In December, we were given a free one-month subscription to Time4Learning, an online educational program, in exchange for an honest review. We subscribed to the Kindergarden and 2nd grade levels.
The timing of this review was perfect for us. We brought reading materials along with us on our trip, but relied solely on the program for everything else. Having something to keep us busy when we needed down time (or even just to kill time) was helpful. We were a bit disappointed that the Flash based application is incompatible with an iPad, which would have meant 2 kids could have been working at the same time.
In general, my feelings on this program are mixed. It was great for our purposes, the kids enjoyed it, and it covered interesting topics. I also felt, however, that it was graded down, over-animated, and not ultimately something I would pay for full time.
One of the things that was helpful in the program was access to the level above and below the assigned grade. Aidan, for example, had access to 1st, 2nd, & 3rd grade in each subject. This was especially helpful in math where we follow such a different schedule than a traditional education. We were able to move around and cover some basic things we haven't gotten to yet and just skip things like single and double digit math that we are way beyond.
I almost immediately felt that the program was graded too low. The first grade language arts was exactly the same sorts of phonics activities Caleb is doing in his Kindergarten work in another program. As a bit of an experiment (and with cooperation from a friend), I had a public school first grader look through some of the science and language activities as well. I asked her what she thought and she commented that it was fun, but she didn't really learn anything. That was sort of how I felt as well.
With the online activities, however, are sheets that can be printed off and worked on outside of the computer. In evaluating some of these, I come to the conclusion that they would help significantly raise the depth of the program. With the activity sheets, I can raise the program to the quality of a textbook based education, with the computer serving as the text and the supplements servings as the activities or workbooks. I believe as an enrichment program or an after-school supplement the computer based components can stand alone, but not as a full homeschool curriculum.
In my opinion, Time4Learning is most appropriate for families who do a large amount of traveling or school in non-standard settings (hospitals, a parent's office, etc), families looking for a fun supplement for a struggling learner, or an enrichment for an advanced learner (adjusted to the appropriate grade). I appreciated the opportunity to review this program and will keep it in mind if we find ourselves in the circumstance of needing a directed program. Subscriptions are available for short amounts of time, which makes the program friendly for morning sickness, maternity leave, travels, or post-house fire schooling!