Time4Learning is an interactive online learning environment that incorporates Compass Learning Odyssey technology to teach pre-K – 8th grade students complete math and language arts courses, with additional units in science and social studies. This secular, research-based online program is aligned to state standards in all states and can be used as a core curriculum or for enrichment activities and supplementary material.
Time4Learning uses cartoons and animated videos to explain concepts, then students go through a related activity, game, or quiz to practice using the skill and assess their comprehension of the material. Printable worksheets and assignments help reinforce the lessons. Students access the lessons through the student launchpad, shown here.
The parent can log on to the student’s account and click on the backpack icon to access the student’s recent work and track progress, view any applicable quiz or activity scores, and generate and print reports. A timer that the parent can adjust counts down the minimum amount of time a student must work before a variety of online games in the Playground area of the program can be accessed.
My 7-year-old daughter eagerly did Time4Learning lessons in language arts, math, science, social studies, and LA extensions. I think the exercises are very well done at this level, with colorful, engaging graphics and fun lessons that keep kids’ attention and present the information clearly. The program is self-directed, and I let my daughter work at her own pace and choose whatever lessons she wanted to work on for the day, regardless of whether they came next in the suggested lesson order. Isabelle gave me her own review of Time 4 Learning: “It has fun games. I think that it has a lot of information and interesting characters, like Inspector Meas and Geo. I liked the story creator where you get to create your own story.”
The student can access the exercises for an entire grade level in the student launchpad, which might be distracting for some students and make it hard to stay on task. A parent can change the content to the level below or the level above to further individualize a program to the student’s needs. As students complete a lesson, it is marked with a checkmark, provided that they exit the lesson in the right place. An arrow indicates the next suggested lesson as the student progresses through the material. If parents want to preview each lesson, they can exit the activity from a different place so it won’t be marked as a completed activity when the student logs on. Parents can also access the lesson plans from the parent logon screen and have the student enter the lesson activity (LA) number that should be completed in his or her student launchpad. This is an example of the lesson plan descriptions for math.
We also signed up for a preschool account to use with my 3-year-old daughter, Jemma. In the preschool area, you can select from lessons in language arts and math as well as a PlayBox Theme Time area that features monthly and seasonal content. Jemma does not have mouse skills yet, so I sat with her during the lessons and helped her work through the activities. She enjoyed some of them but became bored with others and asked me to pick something new. I had trouble with the screen freezing up during some of the preschool lessons, and the sound quality in a few of the PlayBox Theme Time activities was poor. I found the character voices to be irritating, but they didn’t seem to bother Jemma! I wasn’t as impressed with the preschool activities as I was with the ones for my second grader. I also have trouble seeing a compelling reason to use a subscription-based computer curriculum to teach preschool concepts. For example, why would I use a computer program to teach my daughter the names of coins and tell her which ones have smooth edges when I could easily teach such a lesson in a real-world context using real coins?
Time4Learning also has a message board where parents can discuss how to best utilize Time4Learning and ask questions. The Time4Learning web site is packed with information about each level of the program, and I encourage you to take a look. You can walk through a simulation of the student launchpad on the Getting Started guide, which includes a brief tutorial on how to use the program. You can see a sample lesson plan here, and you can see lesson demos and take an online tour here.
Using a formal preschool curriculum on the computer for preschool doesn’t fit well with our family’s style of homeschooling, but I do think the independent-learning format of Time4Learning works well for my older daughter as a supplement to our regular home education. I recommend Time4Learning for home educators who prefer or don’t mind using a program with a secular bent as well as for public- or private-schooled students for enrichment or during school breaks.
Time4Learning is $19.95 per month, and no contract is required. Additional students in the same family can be added to your account for $14.95 per student. If you would like to test the program, a no-risk 14-day trial is also available. To see more reviews of Time4Learning, visit the TOS Crew blog.