Since we set off on first our “expat” life, and later our “traveling family” journey, we have consistently run into the same question over and over. “What about your kid’s educations?”

When we lived in Mexico for nearly 2 years, the answer was easy. We found a great private bilingual school that our kids started attending in preschool. They quickly learned a great deal of Spanish, and my older daughter (then 6 years old) often came home with what felt like a boat-load of homework each night. We loved it. And hated it. Why did school have to be about test scores and memorizing junk? Why did they have to do so much busy work that I don’t think actually taught them anything? Why did 6 year old children have to attend school all day, and then come home and do even more homework?  What about being kids? What about the joy of learning?

So, when we took off on our full-time traveling journey this summer, we were a bit worried, and yet a bit excited about going the homeschool route for the first time. Would our older daughter (now 7) even like it?  Would her feisty personality (which hates a parent as a tutor) be able to adapt?

Many different homeschool methods were explored and tested. Workbooks were used, and ditched. Then we started searching online for a solution, and we are SO happy to report we finally found one we love–Time4Learning.com.

time4learningphoto

At first, I was a bit taken aback that are a monthly subscription format (it is per child, with a discount for each additional child). Some other homeschool programs (which I’ve now learned are very sub-par) offer a dirt-cheap low yearly price. How could this program be so much better?

But as I’ve tested it and used it in our family, I’m sold and consider it a drop in the bucket for education costs. The yearly price is still significantly less than our cost of putting 2 children in a private school in Mexico for just one month (which was very cheap by US standards)!  There is no yearly contract, and there is even a 14-day money back guarantee, so you can be certain you love it.

I found Time4Learning.com via another homeschooler’s positive review online, and was excited that they’d give me a free month in exchange for an honest review on my blog. They have some free lesson demos that you can click through on their website, but they are not even the tip of the iceberg in the immense curriculum that is offered in their subscription program. After 1 month of trying the program out for each of our daughters, here are some things I love:

They cover Kindergarten through 8th grade—a massive amount that my kids can grow with!

-Since the program is per child, that means my daughters (ages 7 and 5) have access to totally different curriculums that are age-appropriate for them. They have separate logins.

-The program has automated lesson grading and record keeping—which will be great if I have to prove anything to a school in the future. Plus, I can see what they are exceeding in, or what they may be having trouble with.

-My kids can have access to a grade above or below their current level, in case they are ready to learn more (or a bit less) about a certain subject. For example, my 7 year old was on a “space” kick, so I upped her from Grade 2 to Grade 3 for awhile, so she could learn from their larger science curriculum that had even more lessons about Space.

-To give you an idea of how many lessons are offered in just Grade 2, let me list them: Language Arts—210 activities, Math-215 activities, Science-21 activities, Social Studies-23 activities. Starting in Grade 3, the number of activities in Science and Social Studies jump up to levels comparable to the other subjects.

-The program is fairly easy to navigate, so I help my kids login, and then let them soar.

A little background on our family dynamics: My 7 year old HATES to be taught by her parents. She is SO sweet and respectful of teachers, but when it comes to us sitting down with her and trying to explain something to her, she shuts down and turns off.

This program does a great job at teaching concepts…not just practicing them. Whereas some other homeschool programs I’ve found require a parent to sit down and talk the child through the lessons, in Time4Learning.com the program does the tutoring and explaining. They have little scenes that pop up with characters that usually have an “expert” (aka: a robot or another kid who knows his stuff) who is answers pre-programmed questions for the student. The questions that are asked are all perfectly fitting, and address what every kid would be thinking. So, my 7 year old can sit down and tackle an entirely new subject or math concept all by herself, and come out with a full understanding of it. She proves this by going through the full lesson plan, answering the practice questions, and doing a little quiz at the end.

I truly believe that self-driven learning is much more effective for my daughter than having me sit next to her and try to “play teacher,” and Time4Learning is the best teacher I’ve found in an online-based homeschool program. That, and she really enjoys it!  The lessons are engaging and interesting! Even I have been fascinated by some of them Winking smile

As for my 5 year old…she is still on a preschool level. At first I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the extra money for her to also do the program, but without a doubt I will also keep her on it. She enjoys it and her curriculum offers what appears to her as mostly learning games (“fun” stuff in which she is accidentally learning, too!). I’d much rather she jump on Time4Learning.com than on pbskids.org, where I have to wade through the junk (and ads) to get her to some games that actually teach her something!

