Time4Learning is a program that we have been familiar with since we started our homeschool journey four years ago. We used it as a supplement with our Kindergarten age child the first year and restarted it in 2nd grade when we had an illness in the family. At that time there was no preschool program available. I was excited to learn that Time4Learning had a Pre-K program and was excited to have the opportunity try it out as a review with our 3 year old son.
Time4Learning is an online learning system that is award-winning and available for students in grades Pre-K through High School. It provides a full curriculum that is web-based and student-focused. Being web-based means that students can access the program from anywhere, which is excellent for families that travel or those that want to be able to have the freedom to access from various locations. The student-focused nature of the program makes it fun for students to work on lessons with many games and other forms of learning that make it diverse and fun and keeps the program from being monotonous.
Time4Learning can be used a full curriculum, a supplement, or an afterschool program. Once placed in the right grade, students have access to one grade up and down for review purposes as well as being able to continue to move forward at their pace. Time4Learning K-8th grade includes English, Math, Social Studies and Science. High School offers courses in English, Math, Social Student, and Science as well as electives in Economics/Personal Finance and Health.
The Pre-K Program
The PreK program is set up a little differently than the older elementary grades. It is set up with two levels of themes and activities. PreK 1 and PreK 2 are both offered when signed up for the PreK program. They do not have to be worked in order and are set up in themes to be clicked on. Under each theme there are 4-5 activities offered to the student. These activities include Storybooks, Puzzles, Find It Games, Stories to Write, Memory Games and several other options. The number of activities and types of games and activities differ with the themes.
Meant for the pre-reader, the course is very user-friendly and intuitive. The program tells the child what to do and each item, when hovered over with the mouse, helps the child make the choice. The child is rewarded with a check mark as each activity is completed and then the theme is also checked off as the theme is completed. This makes it easy to tell where the child left off last time and what still needs to be completed. Some of the themes in PreK 1 include Colors, Rhymes, food, On the Farm, and the Human Face. Some of the themes included in the PreK 2 segment include Color Mixing, At the Library, Manners, Days of the Week, and Measuring. There are 20 lessons in PreK 1 and 21 lessons in PreK 2.
The length of time to complete the lesson or theme is different depending upon the child and how comfortable they are with the activities and games. The child is always offered the option to repeat a game or activity even if they have completed it successfully. Therefore if you child enjoyed a particular game they can play it again and again if they wish.
The program provides some great parental controls as well as a forum for parents using the program to discuss Time4Learning and its usage. The amount of time the student spends in the program is up to the parent and the student essentially. Parental control allow you to set the minimum amount of time your child must work in the lessons before they have access to the Playground. Then the parent can also set a maximum about of time a child can spend on Playground activities (from 0-59 minutes). Parents may also change the setting permanently or just for the day, which is a nice feature.
Parental control also allow you to change your billings information, your child’s grade level, your child’s account password and gives you the option to add students, convert to high school, go to monthly billing, place your account as dormant (for a small fee), or cancel your subscription. Students have access to one grade up and down as well as their grade at all times (except for PreK where it’s just PreK levels 1 and 2) but can be changed in parental controls permanently if the child is ready to advance to the next grade. The option to make your account is dormant allows parents to put their account on hold (for a small monthly fee) for a specified amount of time and then return to the program with the account right where it was left including progress, reports, and grades. This can be a great feature if you take some time off during the year, go on vacation, or have another reason you might want to take a break from Time4Learning.
How We Used It
My son was very excited to have the opportunity to learn with “Learning Mouse,” the mouse that welcomes the student to the Time4Learning student environment. Having used some other online programs with him, we knew that he loves online learning and computer games but definitely likes them to be interactive, easy to use, and not terribly repetitive. Time4Learning delivered this in spades. He did NOT get bored and was not disappointed.
After logging him in, he was able to manipulate the program effectively immediately and had very little learning curve with the program. It was very intuitive to use and the colorful environment with the variety of games made it fun. He did find one game he didn’t like and was tempted to try and skip but after some guidance with that particular game, he pushed through and has since not been so reluctant to play that game in subsequent themes.
We started him in PreK 1, though we have access to both levels, and worked through the lessons in order, though this is not required. The lessons, with 4-5 activities each, took him between 15 and 30 minutes to complete, depending upon whether he would repeat a game or not. I did not require him to repeat any games, but the program does offer each activity to be repeated to the student and sometimes he would repeat it on his own.
However, the PreK through 8th grade levels offers the reward of the Playground after the minimum lesson time, set by the parent, has been met. My son was motivated by this as he is rewarded with websites like PBS Kids and Disney Junior time periodically. These are just two of many, many sites available through the Playground environment. Therefore, he was motivated to move through his lessons to be able to go to the Playground. This was a motivating factor for my older daughter in the past as well.
We used it 3-6 days a week for 15-30 minutes completing 1 or 2 lessons (or themes) each time. Then he would head to the Playground for the maximum time I had set. He did try some of the new websites and games offered in the Playground. The Playground has age appropriate games, resources, and websites available in one place, including 2 player games and a variety of levels and subjects from math to foreign language to reading.
What I Thought
Having used some other online programs, I thought Time4Learning PreK is set up nicely for the pre-reader to work on developing skills. Some skills he has already mastered like colors and alphabet identification but the review was good and it was done in a way that I had not done hands-on. He is moving through the lessons easily but I feel, at his age, the review is good. He never complained that he had Time4Learning time and this says something positive about the program. It was easy for him to manage on his own once he was logged in and was excited to complete a lesson. The lesson time was appropriate for his age, I thought.
Having used Time4Learning in the past, I do know that there is a LOT more in the reporting section available for older grades than available in the PreK program. I do hope that they improve the reporting section for this PreK program. Though you can see what themes and units have been completed, how many times the child has accessed them, and when completed, there is no report of the percentage of the questions completed or an indication of whether the child mastered or failed a particular skill. Though I don’t know that “grades” per se are appropriate at the PreK stage, a percentage of right answers would be helpful for a parent in deciding whether a skill needs to be repeated and/or worked on outside the program.
The lesson plans that are available for all grades are available for PreK 1 and PreK 2; however, it shows that no activities are “graded” and there are no additional worksheets or printables available. These things are available and indicated in the lesson plans for high grade levels. The skills that each game works on in the theme are described in the lesson plans, which is good if you are trying to use as a supplement to work on a particular skill development.
Overall we liked the program a lot and plan to keep using it during our subscription period as a supplement. This will help us determine whether we will continue to renew our subscription in the future. So far I think my son would be disappointed to no longer have the program, but we’ll see if his interest continues over the first semester. I think this will be an excellent tool to give him some independent learning time when I can work with my older child on math or other subjects that need more attention from me or give me some time to take care of our new baby that should be arriving any day.
Check out the Time4Learning website and see lesson plans, sample lessons, and preschool scope and sequence. You can purchase Pre K-8th grade Time4Learning access for $19.95 per month for the first child and $14.95 per additional child. Each child must have his or her own account as it is automated and individually progressive. High school accounts are available for $30.00 per month per student which includes 4 courses. There are no contracts so you can start and stop anytime you want and Time4Learning offers a 14-day money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied or you find it is not the right fit for your child.