time4learning and I thought I would write a review about our experience with it so far. Time4learning is an online program for grades Pre-k to 8th grade. In the lower levels all the lessons are animated. In Pre-k 1 through 2nd grade pretty much everything is animated. I really like this because most of the time my kids don't really think of it as school, it's just fun computer time. Lily is using the Pre-k program. She has access to all of Pre-k 1 and all of Pre-k 2 lessons. The lessons cover things like the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, safety, manners, and so much more. There is a different topic for each week of school. One of the great things about Time4learning is that the parent has complete control of the program. There is a parent forum where parents can discuss and swap ideas. The way we use the program is I pretty much just turn Lily loose on it and let her do what she wants. She can jump between level 1 or level 2. She can repeat her favorite lessons as often as she wants or skip lessons that she doesn't want to do. I don't require her to do it everyday, some days she plays on it a long time, some days she doesn't play on it at all. Some of the other mothers on the forum have their child follow the sequence as it is laid out for them, and supplement the lessons with art, books, trips, crafts, etc. to coordinate with the topic they are learning that week. I think that would be a lot of fun, I just never get around to doing it.
Lacey started doing Time4learning in Kindergarten. So far she has done kindergarten and first grade and is working on second grade now. Another great thing about T4L is that when you pay for one grade level you actually get access to 3 grade levels. You get the grade below and the grade above. So if you pay for first grade you get kindergarten and second grade also! A lot of the lessons at this level are set up to either look like a cartoon that you watch or a game you play. Lacey loved the animated science lessons. She has learned so much. She can repeat lessons that she doesn't understand and sometimes, especially in math, I will let her skip a lesson and go back a couple of weeks later. One lesson I let her skip was the lesson on money. She really struggled with that lesson, so I just had her skip it. About a month later we went back to it and she flew right through it. Another great thing about T4L is that it grades all the work, has quizzes and tests that you can have your child do and grades those too. Again, you don't have to make them do the quizzes or tests. Lacey doesn't take all the quizzes in Science and Social Studies, but she does is Language Arts, Language Extensions and Math. If she doesn't pass something she can go back and repeat it or if she scored really low she can do the whole lesson over. There are lesson plans, reading lists and even spelling words. We don't use any of that, but it's nice to know we have access to it. I'm still pretty flexible with Lacey. She has to do computer work on computer days but I let her have a lot of breaks and if she really isn't in the mood to do something one day I will usually let her do it on the next computer day. We school year round so she has plenty of time to get through the lessons.
Kyle is in 5th grade. He started in 3rd grade on T4L. At 3rd grade the lessons start requiring more reading, but there are still a lot of it that is animated. One complaint I have now that he is in 5th grade is that he can't do some of the lessons unless he has the book that goes along with that lesson. The books are ones that you can usually check out at the library, but it still aggravates me. Up until 5th grade nothing else was required and I found that a lot easier. Now I gotta make sure I look over his lessons so that he will have the required book or let him skip the lesson. Sometimes though I will have him google the answers. I don't think of it as cheating, he is still learning the information plus he learns how to find information on the Internet. One of the lessons I let him do this on was a lesson about Thomas Jefferson. Another great thing about T4L is that you can generate all kinds of reports, attendance reports, grades, and even duration report, where you can see how long your child spent on each task. There is an icon on their desktop where they can check their grades and what work they have done. I am a lot stricter about Kyle's work than Lacey's. He has to do 1 lesson a day in each subject. If he finishes before three which he almost always does, I have him work extra.
Time4learning also offers an Art program. The Art program is free for the first six months then you have to pay extra for it and it's only offered for 3rd grade and up. The art lessons start with an animated introduction, then moves to a short history of the art concept being taught. They kids then can play one or two games that reinforce the lesson being taught. Finally, there is one or two options of art projects the kids can do.
We are blessed to live in Texas where no record keeping is required, but in states where you have to keep a record this program would be invaluable. You can just print off a weekly or even monthly report that would show how often the child logged in, what they worked on, and what grade they made. I love that T4L has their phone number right on their home page and when you call you actually get a live person that can help you. I have called dozens of times and never been on hold for more than a minute or so. The people in the office have always been helpful and friendly. This isn't a Christian program so I'm not thrilled with everything taught. Sometimes there are references to witches or evolution but it's not really an issue for us. Sonlight kind of taught us how to deal with such situations, so it's not a big deal. But I do want to mention it. Now for the price. It's very reasonable, twenty dollars a month for the first child and only fifteen for each child after that!