In other words…with all this said and done…I am a picky person and don’t like to commit to any monthly costs unless I truly see the value in it. And with this program—I certainly see the value. And I’m not the only one—guessing from their 13k fans on Facebook!

Try it out, and I think you’ll be pleased.

The only downer is the program uses Flash, so you can’t pull it up on your iPad for the kids. But, wait!  There is a work-around which their site doesn’t mention!  You can download the Puffin Browser App on your iPad which allows you to view Flash—and wa-la!  You’re back in business! Winking smile  Enjoy!

 

All opinions shared are entirely my own, and I was compensated for this review with a one-month review trial. I will continue this service on my own dime. I do not receive any commissions for referrals, but I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

22 Responses to “Homeschooling on the Road”

  1. Hi-

    How much time do your kids spend on time4learning.com per day and per week? How about you, the parents? I understand that learning never really stops, but nonetheless would like to try and measure time involvement dedicated to homeschooling… Thank you!

    • It all depends on what we are doing at the time. A lot of our learning comes from field trips out of the house, etc. I also don’t think the majority of a kid’s day should be spent doing study work or being on a computer. Kids can learn a lot faster when they are not in a classroom environment with a lot of distractions and other kids who must go at the same pace. I’m happy if my older daughter puts in 1 hour a weekday…but that rarely happens. When she does log in and I ask her to do a lesson…I find that she just keeps going and going until perhaps 5 or more lessons are done (without me having to ask)! We don’t do a set amount of time, and when she decides she is doing math, for example, I suggest she try out another subject for awhile. Many lessons later…she is done altogether. For the 5 year old, I don’t push it unless she asks to play games online or do “homework,” and then I log her in. As for time that is required for me? Zip. Every parent is different with homeschool times, etc. But I feel that the general consensus is that homeschooled kids do not spend a large amount of time in directed learning, as they do in a classroom. They can cover the same material in a fraction of the time!

  2. Julie Saville says:

    I’m glad you found something that is working for you all. Sounds like a great program!

  3. This is interesting. All the online curriculum I have seen is boring (Switched on school house. *cough*). I like what you say about the tutoring aspect. Do you feel like the work is at grade level? Is the math strong?

    • Hi Lana. Yes, I agree…many online curriculums are not interesting enough to hold my 7 year old’s attention (or mine). This one is quite good, and I was really impressed with HOW WELL it explained math concepts that I may have found a bit tricky to explain, otherwise. And I love how it takes her on a path towards understanding bigger and harder concepts…one step at a time. Some other programs just HIT you with a new concept, and I’d stop and think “how do I even begin to teach this to her, so she can do what the program wants her to do?!” Yes, I do feel the work is at grade level for my daughter! You should give it a try! I especially love how varied the lessons are–not just strong on one subject.

  4. Awesome!!!!

  5. We have used time4learning.com on and off for many years now. My oldest is using the Algebra this year, my middle K, my youngest pre k II. They all like the program. My oldest just could not figure out pre-algebra we used at the beginning of the year but when I saw that time4learning.com had algebra, I jumped on it for him to give it a try. He likes that he can replay the lesson if he dose not understand it. I like that he is learning it all by himself. Only needs me every so often. Makes it easier on me.

    Lil’ Momma
    Working with 1 preschooler, 1 kindergardener and 1 middle schooler who are Five in Training for HIM

    • Hi Brandy,
      I think it’s cool that you can start and stop your time4learning.com membership depending on the situation, and what stage your child may be at! Definitely makes life easier to have a good program like this! Now, if only it could change my feisty daughter’s attitude ALL the time…THAT would be dreamy!

      • If you cancel your subscription do they keep your records , so if you resubscibe it will still all be there?

        • I have wondered the same thing–and I am thinking not. From what I can tell on the back-end, a decent amount of off-time (2-3 weeks?) may cancel and close out your records. However, you could likely print them before you stop, etc.

