Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our Time4Learning Curriculum Review

As September is drawing to a close I'm back to share our thoughts on the Time4Learning (T4L) Curriculum we've had the pleasure of reviewing this last month.

I have to admit, in the beginning, I was a little skeptical that this could be used as as a core homeschool curriculum. It seemed too fun!

Overview:
Our experience was with the 1st grade level lessons. I did poke around a bit in the grade above and below since you get access to 3 grade levels at a time. We started at the beginning and just worked our way through a month of lessons for Language Arts. She picked which Math Lessons interested her most, and for 1st grade Science and Social Studies lessons are few. (I believe this changes in higher grades) For us that was fine because we do so many field trips and activities that we really only do systematic work in Language Arts and Math for now.

What We Loved:
Kaibre loves how fun it is. She logs on chooses a subject, finds the arrow pointing to the next activity in the sequence, and she's off and running. I am not a planner and could not imagine having to write "lesson plans" so this is a life saver to me! The lessons are entertaining and some portions are actual games. Today Kaibre caught me peeking ahead at the lessons in the coming weeks and was so overcome with excitement that she "demanded" to play right then and there. It was an activity where she writes her own story using characters and settings from the related lesson story.

I love the simplicity and the fact that she wants to do the lessons. Every activity she attempts or completes is automatically logged and I can view her progress through the built in reporting system. Every week I export the report and save it to my computer. You have full control over the subjects and dates reflected in each report. This makes record-keeping a breeze!

I contacted customer service in the beginning to change Kaibre's password and the response time was very fast and from a real person! Later I had a few questions about billing and had the same quick friendly personalized response.

What We Liked:
To me T4L is a great blend of independent learning with parent interaction, at least at our grade level. Kaibre can call me over any time and ask a question or have a concept clarified. I also sit in for the progressive phonics story books that accompany each Language Arts unit.

I like that we can repeat anything we'd like or dance through previously mastered concepts. She also develops the sense of pride that comes from figuring something out and advancing to the next activity.

What We Didn't Like:
Occasionally the screen would go blank and Kaibre got pretty darn frustrated because she really liked doing the activities. I don't think this actually had anything to do with the software or T4L and once I updated Flash and restarted the browser everything seemed to work again. We were on a Mac computer using Firefox and the T4L site does state that it is not fully tested for Mac. Other than an occasional glitch here or there, everything worked fine.

The graphics on some lessons seemed a little dated, but didn't interfere with the message. There was one lesson that required too much reading, and did not seem appropriate for the grade level. So I sat through that one and read it to her. In the end it's fine though because my idea of homeschooling does not include my kid sitting on a computer for 4 hours with no interaction from me.

There is one feature I would add in the parent admin area. The ability to mark a lesson "complete" in order to skip it and to "re-assign" lessons that need review.

The Conclusion:
 As a work from home mom who's plate is already quite full, I had doubts if it could really be this simple. But it is! When I asked Kaibre in a very serious tone if she wanted to keep using Time4Learning, or if we should try something else after the 1 month review period ends, there there were tears at the very idea we wouldn't use it any more.

Subscriptions are $19.95/month but you can save some money with quarterly payments of $44.85 ($14.95/mo) or an annual payment of $169.95 ($14.16/mo).  We're going with the quarterly payment. I can see how this would be cost prohibitive for larger families, but for the ease of use and content offered we are really happy with the price.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Homeschool EdVenture Begins...

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for a month in exchange for a candid review. Their online program can be used for homeschool, as an after school tutorial and for summer learning. My opinion will be my own, so come back and read about my experience. You can write your own curriculum review, too!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Catching Up...

Hello readers...all two of ya, and that might even be a gross exaggeration ;)

We are still here in Southern California and it looks like we'll be staying! Jared's 6 month contract position was extended by one month, and then again by another month, but last week he transitioned into his permanent Field Engineer position with Mass Electric Construction Company.  He'll be working on a project in the heart of Los Angeles, 45 miles from where we are now. Were taking a leap and moving to that side of town at the end of June. Hopefully this will be the last move for a while!

It sure is exhausting looking for a place to live in the city.  Armed with GreatSchools.com, CrimeMapping.com and good ole Craigslist, we've narrowed down our search area and hope to find the perfect place soon. Rents are a little higher, and spaces a little smaller, but we're thinking it'll be fun to do the "city  thing" for a while, and then hopefully get out of California altogether.

Kindergarten is winding down this next week and Kaibre has lots of fun memories from her first year in school. Her class hatched chicks a couple of weeks ago and she begged me to let her have one. I explained to her that they don't stay babies forever and that pretty soon we'd have a chicken and wouldn't have any place to put it. On the day the final chick went it's new home she said to me with a bit of regret, "Mom, we could have had one of those chicks, because then when it grew up, we could just eat it." Five-year-olds are so fun!

Kenslie is TWO! She is so sweet and loving, in a way that makes her seem old and wise. Her hair is getting really blonde and her eyes are a stunning black. She's going to be a heart-breaker. I am so excited that she's finally potty trained- again. At 18 months she basically potty trained herself and I thought, I was off the hook. But then she got sick a few months later and relapsed to the point of no return, so we went back to Pull-Ups for a couple of months. I really hate diapers so I decided to try out this method I'd read about in an e-book. It worked quite well and we've been diaper-free day and night for almost a month!

I'll get some more back posts up soon, there are lots of things we've been doing this year. Stay tuned :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Christmas in California!





Snow in the Park


The city brought snow in for the day. So the kids could go sledding, and playing in the snow.





Halloween



Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving!


So we had the fun opportunity to take an AMTRAK train ride from our place outside LA to Tucson, AZ to spend time with ALL of Ang family for Thanksgiving this year. Here are some pics from our trip.