Saturday, September 10, 2011

Time 4 Learning/ TOS Review


Time 4 Learning is an online home education program. It can be used by homeschoolers or as an after school reinforcement program.

It can be use for grades Pre-K through 8th.

*The subjects it covers are:

Language Arts/English
Social Studies

*How it works:

Your child logs into his account and will find his homepage.

Your child gets to decide what topic he would like to cover first. (Unless you are letting him know what to do.)

Once he chooses a topic, it will open up a new screen. 

Let's say he chose Science. This is the screen that would come up. 

Now, the child can choose which subtopic he wants to learn about. OR he can follow the arrow and go in order, which is probably what you are supposed to do, but we just chose what we wanted to. :)

As you can see in the above snapshot, my son completed the Surfaces of the Earth category. 

Let me show you what a lesson in science for the 1st grade level looks like. 

It is really difficult to show you what a lesson looks like without the audio and video, but in between these two snapshots, the 2 kids were talking about the surface of the earth. A mini lesson per say.

In this particular area it teaches a lesson, and then asks the kids questions. Here, the program does read the questions out loud, and has a repeat button if the child needs to hear it again. In some areas/levels, it does not read the question out loud. 

The lessons are pretty short, maybe about 10 minutes. Once your child is done with one lesson they can go on to another topic. 

The older child's lessons are very similar. 

They will also sign into their main page. 

Choose a topic. 

Choose a subtopic.

As you can see here, my daughter didn't go in order either. lol

I am going to show you a sample of the Science lessons in the upper level as well, so you can get a good comparison. 

I am also going to get into some of the issues that I have with this program here, because this is where some of them crept up. 

 As you can see the upper levels are no longer as animated, nor read out loud anymore.

If you look carefully in the green Clever Columbus box, you can see that it is talking about Columbus using magic to trick the natives, saying that he claimed to have magical powers. I don't know if this story is true or not, but I didn't care for my daughter reading it, that's for sure. 

It has never come up in any of our other books about Columbus, but we do tend to use Christian resources.

In this clip you can see that it makes a note to werewolves. Why? There is no need for that. (In my opinion) I mean, are any of our children werewolves? Who is it talking to?

OK, here is where I really started to get upset. This lesson actually tells the kids to try some magic, and tells them to "In a low, serious voice, chant the following mystical incantation; Umbra, Penumbra! Umbra Penumbra!"

It does go on to ask whether or not anything happened, and then says magic is not all it is cracked up to be, but seriously, come on. This just frustrates me. I don't want my kids reading about magic like this.

I am not opposed to some magical things like Narnia for instance, but this is just nonsense. This is why I stick to Christian curriculum.

Anyhow, after your child has finished his lesson, there is a series of questions for him to answer. Below is an example.

 After the lesson is complete there is also a quiz.

OK, now on to the other subjects...

I am going to start out with my son, 6. 

He has done some of every subject. The very first thing we did on Time 4 Learning was the Social Studies. 

I was very disappointed. He was learning about how it is good to do your chores, and was learning about Firefighters, police Officers, and Nurses.

Don't get me wrong these are good things, but what they were teaching was really babyish. 

They had a little lesson on profession, and then asked questions like, "Which one puts out fires?", or "Which one gives medicine?"

This would be OK if it were on a Pre-K or K level, but this was 2nd grade!

Same thing for the chores. I don't need my kids to sit in front of a computer to learn that it is good to do their chores. You know what I mean?

As far as the math and LA goes, my son just didn't want to do them. Everything that we did do, he thought was very babyish. 

Now for my daughter, 14, there were things that she enjoyed, and things that she didn't. 

As far as the science goes, I already talked about that earlier in my review, and as you know there were things mentioned that I didn't care for. So honestly, we didn't do much more science. 

She didn't care for the math. She thought it was a little boring. 

Now, she actually like the LA program. She really liked the way they did the summarizing. 

The problem for us both was the fact that a lot of the articles that she was supposed to read to summarize were not appropriate for our family, or just plain weird.

For instance, in one of the writing lessons about summarizing, the article was about how teens should go to the internet if they have embarrassing or awkward questions. UH NO! 

My daughter said it made it seem like it is OK to just get on the internet and look up stuff and not have to ask your parents.

I was really appalled at the article. It really sounded as if it were telling our kids not to go to their parents. It said if you have an awkward question, or to avoid embarrassment, go to the internet. I couldn't believe it.

It also said in one spot: "Since water was so important, the people of the southwest performed ceremonies and dances to keep the spirits happy, to bring rain and have a good harvest."

And when she opened up another writing lesson to show her dad, it was talking about how there were were two guys who were at a dance fighting over the same girl.

I had just had enough.

Some of the other topics that were not necessarily bad were just weird, at least for my daughter and I.

In one area it called geese evil, said the ice age occurred between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago, and had pictures of a cave girl.  It also talked about cloning and how they are keeping the DNA of animals to save the animals in the future. Another was about aliens. Just weird stuff. Nothing that interesting or educational.

And to top it off the topics were not on grade level, in my opinion.

Part of the problem with that is that even though Time 4 Learning says it goes up to 8th grade, it does not do so in all subjects.

For instance Science only goes up to grade 6, and Social Studies goes up to grade 7. So really only the LA and math go up to 8th grade. I am not sure why this is.

Here is a quote from the 6th grade Social Studies:

"The area of the North was very cold and icy. For shelter during the winter the groups built igloos and houses made out of ice; to keep warm they burn lamps filled with seal oil. They used furs to make warm clothes and seal skins to make water proof boots."

