Today, I’m going to give a review of the online curriculum that we use for homeschooling: Time4Learning. We are using the high school curriculum, but curricula are available from Kindergarten through 12th grades.
I did a great deal of research before deciding to use Time4Learning. A friend of mine had recently chosen it for her daughter, who is also in the 9th grade, so I had an idea about it before I began my research. But, as with all other things I research, I simply had to do all of the digging I could to make sure there wasn’t something better out there for our own personal situation. And overall, so far as my research could find, there isn’t a better one than Time4Learning.
The first thing to keep in mind with Time4Learning is that it is an on-line curriculum only, not an actual online school. Whether or not that curriculum meets the state standards in your home state is up to you to find out. You are considered the teacher of record and it is up to you to grade assignments that are not calculated through the curriculum itself, like writing exercises and so forth. It is also up to you to keep accurate academic and attendance records as well, as per your state requirements.
One of the main reasons I chose Time4Learning was the ability to pay monthly. With their low rates – $19.95 for PreK through 8th and $30 for high school – there just wasn’t a better option. There are some schools online that are “the whole package”, meaning they are an actual school, they will grade all the assignments, keep track of attendance, and transfer credits if need be. However, these schools have to have the full tuition up front, or payment schedules with approved credit and so forth. Just not the kind of hassle I wanted to go through to get this all set up.
And besides, what if it didn’t work for us? Our daughter is a right-brain learner, which means she’s a very visual learner, and without anything up front from these other schools, I didn’t want to take that kind of chance and be out all that money. Because we’re talking thousands of dollars per year.
With Time4Learning, you actually get the opportunity to see demos of every single class that they offer before paying a single dime. This was another major thing that helped me make my decision. We really liked the way the classes were laid out and how the quizzes were given and it helped us make a truly informed decision. Before purchasing the curriculum, I was also able to chat live, one on one, with a representative as well as email some questions that were promptly answered by the great support staff.
Now that we have been using the curriculum and getting actual hands-on experience with it, I have an even better picture of the whole scope of the program. And here is what I’ve found.
So, after you’ve paid for the first month, you immediately have access to a whole gamut of parent tools…
I went through each and every one of these options with a fine tooth comb before actually setting out to create our own plan. I wanted to familiarize myself with what was available well before we actually started school. However, you don’t want to pay for your curriculum too early. Two to three days ahead will give you more than enough time to familiarize yourself with everything, it’s just that easy to navigate.
After I had found out what was relevant and what wasn’t, for instance we didn’t need a spelling list, I went on to create a student planner. I absolutely LOVE this aspect. You choose which classes you want and then you can enter a starting date and a finishing date, as well as any breaks you plan to take through the school year, and the program sorts every single lesson into weekly assignments. All you have left to do at that point is to select which activities you will do daily.
Here is an example from our Government class. You can see that this week’s lessons are laid out, all I have to do is choose which day I want to assign each item, which I do with the drop down menu, and then you can check it off as done. There is also a place to the side for notes, though I haven’t utilized that very much, personally.
This is a great way to see if you’ve missed anything. We have actually had missing assignments and can go back to see, at a glance, what they are so that we can get them done and get back to the normal routine.
After a few days, you will want to take a look at your report screen. This tool is incredibly valuable to me as I can quickly see every assignment my daughter has completed, as well as quiz scores, and I input that information into my personal grade book. There are also reports for duration, which tells you the time the student has spent on each assignment, and attendance, which basically just tells you when they signed in and out.
Here’s what the report screen looks like. Notice the drop down menu on the left – that is where you choose which report you’d like, and then it offers other drop down menus based on your selection.
I will say here that you do have to be careful with the attendance report. It isn’t always accurate. I’m not sure why, and I haven’t really inquired as such, I just make sure my records are accurate and up to date. So I don’t really rely on this aspect of the program anyway.
Another aspect I’ve come to enjoy is the fact that there are separate logins for both parent and student. The student screens allow them to choose which classes they want to work on and then, once they select the class, all the assignments are in order. So even if they want to work on their own, any time of the day, they can simply log in and go to work.
On the left hand side, the “Portfolio” option gives them the chance to quickly view what they have done for the day, week or month, and what scores they have. The writer is where essay type questions are answered and turned in for you to grade. I admit, it does take some hands on experience to get the feel for that, as a parent/teacher, but it comes fairly quickly. And finally, the toolkit has a plethora of great resources for each class listed.
As I said, there are tools for every single class so this list goes on and on. Unfortunately, I didn’t find out about this little gem until weeks into the program, which is why I wanted to include it here. If you choose to go with Time4Learning, make sure you check these out! 🙂
I have had a few minor quirks with this system that I wanted to make mention of before closing out. The first is that every now and again, the system will freeze on my daughter’s student pages. For instance, she can be in the middle of a lesson, clicking from activity to activity and it will freeze and completely stop. She has to exit that page entirely and start over from the login page. It does get frustrating, but it’s nothing that has caused more than a couple of minutes of down time.
Another thing is that there have been a handful of times that quizzes will ask questions that haven’t even been covered yet. We have ran across this perhaps 4 or 5 times in over a month of lessons. That is really frustrating because it often makes for a missed question when in fact, the information hasn’t actually been taught. This was a big problem in algebra on a particular problem concerning fractions. It also happened in a biology lesson when referring to a graph that had absolutely nothing to do with the question asked. Again, frustrating, but not a major deal-breaker in the larger scheme of things.
There might be some instances in which your student may not understand the information as it is taught in the video. We have also had this happen, and my daughter being the perfectionist she is, gets incredibly frustrated with this. In these situations, we always use outside resources and tutoring sites that go really in depth on the subject matter that she didn’t get a good grasp on through Time4Learning. Of course, this isn’t a fault of the program, just a particular learning style of my daughter. It doesn’t happen often, as Time4Learning does a great job in this area, but I thought I’d make note of it, just in case.
Overall, and considering all the factors involved, I would definitely recommend Time4Learning to anyone looking for a curriculum for their high school aged child. And while I haven’t had any experience with other grade levels, I’m sure they are just as good.
The content is engaging, easy to understand and laid out in a way that makes the child want to learn. It’s not just a boring informational site, this program aims to make learning fun. Furthermore, it gives opportunities during each lesson to find out if the information is actually being understood. If not, they go back over snippets of the lesson in a different way.
We are very happy with the program and look forward to finishing this year off with great grades!
*****As a member of Time4Learning, I have been asked to review their online education 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. Write your own curriculum review or learn how to use their curriculum for homeschool, after school study or summer learning.