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.
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
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! 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!