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!

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.


Angela said...

You know price wise if that is all you're having to buy $170 a year doesn't seem like much. We bought sonlight our first year and with getting everything used it was around $300. This year we're reusing and I found the second half of the world history core for $10 without the books and plan to just get them at the library or paper back swap. Glad ya'll liked it!

angie said...

Very true. In fact if you just pay for the 3 quarters kids are "in school" It comes out to $135. To me, it's worth it, for simplicity despite the fact I won't be able to reuse anything. Of course there are additional funds we spend on field trips and other activities. But to me those are family expenses and not homeschool expenses.

FairyLover said...

Sounds like you really enjoy the program. We have been using time4learning for four years now and we still love it. You can just skip the lessons you don't want to do. We do this a lot. Especially in Language Arts Extensions where they read the same story five times. My son gets bored with it so we skip a lot of them. There is no way to reschedule the lessons, but it is easy to just go back over them as many times as you want. Just go to the little box that says Activity Finder. It's on the page with the backpack. Type the activity number in there and it will take you to that lesson. I do this whenever my son gets less than 70% on a lesson. If you join the Parent Forums, you will find all kinds of hints for handling things like this.

Good luck with this great program.

Breanna said...

home school! you're my hero! I don't work and can't find time to do any extra things, let alone take on my kids education. you're awesome.
hope jared is liking his new job