock element. It was stressful for her, and she would ask to skip those. Sometimes she needed the directions reexplained and demonstrated a few times which would frustrate her. Overall, though, she enjoyed the games and would frequently ask to be allowed to log-on to Time4Learning.

And me? What I liked: Time4Learning has a ton--a TON--of stuff for the parents: lists of scope and sequence, lesson plans, answer keys, and extra printable materials to reinforce the online learning. I have the ability to log in to my daughter's account and see what activities she did, the date and time she did them, how she scored, and even how much total time she spent on the section. I can print all that information for record keeping purposes. I can customize the grade level she works at to match her abilities in each subject. I can set the minimum time she needs to spend on lessons and the maximum time she can spend playing games in the 'playground' area. What I did not like: I like technology as much as the next person (maybe even more), but I did not like the idea of my Kindergartner spending so much time on the computer. Some of the games were a bit loud for my taste and some seemed to be 'fluff'--more for the fun than for the learning.

As a primary source for teaching and learning, I would pass on Time4Learning, especially for someone so young, like my daughter. I prefer interaction, discussion, and conversation with her rather than having her stare at a computer screen clicking in answers for everything. I also cringe at the thought of delivering core subjects wrapped up in loud, flashy entertainment. As an occasional treat for fun, yes, Time4Learning has a lot of neat games that my daughter really enjoyed playing. As is the case with any curriculum, every family and every child has their unique needs. Time4Learning does help parents to keep a good record of what the child is doing within its online program and provides extra printable material for continuing learning offline. Children find it fun. And while it's not a great fit for our family, it may be for yours. Check out Time4Learning for yourself. The monthly fee is $19.95 for the first child and $14.95 for each additional child. There is a 14-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out risk free!

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