My 6 year old can understand this. He might not could read it, but he could comprehend it. Most of the Social Studies lessons were like this. At least the ones we saw.

Things just don't seem on grade level to me. Now I am not one to care about grade level at all, but things just seem to be way below grade level. 

I know many people who love this program, so keep in mind that we all have different opinions on what is good for our families, on grade level, etc.

I just feel like I need to express my honest feelings when I review a product.

I can see how this would be a fun after school program. I would just think you need to be careful if you prefer a Christian curriculum. There are things that won't line up with your beliefs.

I don't feel like I could just let my kids do this alone.

Now there were lessons that were good, please don't get me wrong. For me there just too many that I didn't care for to be comfortable with this program.

It is nice that I can log in to my parents page and see what the kids have been doing.

I also like that you can raise or lower the grade level, and that you can set time limits.

You can set a minimum time limit that they need to be doing lessons, or a maximum time limit they can play on the playground. (Basically arcade type games)

This is one of those programs that I can't tell you whether or not you would like it or not.

You can purchase a subscription for $19.95 / Month for Your First Child and $14.95 / Month for Each Additional Child!

The good thing is that if you are interested in Time 4 Learning you can try it out for free for 30 days in return for an honest review on your blog.

This would be a great way to see if it is right for your family or not.

Thanks for sticking with me on this review. I know it was a long one. :)

Be sure to read what my fellow Crew Mates thought of Time 4 Learning.

*I have received a 30 day trial, free, as a member of the TOS Crew in return for my honest opinion. No other compensation has been given to me.*


Mozi Esmé said...

Very interesting review! Thanks for sharing your issues with the science section. We didn't find anything like that in what we went through, so I appreciate the heads-up. Science was actually my favorite of the sections.

I also grinned at your observation about being below grade level. Here I was thinking my 4yo was a genius! :) Seriously, K-level bored her to tears; we did all of Grade 1 science in a handful of days; Grade 2 was just about right and we could spend a whole lot more time there if we had it.

Very Blessed Mamma said...

This review was hard for me to write because I had some really strong feelings about some of the things that came up in our lessons.

I couldn't NOT say anything about them, but also wanted to try to find some good as well.

It just wasn't for us.

Rebecca said...

GREAT review.....Could be a good program...but, I found the same issues....after I wrote my initial review last year. You are a very careful parent and I applaud you for that! I am still watch for the hidden untruths...that are no longer...hidden!

Very Blessed Mamma said...

Thank you Rebecca. I really appreciate it. I have been a bundle of nerves actually posting my review.

Our Peculiar Lives said...

Wow, we didn't notice anything like that in the lower levels that we did. :( Good to know. Thank you for sharing!

Our Homeschool Reviews said...

You did a great review! We covered mostly LA since my dd did not like the math and science as much. I will say that the same Columbus story was in a book we read last year for Heart of Dakota. The book is called Columbus by Ingri & Edgar Parin D'Aulaire (had to go and find it). The Indians refused to bring the the sailors any more food so Columbus tricked them into thinking he could perform "magic" on the moon. At the time the sailors were actually marooned on an island and their ship was wrecked so they would have died otherwise (I guess making it an important story). But I do agree with you. We can always pre-read books, but it is harder to know what kinds of stories are included in online curriculum like this.

Anna said...

It is hard to review products that dont work but you did good. We also did the lower levels so didn't run into any of those issues, though I suppose thinking about it, I had bumped up what level they were one due to us running a Jan-Nov school year. It's so normal for us to be slightly ahead that it never even ocurred to me to talk about it being a bit below level. In a way I am glad I didnt have to review the upper levels as I am sure that it was very difficult.

Kayla said...

That was interesting. My 13 year old didn't use this one at I didn't get into a lot of the older curriculum. But my girls (11 and 9) didn't like it as much as my 6 year old....maybe it was a grade level thing. I kind of had a sense that I shouldn't let them do their lessons alone....but the reality was that many times they I guess I should listen to that still, small voice, huh? Stopping by from the crew...

Heather @ Marine Corps Nomads said...

It also said in one spot: "Since water was so important, the people of the southwest performed ceremonies and dances to keep the spirits happy, to bring rain and have a good harvest."

While I understand you didn't like this part, it is completely true. They did do this because they believed in spirits/gods, so it's a part of the history of this area.

The story about Columbus is in quite a few books - Christian and non-Christian.

The study of chores/social responsibility and professions is actually pretty common in public schools during the lower elementary years, so while it may seem childish/unnecessary to us, it's on target with what kids are learning.

All that being said, I totally appreciated the thorough review. I know it's not easy to write a review when there are so many things that you don't agree with in the curriculum.

Very Blessed Mamma said...

Heather, you are right that some of it may be in other books, but if it were, i am usually reading them to the kids, and would skip those things.

It was harder to skip with this program.

I know we all feel differently about things, so it is good that we can respect each other.

Yes, it was hard to write. There was more that I could have written, but I held back. lol

Debra said...

Very thorough.

I do have to say, though, that I have seen that Columbus story in a few places -- all recommended by Christian curriculum (or in the curriculum) so I guess that would never have phased me.

I don't love the older grades of Time4Learning. But I do like a lot of the stuff in the K-about 5th programs.

Very Blessed Mamma said...

Debra, I guess I have just never heard it before, and really that wasn't all that bad. I think that for me there just seemed to be too many things, that all together they all just seemed like too much.

I found many other references to magic and stuff, so perhaps i shouldn't have included that one, but I think there was just too much.

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