Tuesday, September 13, 2011

TOS Review - Time 4 Learning


Over the last month or so, we were given the opportunity to use the Time 4 Learning website in order to review it.  Landon was my main "guinea pig" for this website, reluctantly at first.

Time 4 Learning is an award-winning website providing comprehensive language arts and math programs for preschool through middle school, and science and social studies programs for many grade levels.  Users have access to three grade levels - one above and one below their current level.  Programs are customizable and detailed reporting is provided to assist you in record-keeping.

From the website:
The Time4Learning curriculum can be the foundation of a homeschool program. Many homeschool families use Time4Learning as core curriculum in one or more subjects. Others families use Time4Learning to supplement other homeschool curriculum with a fun, interactive reinforcement of the day's lessons. Families with children in public or private schools use Time4Learning afterschool as an alternative to tutoring, learning centers, or supplementary workbooks. Time4Learning is also popular as a summer skills sharpener or in place of attending summer school.

There is a LOT of material at Time 4 Learning - after all, it claims to be a full year's curriculum! - so I feel that we probably only scratched the surface, but we did our best to get a good look at each of the subject areas and be able to give a summary of as much as possible.

The first subject area Landon was interested in was Science (predictably!).  He is in Grade 7, but the Science programs are available only up until Grade 6 level so that's what we used.  The lessons covered Scientific Process, Matter, Energy, Botany, Electricity & Magnetism, Astronomy, The Human Body.  I thought it an interesting mix of scientific topics, since we usually study one branch of science in a school year (this year we are studying Ecology, so almost none of the material was directly related to the curriculum we happen to be using this year).  In most cases, we were able to do lessons in whatever order we preferred, so we could skip around if it suited our needs.  The science lessons were often presented in a story form, with very simple graphics.  Vocabulary words were highlighted so you could click on any unfamiliar word and hear it pronounced, and a definition given.  There is a comprehension quiz at the end of each lesson.  Landon had one complaint at this point - the quiz showed him which questions he got right and wrong, but did NOT show what the correct answer should have been.  I found a few references to evolution that I did not like, such as a page on Charles Darwin saying that he discovered a "truth" regarding evolution by natural selection; and a very confident claim that carbon-dating is constant and completely accurate.  This is misleading, at best, since it is not exactly true, and is a bias towards evolutionary theory.  These were just passing examples found in sections on Scientific Process and Astronomy, but sent up a red flag for what I might find in Biology or Geology lessons.

Next up was Social Studies.  The 7th Grade lesson plans covered the Age of Exploration, English Colonization, and American History from the Revolution through modern times.  Landon didn't spend time in this area himself, but I browsed around to get an idea of what the lessons were like.  The lessons covered lots of material, and from what I could tell, covered it thoroughly.  The lessons were presented using animations, and with some interactive activities interspersed with the reading screens.

Where Time 4 Learning really shines, in my opinion, is in the Language Arts and Math areas!  These lessons are presented with colorful graphics, quirky animated characters, and plenty of humour.  Landon said he found the 7th Grade Language Arts lessons he did  too easy, so we probably should have bumped him up to 8th Grade for those.  But I have to admit that *I* found the Game Show presentations engaging and fun to watch!  (The screen shot below is Third Grade)


Math lessons were also presented using animated characters and each practice problem featured an explanation for the correct solution, and immediate feedback for the student as to his answer being right or wrong, and why.  This material seemed to be on about the same grade level as the math textbook that Landon is working through.

Time 4 Learning offers detailed Progress Reports, which I did not make use of, simply because we were using it as a supplement.  If I was using this for our main curriculum, I would definitely be taking full advantage of these Reports to keep my job of record-keeping easy!


What We Liked Best:

  • quirky, entertaining animations and stories used for Math and Language Arts lessons

  • lots of Social Studies/History lessons!

  • super-easy to navigate lesson page for the student.

  • detailed progress reports

What We Weren't Crazy About:

  • subtle bias in favour of evolution.  This is clearly a secular website, and many Christian families (ours included) might be uncomfortable with the way some of the Science lessons are presented with this slant.   (I mention the references to Darwin and carbon-dating above)

  • The entire Human Body section in the sixth grade Science was about avoiding drugs, alcohol and tobacco.  Yes, that's important! And the lessons did present good health reasons for avoiding these substances, but that was the entire unit.  I thought it was rather narrow.  I assume that sections in the other grade levels might have covered broader health topics.

Conclusion - I loved the Language Arts and Math programs, and was very impressed with the high quality of everything I saw.  However, I had some mixed feelings about the Science program, and wouldn't want to purchase the product as a 'package deal' if I was only going to be using part of it.  The subscription price is more than I am personally willing to pay for what we would wind up using as a supplement to other curriculum we already use.  For families that want an online core curriculum, and don't have the same reservations I did about the secular content, Time 4 Learning might be an excellent option.

Would Time 4 Learning be a timely addition to your homeschool? Here's what you need to know:

Visit the website at:  http://www.time4learning.com/

The monthly membership is $19.95 for the first child and $14.95 for each additional child, with nothing else to buy.  The membership includes online curriculum for grades Pre-K through 8th, more than 1000 interactive and self-paced lessons, math and algebra tutorials, printable worksheets, detailed reporting, and much more.   Time4Learning is web based, so there is no software to download, no CDs and nothing additional to purchase. Members can access the program 24/7 from anywhere with a computer and an internet connection.


Visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog for more info and to read reviews from other Crew members.

Note: As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, we were provided with a subscription in exchange for our honest opinions.


Kristen said...

Great review! I'm not looking at the checklist, but I think you covered everything.

Andrea/Confessions of a Daydream Believer said...

Great review! We use T4L and I must agree with you, language and math are the best part of that program:-)

Rodna said...

I agree about the secular content. I found a lot of inappropriate content in the upper grades.

Christine said...

Good review! We liked LA best too!

Christina said...

I know that in the lower level Time 4 Learning says that it is mainly for math and LA, with the science and social studies portions being bonus material. It's too bad that it is set up this way because I think many homeschooling parents tend to run out of steam when it comes to the science and social studies subjects.

Jennifer said...

Thorough review. My son tried a younger version of this last year.

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