It’s hard to work at home and homeschool and finding balance has been a bit of a challenge for me. However, about halfway through the year this year, I decided to try Time4Learning, an online curriculum for all grades. Since my boys are a tad obsessed with computers, I figured it might be a good way to get them the basics and then we could do other things on the side to reinforce the lessons.
Time4Learning covers all the main subjects, Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies. For older grades, they also have Art, but my boys are still too young for it. The interface is very easy to work with and Dorian is able to navigate by himself quite easily. You, as the parent, can set the amount of time the student has to work before they can use the playground, a section of the site that lets kids play mostly educational games. You can also set the playground time and it automatically switches off when the time is up.
Now that we have been using the site for several months, I figured I’d give a review of it.
- Tracking. Everything is tracked, from lessons the child has done to their quiz scores. This means you can print the records out and have transcripts for each year of school.
- Planning. You plan out the school year by entering dates and the system will let you know how many lessons in each subject need to be done on a weekly basis.
- Flexibility. You decide which subjects your child studies and whether this is a full time curriculum or just a supplemental one. If you just want to brush up on Math skills, you can easily do this.
- Clear explanations. One of the things I like best about this curriculum is that they have videos and characters to explain things to kids. They are shown the explanation again if they have trouble with one of the questions.
- Challenging. The stuff that Dorian is learning in Grade 2 is fairly advanced and it really challenges him to learn and pay attention, instead of just cruising, which he tends to do. However, you can also access one level above and one below the grade your child is studying at. So, if they are lacking some of the basics while in Grade 3, you can jump back to lessons in Grade 2. Or, if they need more stimulation, try Grade 4 lessons. This worked well for us in Science and Social Studies, since I had Dorian go back and do Grade 1 before doing the Grade 2 lessons. He finished both grades fairly quickly as they have fewer lessons.
- Rewards. Many of the questions are done like games, so kids get rewarded for doing well. It’s still learning, but it’s fun! Also, once the kid has done their schoolwork, they can go play in the Playground!
- Quizzes. I like that there are periodic tests to see how well kids are doing. Dorian has had to redo a couple of lessons because he did poorly on quizzes, showing me that he hadn’t properly learned everything.
- It’s not for everyone. Dorian does extremely well on Time4Learning. Dante did not do well. We tried it for a month (you get a free trial for 30 days), but it just wasn’t clicking for Dante and he was getting frustrated. He learns best right now with more active methods. However, this seems to be the best way for Dorian to learn.
- It’s not free. You pay $20 a month for the site, which is a little pricey, but still cheaper than sending him to school . . . or buying more expensive curriculum. If you have a second child, there is a discount for their account.
- The planner is still a work in progress. While the planner has recently been updated and is much nicer, it still shows the original plan you come up with. If you end up taking time off, your planner is not accurate anymore.
- You still need to do offline work. Sometimes, you have to print out a page of work for the kids to do. This is a bit of a pain and I could do without it, but it is good for them to work with a pen and paper, too.
- Skipping doesn’t work. You get a check on each lesson as you complete it. Unfortunately, if you decide to skip a lesson, the system will always jump back to that one and you have to manually find where you actually are. This means you have to go through all the lessons, even if you don’t really want to.
So far, this has proven to be an excellent solution for us. It allows me to focus on Dante’s learning or work while Dorian is getting school done. I’m always in the same room, so I can help him if he does get bogged down, which rarely happens. Dorian really seems to enjoy learning this way and I rarely hear complaints, which is amazing, since he detests having to interrupt his playing to get an education.
Also, since studying online, he’s boosted his reading skills quite a bit and is now reading at a Grade 2 level, which we weren’t sure he would be able to do just a few months ago. Definitely an improvement.
If you’re interested in trying out Time4Learning, they have a 30 day free trial, which you can access here. If you do decide to sign up, I’d appreciate it if you put my name (Genesis Davies) in the referral section, but it’s not mandatory.