As you may recall, I received a free one month membership with Time4Learning in exchange for a review. The girls and I have been using the curriculum for a month now and I’m ready to share my thoughts. I’ll begin with my conclusion: I like Time4Learning enough that I’m going to pay to continue our membership. Sacrificing part of my weekly budget for curriculum is not something that I do lightly, so that alone speaks volumes.
I used Time4Learning with Cheesy, who is in third grade, and Bee, who is in kindergarten.Time4Learning is web based and appealed to me because I am looking for something that is easy to use. I am working part time, starting to take classes myself and always – ALWAYS – have trouble staying on top of the record keeping side of homeschooling. The automatic grading and record keeping is easily my favorite feature of Time4Learning. Not only can I log on and check on the girls’ progress in a matter of seconds, but so can they. By clicking on their backpack icons they can check their own grades. At the beginning of the trial period I established the rule that any assignment that received a grade below 80% would need to be repeated. Cheesy learned how to look herself and repeat assignments as necessary.
Another positive element of Time4Learning is that students have access to more than one grade level. For example, Cheesy is enrolled as a third grader but has access to both second and fourth grade work. This is helpful as she’s not on the same grade level in every subject. To be able to move up and down in grade levels without paying for extra materials is a luxury we homeschoolers seldom have.
The actual schoolwork is a mixed bag. The math and language arts programs are solid and presented in ways that are engaging to the girls. The combination of visual and auditory learning seems especially helpful to Bee, who has been struggling a bit with reading. Cheesy, on the other hand, is a competent reader but a lazy bones. She has complained far less about doing her work with Time4Learning than she typically does with other curriculum. Still, I share the concerns I’ve heard from others about the science and social studies portions of Time4Learning. There isn’t much in the way of either one, in the lower grades. Social studies doesn’t begin until second grade, and there are only 16 activities at the second grade level. Science begins a grade earlier, at the first grade level, but is also limited to 16 activities. Bee enjoyed the first grade science but zipped through it before our trial period was over. Cheesy had the same experience with second grade science – she liked it, but finished it in no time. The third grade science has been a very different experience. Although there’s far more to it (133 activities), so far it’s very dry and text heavy, not presented in creative ways. It’s not unlike reading a textbook. It’s also tediously repetitive in places. I’ve seen the concerns about science, in particular, in many Time4Learning reviews. I hope at some point the folks behind Time4Learning will begin to address the weaknesses.
I don’t think Time4Learning can serve as a stand alone curriculum. I think it’s a good start toward building a curriculum, though, particularly in language arts and math. The website offers lots of assistance in lesson planning and finding additional resources. If you use Time4Learning, just know going in that you’ll be doing a lot of supplementing in science and social studies (at least in the lower grades) or plan to use another curriculum entirely for those subjects.
I haven’t mentioned the cost of Time4Learning, but the modest price is certainly a selling point. Membership is $19.95 per month for the first child and $14.95 for each additional child. There is no contract, no minimum number of months required, and you pay as you go.
I realize that not everyone will be able to get a free month as I did, but Time4Learning offers a 14-day money back guarantee. That’s adequate time to explore the program and get a feel for whether it’s a good fit for you and your children. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from 11 years of homeschooling, it’s that no curriculum is right for everyone. At this point in our lives, Time4Learning is working well for Cheesy, Bee and I.