Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: Time 4 Learning

We've been reviewing T4L for the past month. All three of our children have explored a level:
  • J4- PK
  • R6- K 
  • C8- 2nd grade or level 2.
R6 is my visual learner and my wiggly worm. He felt each lesson was a game and never complained about lesson time with T4L! For someone like R6 who isn't yet ready to sit still, the format works perfectly. He would easily sit through 30 minutes without needing a break. Even though he never asked to play T4L, he always hopped right up to the computer to begin when I asked!

T4L gave two grade level options for language arts and math - K or 1. It's great having different grade level options as all children are on their own paths and pace of learning. We chose to explore the first three units of 1st grade Language Arts because R6 is already sounding out words. Here's an example of some of the lessons, um, games (wink, wink), R6 played.

Little ladybugs were used in a dunking game that R6 adored for finding the first, middle and last sounds in different words. The sounds were represented in sponge squares with smiley faces, not the letters which truly teaches children to use their ears! Having all the ladybugs in a row, waiting their turn was encouraging  because he knew how many turns he had left until the game was over. He would call out, "I only have three bugs left mom!"

The game was also self correcting. For example, if  R6 got an answer wrong, the circus ringmaster would say, "/e/ that's not the first sound in 'let'. Find the first sound in 'let'." Then the /e/ sound would disappear leaving two choices instead of all three.

The Army Sergeant in "Phonics Training Ground" was super fun too! You blend sounds to read words and choose the written word sounded out from two or three choices. Another game with the army guy uses tiles to spell - for example, /log/. Army guy would say "/log/" and R6 would place all three letters in the proper l-o-g order. Great spelling practice!!

Spaceman is a great sight words game also found in the Language Arts section. The game states commands like, "Listen for the word, then find it on the asteroids.  You need to collect rocks with just the right words." More examples are, "Yes that word is /went/, w-e-n-t"  or "That word is /on/." Find the word /is/ i-s." The space bar is used to shoot the right asteroid containing the matching sight word. Sometimes the timing of the space bar was a little off and would frustrate my little man a bit. But, he would hang in there to help Spaceman collect all the rock samples!

The only game he fussed about was the decoding story that is read aloud to him. He would zoom through it without really reading or listening to the program.

Overall, R6 found the games/lessons fun to play and I can see a marked improvement in R6's reading abilities in just one month. I have no doubt it's due to the extra time spent on  T4L reading games.

We didn't spend much time in T4L math, but R6 enjoyed those lessons because of the fun way they were represented. There were two levels to choose from - K and 1st. He stuck with the K lessons even though we are nearing the end of K. T4L was a very nice review for him.

As a teaching mom I enjoyed the independence R6 gained. I liked the lessons being explained for him and if needed, corrected as he played. With so many benefits to this program, I can see it being used as a stand alone reading and math program or using it as a supplement to R6's homeschool path. R6 would thrive with T4L being his only teacher, but I just can't do that....I will however be purchasing this program for him!

Second Grade
C8 enjoyed exploring all areas of level 2, especially the math component.  (She had three levels to choose from, 1st, 2nd and 3rd.) There were a few concepts we hadn't covered yet in our 2nd grade curriculum. Geo the robot did a very good job explaining those concepts with little video skits. I was quite impressed with this feature. Geo explains incorrect answers and elaborates at times on correct answers. There are also printable worksheets for further practice. T4L could be used as a stand alone math program, but again we used it as as a supplement which worked beautifully.  Occasionally there would be slips with the mouse to cause a little frustration but nothing a little break couldn't cure.

Science lessons would end with library book suggestions which I liked. There are also supplemental worksheets which is a nice feature. The lessons were all beneficial to C8 and provided value to her homeschooling. 

If there was a little down time in the evenings, C8 would sometimes ASK to play T4L. For a mom of three, I love that there is no prep work for me - she can just open the computer and go! C8 will tell you T4L is not a replacement for mom as she still prefers mom's lessons but she's happy with them being the occasional supplement. During the evening hours or while mom is busy with another child, C8 can use T4L for fun and to learn at the same time which is a great benefit for not only her, but her homeschooling mom as well.

There were many nice features that I didn't use but would be helpful. For example, you can pre-plan lessons you would like for your child to complete and those assignments will be visible for your child to choose. The record keeping is fabulous! You can print progress reports and graded quizzes your child completes.

I won't spend as much time reviewing the pre-k program, but do want to include my thoughts about T4L for this age group. J4 just turned four a couple of weeks ago. He played the preschool learning games with me nearby. This is his first attempt at using a computer mouse. (He's a pro with the iPad.) He did fabulously. We explored a few different lessons and he enjoyed them. He liked having computer time like his older brother and sister.

I took our laptop outside one afternoon and I let him try the matching component all by himself.

The pre-k program doesn't have the many reporting features of the grade levels beyond this level. It's not really needed in my opinion due to the  fact that users are very young. The program does have educational value and it was fun for J4 to feel like he was learning like his older brother and sister.

Extra Tidbits
T4Lis nice for traveling - no backpack full of books or trying to remember everything to take among many other worries. All you need is a computer and internet access. While visiting grandparents one weekend, (not expecting to do any formal schoolwork) the kids were able to explore on the T4L website during some downtime one hot afternoon. That was a very nice benefit.
There were subjects we didn't get around to really exploring - each grade level has many choices. Due to our own homeschool timeline we focused on the areas above. As with us, the many options within T4L will give homeschooling parents flexibility in using T4L in a way that best fits their homeschool needs. As mentioned earlier in this review, we used T4L as a supplement but I am confident it could be the core component of a homeschool plan if wanted.

Final Thoughts
As noted above, for a busy mom with three little ones the benefits are many! I can happily ask C8 or R6 to play T4L while I am needed somewhere else and know they are getting a quality lesson and enjoying their schooling at the same time.

I would encourage everyone to check out Time 4 Learning. Their website has so much wonderful information. Happy learning!

~ Hope

 *T4L gave us a one month free membership in return for agreeing to write an honest review at the end.


  1. My daughter uses the Upper Level (has for the last 3 years) and really likes it. I like that she has access to three grade levels!

    Glad to hear your kids all enjoyed using T4L. I think your review is very comprehensive. Thanks for sharing!

    Jackie ;)

    My Attempt at Blogging
    Quaint Scribbles and 3 D Learners

  2. Thank you, Jackie! I signed all three up for two more months of 'summer' review. Our 'summer' break began a month ago and will continue until July. They are all enjoying T4L.


Thanks for taking time to comment. I appreciate each and every one! =)