Monday, July 19, 2010

Time4Learning Review

I have to admit when I seen that Natalie at Mouse Grows Mouse Learns was doing a review for Time4Learning, I jumped strait over to see what this curriculum was all about. Yes, I signed up to do a review. I have to say right off the get go, I almost did not sign up as the trial version really did not peak my interest, but then I reminded myself “Do not judge a book by it’s cover.”

We were given a full month to evaluate the contents of their curriculum. It did take me a little bit to figure out Selena’s actual grade level. Once I got that figured out then we were on our way. The only draw back I found here is that Selena is Kindergarten for math, but her reading is in the First grade level, since you are blocked from doing both levels at one time, you have to change the grade level between the lower and upper grades. This made me wonder if at some point does this company plan on charge more for the upper levels?

What did I like about Time4Learning?

The content was a learning atmosphere instead of just a video type game. Everything did seem to flow from a beginner’s level on up to an advanced level.

I did find the Parents section a little confusing and must admit I had problems figuring out where you can go to assign an assignment for your child to do. The forum was very neatly organized, by grade level and topic.

What did I not like about Time4Learning?

I disagree with their claim to be a core curriculum. I went through the preschool curriculum, both levels and found it lacking in many concept areas that we covered last year through our workbook curriculum. As we worked through the Kindergarten section I found a lot of areas not touched on that I noticed from a glance at our Kindergarten curriculum. I felt many of the sections were way too short in their introduction of a concept. I did not spend any time in the Science area which I will cover in Selena’s over all reaction. I also didn’t spend a lot of time in the playground area.

Selena’s reaction:

Now Selena loves her computer time. At first she seemed to enjoy playing the games. She did however make numerous remarks in areas where she felt the material was too easy, or just plain lacking. For instance in the Kindergarten area of the reading, it flashes up a word, they ask a question, “Do you know what this is?” Selena immediately told me what the word was, then when the answer on the program said, “It is a word.” Selena rested her hands on her hips and announced, “Well, now I know it is a word, and it says this!” Another section she did not care for was what they called the matching area. After trying it a couple of times, she sighed and asked, “Is that all there is Grandma?” She made several of these type comments in the Math area as well. Over all she was disappointed in the experience.

While Selena was able to find her way around easily and followed the instructions of what to do in each lesson, she did get frustrated when she clicked on an area she had already done, and couldn’t figure out how to exit it without shutting down the entire program. Once I showed her how to exit out of the section, then that was all she wanted to do.

After one week of spending short periods of time on each subject area a day, Selena lost her enthusiasm for it. That is why I am posting my review before the entire month is up.  She seldom asked for it after that time, and when I did have it opened she would run over, “Oh my game!” but after seeing what it was would walk away. I thought maybe over the weekend we could get her engaged a little more, but that did not go well with her. That is why there is no pictures to go with this review and why I didn’t visit the science area or the playground area.  She just didn’t get that into this program long enough to take pictures.  Now any of you that read my blog know that Selena can spend hours playing on the computer, not that she gets to but she doesn’t lack for computer time nor ability, so this just was not a fit for her.

Another thing I noticed was there was no retention for Selena. After several days of working on some of the math concepts, adding the amount of seeds to the 10 to make a certain number like 13, 15, 18 she did not retain what she was suppose to be learning. We have worked on these concepts a little bit, so I know she understands the concept, but when I gave her a quiz she couldn’t remember what I was talking about when I referred to the Time4Learning games. Yet, when I reminded her what we had done using a manipulative she was then able to answer my questions perfectly. I did notice that some of the voices were annoying to her and many times she just did not clearly understand some of the words, which I had a hard time as well catching what they were saying especially in the rhyming sections.

Would I spend the $19.95 a month for this program?

No, I wouldn’t even if Selena did engage and enjoyed herself. I might consider joining and paying a one time fee for access to this program, but not a monthly fee. Then with the content, I probably would prefer to pick out my own supplemental curriculum, pay a one time cost then turn around and offer it in a giveaway or sell it in a used curriculum sale.

Now is it all a flop?

No, I would recommend this program as an extension to any curriculum, so long as you want to spend about an extra $240.00 per year for it. Oh, I did forget to mention they do have an option that if you are taking a vacation you can opt out and pay a lesser amount for those months. While I like the fact you can pay to have multiple children on this program, I feel they would be better off to group into one flat rate for more then one child, instead of the $14.95 per extra child. At this rate a large family would not be able to afford it at all. In my honest opinion though I think a one time licensing fee would probably be the best way to go all the way around. I do have to add that I felt a little concerned after signing up for the program, and logged Selena in for the first time. The fact that the password is so clearly seen was a red flag to me. I know they did this so children can see what they are typing, but yet is this really a safe way for a log in? I would much rather as a parent log my child on with a more secure log in system.

While I know many think that the New Age of schooling is going to be mostly virtual, I feel that this will never be the case as some people do not learn and retain information from the computer. Keeping in mind that every child has a different learning style, this online approach may work for some children, but some children would not benefit from it. You really need to weigh out your child’s learning style. Even if a child is so inclined to learn online, I think some more in depth material in these lessons would be beneficial. I believe that was what made Selena disengage from the program, just as she was catching onto what she was doing, that particular lesson was over, done, move on, so I think she just lost interest at that point.

I was not paid or compensated in anyway for my review from Time4Learning. My opinions come from our own experience and is my honest opinion.

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  1. Very thorough! I still think that there is a lot of goodness in them, but some of the core functionality from the user point of view is poorly executed. I didn't write yet about the goal setting/rewards abilities - unfortunately, here they are earning a solid F from me.

  2. Huh, glad I didn't go sign up to try it. I had a computer game I got asked to review, but never followed through with them because I didn't think my kids would enjoy it.

  3. Debbie, Kelly from One Little Room (Pathfinder) just pointed out to me to parent guides at - they are rather good. I wish they were more obvious to parents when they login. Check them out.

  4. I totally agree. We used Calvert last year and my dd did great! She's reading at a 3rd grade level (just started 1st grade)and made a 95 in math on her end of the year testing. We've been using time4learning for 10 days now and she's failing! She is frustrated with it and wants to go back to using Calvert. I think I'm going to cancel while I can still get my money back...