Saturday, April 10, 2010

Time For Learning-Preschool edition

I am always amazed at the computer savviness of my youngest child. Aidan is 5 years old and although not completely literate, definitely computer literate. He navigates his favorite websites and can spend hours playing games. The computer, next to Legos, is his favorite toy. Many times, however, I find myself in a battle of wills with Aidan and his computer time. I wouldn't mind his favorite toy taking most of his time if I was assured it was well spent. Like his older siblings and mother, Aidan can easily fall into the trap of the "hypnotic passive stare"; a common side effect of too much screen time.

Lucky for Aidan, more computer time was required for him to help me with my review of Time 4 Learning's newest product created for students in pre-K. Time 4 Learning, an on-line curriculum designed for home education, provides pre-school activities completed on a home computer linked into the company's website. Aidan and I were given a FREE one month subscription to Time 4 Learning- PK edition in exchange for this review.

Our family was familiar with Time 4 Learning since reviewing the program last year for two elementary aged kids. At the time only limited portions of the Pre-school program were available. You can read that review here.

Time 4 Learning Pre-K is now a comprehensive pre-school curriculum with two different levels of ability with an average of 20 units per level. Time 4 Learning promises to be a "learning program that's fun and effective" providing a 100% satisfaction guarantee upon registering. In addition, Time 4 Learning placed in's top three "100 Educational Websites for 2009".

After assisting him with log in procedures, Aidan easily navigated through the program without supervision. Graphics and visual cues like a smiling happy face nodding yes or a frowning face nodding no are provided to aid the non-reader with screen selections. Aidan chose a topic to study, clicking on the graphic which matched the description. Each topic consisted of 4-5 different activities to explore and learn taking him approximately 4-5 mins. to complete each unit.

Aidan's first choice of topic was "Garden". Within the topic he was presented with the choices of "storybook", "patterns" or "paint it" activities. Clicking on "Storybook", for example, provided him with a listening activity as a brief storybook related to gardens was read to him. Words of the narration were displayed to encourage reading. Aidan easily clicked the mouse to turn pages of the e-story book.

One of my favorite activities Aidan participated in was called "Write It!". Pre-schoolers are guided through making choices in plot, setting or characters by answering a series of simple questions. The activity concludes with the new story "written" being read aloud to the child complete with illustrations.

"I like the 'make the story' activity because it is really exciting", shared Aidan.

Level two topics and activities of Time 4 Learning, pre-K edition are more involved and require greater critical thinking skills. For example, one activity, "Re-call" asked questions to demonstrate reading comprehension for the "Manners" unit of Level 2. The "Color Mixing" unit contained an activity allowing kids to virtually mix paint colors to create new ones. The newly mixed colors were expressed as round circles with eyes. They appear to be spray painted to life in a factory. I thought the graphics were adorable and held great kid appeal. I noted Aidan spent more time playing the paint game than he had with previous activities; meaning it captured and held his attention well.

From storybooks to games to ideas for parents to extend topics with pre-schoolers, Time 4
Learning has a lot to offer parents and pre-schoolers. Subscriptions cost $19.95 a month for the first child and $14.95 a month for the second child. Although I am not a huge fan of on-line curricula especially for pre-schoolers, I believe Time 4 Learning provides age appropriate, engaging and valuable activities for little ones in love with computer time. Customers interested, but not convinced may try a free demo of Time 4 Learning on the company website.

When asked for the final word, my little computer game consultant provided a high recommendation for Time 4 Learning- preK.

"It was very cool! I got to do the games and stuff and watch the shows".

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