It feels like it's been literally a blink of the eye and our month with Time4Learning is over. I still haven't finished my units for the upcoming school year, and I'm loving how they were coming together, but life sort of got away from me this month. On to my review; I am still trying to get my homeschooling 'year' together and I will be back to post soon...for really real this time.
So, I have the Toolman who is 3; I enrolled him in the preschool level on the Time4Learning website. My exuberant 4, almost 5 year old, I enrolled as kindergarten. They usually give you access to a level up and a level down (three total). I am guessing that starts at a higher level though, because Toolman had access to preK 1 and preK 2; Bounce had access to K and 1st. This was my first time allowing the Toolman computer time, so he is just learning how to use a mouse and navigate. Bounce is familiar with how to get around, how to play games, how to do lessons, etc on a computer program because he's been doing it for almost a year now.
I was impressed with how interested my kids were in the activities that were available. When we first logged in, it didn't seem like there was much content, but it became clear as we went on in the week that there was quite a bit. The only bummer is, that once my kids find something they like, they want to do it over and over again. I wish I could've seen more of the website, but I didn't want to spend my precious mommy/daddy hours playing preschool games on the computer. I suppose I could've though. They loved the stories in the preschool section, and Toolman fell in love with the 'paint' type game. Which, I must admit, kind of irritated the crazy frugal lady that lives inside me (Paint is FREE! Do something different while you have the chance!); I can't knock him for what he likes though. That boy likes paint.
Bounce was actually more interested in the preschool section than in K or 1st. The K and 1st activities were very structured like a lesson, and he knew it. I thought they were good though, and set up in a logical manner. He did pattern making games in math and quite a few different phonics lessons over the course of the month. He was always asking to go see Toolman's games though. They just appealed to him more. His favorite was a game where you chose colors to mix and then you see what the result is.
The website graphics are solid and the setup of the pages is nice and intuitive. I really liked that there is a parental option to set a minimum lesson time before your child can visit the "playroom" and you can also set a maximum time in the playroom. There is a countdown timer so your child can see how much time is left if they want. The playroom was my favorite part of the whole website. It is a child friendly page with links to games and other websites. The websites you can go to are limited through Time4Learning and are awesome like PBS' Clifford. It's a nice collection.
The things I didn't like so much: the voices they use often sounded lifeless and robotic. Not engaging at all. It reminded me of getting a crummy professor in college that you know you have to listen to every day for a semester and you dread it every day. When my kids turned certain games on, it would grate my nerves. I'm not sure that my kids cared. Also, I have something to compare it to. Which is unfortunate, because I really love the other program we use. My son has learned to read with it, so the phonics lessons I compared to that. Time4Learning's lessons were less exciting and engaging. By the end of the month, Bounce was asking to go back to his old program because he missed it.
The biggest drawback for me was the price. I paid $17.00 for the YEAR when I bought our current program through the homeschool co-op. TIme4Learning is $19.95 per MONTH or $239.40 per year. If I kept both kids on it for the year, it would run me an additional $14.95 per month or $418.80 total for the year. That would be my whole budget for the year, and I don't think it's extensive enough to use it alone for homeschooling. I would still have to include Bible and literature and hands on science and field trips; I would have no money to do so. Maybe if you planned on using it short term, it would work great for you.
So, I don't think we will be continuing using Time4Learning, but i enjoyed getting to sample a new web program. Toolman has his feet wet in the computer world now, and I think the concise directions the program gives helped him to really figure it out. I want to thank the company for letting my try it out and hopefully this review will help you decide if you want to give it a try yourself!
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