Jan 12, 2012

REVIEW: Time4Learning.com

As mentioned in my previous article Educational and Child-Safe Computer Sites, we've signed up at Time4Learning.com, hoping it could help us in our homeschooling.

Time4Learning is a paid site, $20 per month, or approximately Php900. We signed up because during the demo lesson, Josh enjoyed himself so much, he practically begged me to sign up so that he could keep taking more lessons. On my part, I gave in because I liked the idea of a computer giving lessons for me.

It's now been three days since we signed up.

Well designed

One thing I have to commend Time4Learning.com for is that the modules are really very well designed. Josh learned all about contractions, compound words, food chains, water cycles, adding three numbers, and a good number of other things, with very little mental anguish on his part and practically no effort on mine.

The lesson plans take a bit getting used to, but once you become familiar with how it works, it's quite easy to use. If you're following a set curriculum from a different curriculum provider, like we are, you can browse through the lesson plans to find the particular lesson required by your curriculum for the day, note the chapter and subchapter, and click the links to them quite easily.

One feature that I think would have been helpful for users in this situation is a search box, but I couldn't find one anywhere in the site, not even in the forums and in the site map.

If you are homeschooling independently, you could simply set your child free to roam through the subjects, with just the instruction that he needs to complete a certain number of activities per day. Modules that are completed are marked "Complete," so it's easy for you to check what modules your kid has already done and which are still pending.

There is also a reporting feature that lets you view what lessons and activities your child has done throughout the day, and what his or her scores in the exercises and quizzes were.

A record is kept by the system on your child's hours and dates of attendance, as well as activities and scores, so if you're independently homeschooling and need to keep a portfolio, this site would be well worth your money.

All or nothing

But after our two days of use, we cancelled our account with Time4Learning.com. Fortunately, the site has a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if you cancel your account within 14 days of activation, you get a 100% refund on your payment.

Last night, I received the email saying my refund has been processed and should appear in my account in five days max. I received the refund confirmation less than 24 hours after I cancelled my account.

Why did we cancel?

As I said, the site is great. It's fully featured, well designed.

It was too much of a good thing for me. It made the temptation to relegate all teaching to the computer. I missed teaching my boy -- but at $20 (or nearly Php1,000) per month, I felt obliged to maximize the benefit.

Do you see what my quandary was?

Then, too, there was for me the issue of paying for things we don't really need. Josh loves science so much, he would have learned the lessons from his own voracious reading, even without Time4Learning.com. The record-keeping feature was not of much use to me either because our family does not need a portfolio to get our kids' education validated. We are already enrolled with Kolbe Academy in Napa, CA, so that takes care of validation.

I couldn't shake the thought at the back of my mind that if I only got what I really needed from the site -- that is, the language and math lessons, without record keeping -- I may have needed to pay maybe just $10 per month.

But Time4Learning.com has no such options. It's all or nothing with them.

Recommendation

So would I recommend Time4Learning.com? Yes.

  • If you are a working mom with little time to teach your kids personally and want his or her computer time to be productive, or
  • If you're homeschooling independently and want an easy record-keeping system to prove that your child has, indeed, been spending a specific number of hours and days in school and that he or she is learning something during those times, or
  • If you feel that $20 per month is a small price to pay for the kind of academic mastery that Time4Learning.com will surely help your child to attain,
...if even just one of the abovementioned conditions apply to you, then I think you will be completely satisfied with Time4Learning.com. 

But if you're just looking for exercises to supplement the instruction you already personally give to your child, I would say you could check out the other sites I mentioned in Educational and Child-Safe Computer Sites, which also provide excellent (though not as well organized and not always as didactic) materials for free.

Incidentally, should this review encourage you to sign up for Time4Learning, would you please tell them that you were referred by Lucy Abigail "Abby" Sasscer, the person who had referred me? This would earn for one of her kids a free month of membership. Thank you so much!

DISCLOSURE: This review is not paid for in cash or in kind by any individual or organization, and certainly not by Time4Learning.com. However, if you have an account with them, reviews such as this will merit a $25 honorarium. In the interest of transparency, Time4Learning will require that you post a disclosure statement that you received such sum from the company.

Questions about Time4Learning.com that this post did not answer? Please feel free to ask in the comments below.

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