An Online Based Preschool Curriculum Option

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Sep 032010
 

I recently was given a month long subscription to Time4Learning to review. As I have a preschooler, I was reviewing the preschool section of this internet based curriculum.

Signing up my child to use the site was extremely easy. Just supply a name for them and a password, and then answer some basic questions about where they were at academically so the system could place them in the appropriate level. A confirmation email soon followed welcoming the Bugs as their newest student.

I don’t have a lot of experience when it comes to computer based learning. In fact, I normally shy away from things such as this, especially for children who are so young (Bugs isn’t quite yet four).

Time4Learning is totally web based.  In fact, it keeps track of your child’s progress, grades the work and does all the lesson planning for you.  In the preschool level, it works mainly with phonics and mathematics instruction and throws in some social studies and science for fun.  The lessons are animated. The child can work at his or her pace and even repeat lessons.  Mom or Dad can go in and see the lessons before the child completes them so they know what their child is to be doing.  The site does let you see demos of the lessons and the lesson plans before you decide to start the program to help you decide if this is right for your situation.  There is even a parent’s forum on the site for you to have online fellowship with other parents.  I did find their website very easy to navigate and it isn’t too overloading visually.  However, they don’t give you a price for the program up front (at the time of this writing $19.95 for the first student and $14.95 for each additional student).  They kept saying “low monthly price” on each page that I saw, until you click the tab to enroll.

Honestly, this program wasn’t a very good fit with our family. Finding the time to log on was a challenge itself (we tether to my husband’s blackberry for internet use). Then, while Bugs is on the computer, she just gets absorbed in it. While working she would get that glazed over look in her eyes that I’ve seen older children get when they have been using video games or other electronics for too long. Then, she would get frustrated when she couldn’t get the mouse to do exactly what she wanted (I will say that we have a touch pad mouse and she is normally very adept at using it for other things). Also, when using electronics for any length of time, Bugs gets very upset when I tell her it is time to turn it off and then has problems with doing anything else that doesn’t involve a screen. I do not like that in my child. Bugs also needs more concrete things to learn with. While she is an auditory learner, she still benefits greatly from having manipulatives and other activities to tie in to her learning. I find that easier to incorporate into our daily plans with math and phonics instead of doing a program like this, and then coming back and redoing those subjects later with the manipulatives. Also, at the end of our thirty day trial, there was no notice that the time was up. Most companies that I have had subscriptions for have sent an email two weeks before the subscription was up to warn me that I was about to expire, and then one the week it was set to. I had no warning that the time for use was about up. I don’t know if that is because I had the program for a month for this review, or if this is standard for all users. If you decide that this is the program for you, mark your calendar when your subscription is going to be up to guard against suddenly not being able to log your child(ren) in and then having your account deleted.

I can see how this program could be used successfully. If your child is needing extra reinforcement of learning basic phonics and math concepts, then maybe using this program to supplement will work for you. If you know that you are going to have a very busy time approaching (such as a family illness where you are taking care of them, you are sick yourself, or about to have a baby, or are having to travel for any reason) then this may be a good program for that time for you. You really don’t have to worry about the hard core lesson planning that a lot of other curriculums make you have to do. This is also very easy to transport and do anywhere you have an internet connection.

Tim4Learning, at the time of this post is 19.95 per month for the first child, and 14.95 per month for each additional child. With your paid subscription, they do offer a two week money back guarantee if it doesn’t work for you (not to be confused with a two week free trial.)

You can go here to see a list of others who also reviewed this product.

I was given a month long subscription to Time4Learning from Time4Learning as a part of The Old Schoolhouse’s Crew for the purposes of this review. All opinions included herein are mine and mine alone. No other compensation was received..