          • If you cancel they do not keep your records. Once you cancel they keep your account open until the end of your of billing cycle. You can put your account on Dormant for $4. a month if you want to take the summer off. This is a great choice. Or if you want to try a different curriculum you can put your account on dormant. That is $4. a month per student. Does that help you with your question.

            Lil’ Momma
            Working with 1 preschooler, 1 kindergardener and 1 middle schooler who are Five in Training for HIM

          • Awesome–thanks for letting us know! This is exactly what we need, as I wasn’t too thrilled about paying during the months we plan to take off from school. I love that they will keep the records ongoing…much better than canceling and starting over! Thanks, Brandy!

  6. OK, I’ll check it out! My boys ( 8 and 6) have been homeschooled for 2 years and we’re just about to take off travelling with them. They use Studyladder at the moment and that seems to be fine for Maths and English, although the elder one’s English is above the standard of the top level, so we just don’t bother, he reads books instead, for fun. But there isn’t much on there for other subjects, we unschool most of that anyway. I’ll see what this programme can offer us. Thanks 🙂

    • It’s certainly worth a look to see if it has what you need! You can select your child’s grade level for each subject, I believe…so maybe you could plug your oldest into higher level English quite easily!!

  7. Thanks for sharing. My son is also in 2nd grade and we have the exact same experience with both school, throwing out the workbooks etc.. We have been purely winging it for the last few months with focusing only on reading, writing and math via real life or Khan Academy. But I think it would be great to have one on-line source that gave him more structure. I will check this out!

    • Yes, we were also seeking the structure, without having to shove something down our daughter’s throat. It can still be a trial to get her ON the computer, but once she’s on it often goes a lot smoother than other methods we’ve already tried! Really, they are soooo young at this age and I don’t think they should HAVE to learn things at a certain age (like school suggests), but there is definitely a part of me that wants our children to stay up with their grade level (in case we stick them back in school for a little while, etc).

  8. Hi, we live in Bangkok at the moment and had the same reaaly expensive international school problem with our 13 year old daughter. We are instead homeschooling with an online high school based in the US. She gets proper high school credits and certificates and can do it all on her own. I will try it next year with my toddler. http://www.foresttrailacademy.com
    Keep up the great travel adventure!

  9. Hola! Heidi just found this post when she was searching for online education resources. We’re not putting the kids in school this year because we’re going to hit the road and don’t want to invest (inscripcion, uniforms, etc) just to leave a few months later. So we’re entering the world of (gulp) home school. This appears to be a great solution.

    In your experience, would you say it’s comprehensive? Also, the Puffin app really works for iPad? if not, that’s kind of a deal breaker for us.

    • Thank you SOOOOO much for your patience! How frustrating it must have been on your end!!
      As silly as it sounds…whenever I sat down at my computer and remembered this email, the iPad was somewhere else, either being used or in a room with a sleeping baby! Ack!
      Okay–so–we opened it up this morning–and were NOT impressed with Puffin. In fact, it wouldn’t always work, and my daughter said a definite “no.” I did a little more research and found the photon browser app recommended ($4.99) and downloaded it to test out. It worked! My daughter said it was fine for time4learning and she had no problems with it!
      I do like time4learning.com. It may not be a forever solution (it can get old for kids…my oldest was done with it after about 1 1/2 years)—but it’s fantastic place to start!
      I hope that helps!!!

  10. We have really loved the timeforlearning.com as well. We started off our 2 year rv trip around the US with a local, public school “online” school. 10 boxes of books, notebooks, supplies. etc is not what we considered “online” and didn’t teach the info adequately which caused me and the children to cry on more than one occasion! If they get something wrong on timeforlearning, it is explained again a little differently. My second grader has finished the 2nd grade material and is moving into 3rd grade amterial. The 7th grader is sailing along beautifully with little one on one help needed. Our 4th grade special needs student is on grade level in all subjects but doing first grade math (not an option with the other program) and said one day she should be a math teacher since she was doing so well (I wouldn’t go that far). We are only 7 months into this trip, but might have canceled altogether if not for timeforlearning.

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