Thursday, March 8, 2012

Our New Foundation: Time4Learning

About 2-3 months ago, I was pretty burnt out, and needed some help. The hubs kept bringing up the idea of sending Nevy to a charter school or something like that. He could see I needed a break. I knew this was just a phase. A moment that would pass. I knew we could make it through. I just needed some support and a helper. I had known a few families who had tried a web-based curriculum called Time4Learning. I went online and read some reviews, and decided to give it a try. There was a free trial period and I could cancel anytime, so I thought it would be great to give it a chance.

There was a learning curve the first couple of weeks. Nevy, who is 7, still needed me by her side. She was still gaining confidence in her reading skills, and needed my assistance in helping her read the tests questions to her and some of the modules. As far as navigating the modules, she did fantastic. She loved the characters on the modules and every day, she'd ask me, "When can I do school?!" She was so excited about the program. So, it didn't take long for her to fall in love with the program.

As for me, I was skeptical at first, but now I know it's a full time part of our homeschooling. At least for now. Let me start by giving a few points on the things that I love:

  • I love that I do not have to do very much pre-planning. The lessons are there. I do not have to prepare. This is really one of the breaks I was looking for. This is what I needed right now. I am so very thankful for that. 
  • I love how involved she gets when she is learning in her modules. I think the fun aspects to the lessons really do a great job at keeping her involved. 
  • She's learning a lot. I love how she incorporates her lessons into every day conversation, so that I can tell how much she's learning.
  • I like how I can view her progress online. 
  • She's gaining so much more confidence in reading. Before we started this program, it was a battle to get her to do any sort of independent reading. Now she reads by herself at least one hour every day. I believe a love for reading helps foster a love for learning and will really make an impact on how homeschooling works out for us. I am so thankful that this program did such a great job at this. 
  • She can do her lessons from anywhere. We've gone out of town, and she stays at her grandparent's houses regularly. It's so nice to know that she can work on her lessons no matter what my schedule looks like.
  • I like the worksheets that accompany the lessons. I was worried about Nevy doing a web-based curriculum, because I was afraid that she was not going to get enough practice in writing and off-line lessons. But the curriculum has printable worksheets that allow her to practice her writing and work on her lessons off of the computer. This has helped her tremendously. Now she is writing more and more on her own, and even keeping a journal. 
  • Time4Learning has online support forums where you can ask questions and discuss homeschool issues with other parents. This is a great support for me.

Some things that I don't like about the program (for Nevy. These things may not apply to every child):
  • Well, it's a web-based program. So she does spend quite a while in front of the computer. She started out spending about 4-5 hours trying to do just a few things, but now she has it worked out so that she can get her lessons finished in just around 40 minutes to an hour (which is what I was hoping for). 
  • She wonders. Time4Learning has a great concept of "Recess" where your child can take a break and go "play" online at an approved website, which is listed through the program. This option comes up after the parental-appointed amount of time. My daughter tends to get side tracked and sucked into the games. Time4Learning has the Recess timed through their program, but she will open a new window with the game and I walk in and realize she's been playing on some other website 15 minutes longer than her appointed time. This is simply something that I'll have to set better boundaries for. 
  • I wish the worksheets were easier to find. I may be doing something wrong, but currently it's a bit of work to figure out what worksheets to give her every week. As it is right now, it seems sort of difficult to figure out what pages to print out for her, since she is not old enough to print the pages on her own yet. 
  • I wish the tests and quizzes were all read aloud at her age level (at that she had that option, if needed). Every once in a while, there are words in the tests and quizzes that she just doesn't understand. 
  • This is an expensive program if you have more than one child in school. It's about 20 bux a month. Since I have 3 (soon to be 4) kids who will one day all be in school, it's overwhelming to think of what our monthly bill will be like. But as for now- I can handle the price for one child. I do wish it were more like $10 or $15/month. I could make a longer commitment and say, yes we will do this for quite some time, if it were that price. But we don't have cable, and we cut other corners so that we can make it happen right now. 
All in all, this program is doing exactly what I needed in this point in time. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I'm able to actually get everything accomplished in my household without feeling like one thing is being overlooked. This program is giving us opportunities to learn and explore other things with a lot more joy and I really appreciate that. I still have to supplement here and there to fit Nevy's needs but it is a great foundation for her daily education. And she loves it so much, she'd be torn up if we got rid of it! 

As a member of Time4Learning, I have been given the opportunity to review their program and share my experiences. While I was compensated, this review was not written or edited by Time4Learning and my opinion is entirely my own. For more information, check out their standards-based curriculum or learn how to write your own curriculum review.

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