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Monday, April 9, 2012

Time 4 Learning Review

Time 4 Learning (T4L) generously offered a free month trial of their online curriculum in exchange for our honest review. It was a great learning experience and time to reflect on what really matters to me as I educate my children. So here it is - my honest review:

Each student has their own log-in. They can even “customize” their home page color. Once logged in they have access to all their subjects and tools. They can choose their subject and T4L keeps track of completed activities, even if they choose to do them out of order. There are guides in the parent section to help determine how many activities to do a day or week if you were using this all year. You have the flexibility to adjust each subject level independently for each student. Even after you have chosen the level there are three levels for each lesson, one higher and one lower if the student needs more help or more challenge on just one lesson. 
Their website has lots of helpful information for however you might want to use their program from a fun safe learning environment to full curriculum.

Things we liked:

  • The lessons are entertaining. Far more than mom ever is. 
  • My children enjoyed deciding what they wanted to work on first.
  • The playground J My children enjoyed the games. I enjoyed that it automatically shut down when their earned time is up. Parents set how much time they can earn and accumulate.
  • My children were always ready to start as soon as we finished Bible.
  • Reports give great information about each activity, even if it’s not a “scored” lesson. From the report you can click to open any activity to see their answers or to redo the activity.
  • If you are looking for help in specific areas you can look through the lessons and activities to choose ones for those areas.
  • It’s a safe site. Many of the games on the playground are elsewhere on the web, but you have to watch what ads pop up. T4L eliminates that issue.
  • The Odyssey Writer word processing tool. The students can do graphic organizers, note cards, and outlines. Their information is easily transfered between those formats as well as pasted into the body of their text.

Things we didn’t like:

  • It has a secular worldview. For science we did it together so we could discuss things contrary to what we believe. In the language arts and math lessons the humor was not always respectful, nothing repulsive, just not necessarily uplifting either.
  • The lessons are not mastery based. Once a lesson is completed the student moves on to the next one regardless of their score. The parent can go in and review their scores and lessons can be repeated.
  •  The lessons didn’t review previous material. If you were using this as a supplemental program this would be good because it focuses on just the skill of the lesson. Using it as the main curriculum would mean adding some daily review to be sure lessons learned are not lost.
  • Starting at level 3 Science and History are basically textbooks online. I have never been a fan of textbooks so this was not a good fit for us. There are suggestions and sometimes assignments for activities, as well as suggested reading. We did not make it to the library to check out any of the books recommended.

What I learned:

  • Having the computer as the teacher, even for part of the day, relieved pressure from my relationship with my son. He struggles with learning and I do not always have the patience I need. Having the computer do the correcting and reminding seems to have given him more emotional energy to deal with the rest of life better.
  • Mastery and review is important to me. Connecting history and science to life in a meaningful way is, too.  I’m thankful for the T4L trial. It provided some insight into making our home more peaceful.
  • I will be looking into other online programs for math and reading, at least for my son. They must focus on mastery and hopefully will incorporate review. I’ll let you know what I find and what I decide.

I welcome your feedback.

Do you use T4L? Feel free to share why and how it works for your family.
Do you use another online program? Why do you like it?


  1. Wow, you brought up some interesting points that I hadn't thought of in using T4L! My kids have been using T4L as their main curriculum for a while. For us our biggest issue is having a clear lesson plan that they can use to guide them. My kids will only do as much as they absolutely must. Typical pre-teens and teens.

    I love how frees me up to do other things. It's also great that they keep the records for me. I tend to forget to print them, but that is not a problem because you can always go back as far as you need and print from there.

    My oldest is getting ready to enter 9th grade, so I'm sad that T4L doesn't go all the way up to 12th. I will need to find something else for him soon.

    1. Hello Dee, I'm glad to see your comments. In my searching I have found there are many programs out there for all levels. Most offer free trials. I hope you find one that fits your son and family well. We're still looking and trying. I'll post on what I find, though my children are 10, 11, & 12 so my research may not be very helpful to you.