I've been pretty honest since I started writing this blog about our math woes. And while we are finally at a fairly happy place with the core curriculum we are using for math, Ben is still a bit behind where I would like for him to be. He's making progress, but I'm feeling the need to really focus on "catching him up" this school year.
This summer, he had a few tutoring sessions with a local teacher/homeschool mom and one of the first things she recommended to me was Time4Learning to give him added math practice and instruction. This review opportunity could not have been more timely.
During the past 4 weeks, Ben has primarily used the math portion of the program about 3 times per week.
We've used Time4Learning in the past, both as a core curriculum during a health crisis and with another review opportunity, so I was already somewhat familiar with what it had to offer. However, we did take a look around to see what's new and exciting since the last time we used it!
For those of you not familiar, Time4Learning is a curriculum based online primarily for grades PreK-8, though there are a few high school offerings now as well. As a core curriculum, Time4Learning offers the homeschool family lessons in 4 subjects -- Math, Language Arts, Science and Social Studies. The math and language arts lessons align to state standards, while the science and social studies components will likely need supplementation based on your own state's requirements. Although it is primarily an online curriculum, taught with interactive animated video lessons, there are also printable worksheets available to reinforce what is being taught. Time4Learning can be used for summer schooling, afterschooling or homeschooling, as a supplement or a core curriculum. However, I will focus my review on what it has to offer the homeschool family as a math supplement.
Hands down, my favorite thing about Time4Learning is the Parent Administration feature. Here, parents have access to so many tools to make learning successful with this program --
Lesson Previews and Planning -- This feature allows you to see all of the possible lesson plans, the scope and sequence for each, and everything available for each lesson (activities, worksheets, quizzes, and tests). This allows you to determine what lessons to assign your student. Because Ben was working primarily with fractions during our review period, I was able to go straight to those lessons in order to plan. This image shows the first few available lessons.
I could then use the Activity Finder to find each specific lesson I wished to assign. I could also preview the lesson and even work through it myself if I felt the need or desire to do so.
Student Schedules -- I love this feature. It can work a couple of different ways. If you are using Time4Learning for an entire school year, you can just fill in the dates you are beginning and ending, along with which subjects you wish to complete, and it will generate a weekly activity schedule for your student to follow so that all work will be completed during the time frame of your school year.
For Ben, I wanted to focus him on math lessons in particular areas of struggle (fractions), so I was able to go in and pick and choose which lessons, worksheets, tests and quizzes he should complete in a particular time period (one month). I was then able to print out his schedule (and printable worksheets and quizzes) for him to easily follow. I simply placed all of the printables into a pocket folder, with his schedule in the front. The printed schedule even included checkboxes for him to mark when he completed each lesson. This fostered more independence in his schooling, and it gave him a measure of control over when he did his lessons. He could complete them all in one day or spread them out over the week. The choice was up to him. I love this kind of flexibility! And since fostering independence is one of our goals for this school year, I was thankful for this feature.
Student Records and Reports -- Another helpful feature of Time4Learning is the built-in record-keeping. With a click of the mouse, it is easy for me to see which lessons have been completed. I can even print a record to keep in Ben's portfolio.
For those of you who live in states that require state testing, Time4Learning provides State Simulation Assessments -- non-graded activities that help prepare your student for testing.
When you sign up for Time4Learning, you assign your student a grade level for Math and Language Arts (Science and Social Studies are automatically assigned at the Language Arts grade level), but you will have access to one grade above and one grade below the assiged grade. This allows for flexibility for kids who may be working ahead, or are struggling a bit in one area. If you need to be bumped up a grade after you sign up, you can make those changes with the click of a mouse.
Ben was registered at the grade 7 level, but worked more in the grade 6 math. We will be adding some Language Arts Lessons this fall, and he will likely work at the grade 8 level there. I appreciate that Time4Learning recognizes that kids often work at different levels in different subjects and we aren't tied to one grade level for everything.
Ben enjoys doing math lessons with Time4Learning mostly because he enjoys working on the computer. He remembered the more childish animations of the lower level lessons and did not feel the upper level lessons were at all childish -- just fun.
Ben also found the Math Toolkit helpful. It contained things like Algebra Tiles, Base 10 Blocks, Calculator, Geoboard, a Number Line and this Fractions Tool --
Sometimes, writing out math problems can be laborious and somewhat confusing for Ben. Having these kinds of useful math tools available is helpful for my visual learner.
Time4Learning also contains a built-in reward system in what they dub the "Playground." The Playground is a collection of educational computer games. Time here can be earned by completing lessons. The best part is that a timer can be set, so that children don't spend too much time here. In fact, a timer can be set for lessons as well -- minimum times for the lessons, maximum times for the Playground.
Time4Learning is certainly much cheaper than paying a tutor, and Ben is able to spend time with it much more often than I can afford to pay someone. He still has some lessons to complete and more work to do to master fractions, but thus far Time4Learning has been a solid tutor for him. We are grateful to Time4Learning for providing us a 6-month long subscription in exchange for sharing about our experience. It will be well-used.
For my readers who would want to know -- Time4Learning is not a faith-based curriculum. While we focused most of our time in the math lessons, I did take a peek through the science lessons, looking for evolutionary content. I did not find a lot I would consider objectionable, but keep in mind that I didn't look at every lesson for every grade-- just those I thought would be more likely to mention millions of years. I did find a few mentions of millions or billions of years, but it was not frequent. Personally, I would find it easy to just skip those lessons or use them as a catalyst for discussion about what we believe.
The monthly cost is $19.95 for your first child and $14.95 for each additional child for grades PreK-8. There are no contracts or sign-up fees and you may cancel at any time. You can also place your account on hold for a small fee, without losing your previous records (this is great for vacations, extended illness, or summers off). Monthly charges are billed via credit or debit card. Time4Learning offers a 14-day money-back guarantee.
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