Before the pandemic, it was business as usual for Boca Raton resident Nikki Warris. Her two daughters, 5-year-old Natalie and 8-year-old Lexi, were attending brick and mortar schools, and her tutoring business, which she opened in 2018, was growing steadily.

Fast forward to March 2020 when the pandemic forced schools to transition to remote learning, and Nikki’s personal and professional life were about to change, much like it did for millions of parents around the world. From the get-go, Nikki knew that remote learning wasn’t going to work for her family, so she began to homeschool her girls.

As a former public school teacher with a degree in secondary English education, Nikki has quite a bit of experience when it comes to educating children and helping them succeed. In fact, it’s her passion. Today, she provides tutoring services and homeschool help to close to 20 students ranging from elementary to high school. In the last few months, with an increasing number of parents feeling unhappy with remote learning environments, she has received more inquiries than ever before.

Watch our second episode of “Tales from the Homeschool Front” featuring Nikki to hear her story and advice for families.

What she’s hearing most from parents is that they are seeking a better alternative to the learning experiences children are exposed to with crowded Zoom-type virtual classrooms. Nikki has become so passionate about homeschooling, that she’s made it her goal to inform parents about its benefits. “For those that it (homeschooling) is an option, it’s better for your child to have any kind of individualized learning over being in a classroom with 20 to 30 students,” she says.

As a teacher who spent several years in the classroom, Nikki understands how difficult it can be to give each student your undivided attention. As a school teacher, she would often become frustrated when she couldn’t dedicate one-on-one time with her students, because there simply wasn’t enough time.

That’s why she has become a strong advocate for homeschooling, and Time4Learning, which she uses for both homeschooling and afterschool skill-building through her tutoring service. Nikki discovered Time4Learning when she researched online for an afterschool tutoring curriculum that she could provide to her students. She loves Time4Learning’s low cost of membership, especially since many parents are struggling financially due to job losses and other hardships brought on by the pandemic. Some parents came to her after paying thousands of dollars for ineffective homeschool programs and curricula. “They were lost and it was hard and they were frustrated,” she says.

Since Nikki helps students of varying ages and skill levels, she loves the control that she has with Time4Learning. According to Nikki, Time4Learning empowers her with the tools and resources to provide individualized learning, which is at the core of her tutoring business. “Everyone does not learn the same way,” she says. Some of her students use Time4Learning full time, while others only use it for certain subjects or topics.

“I love that you can choose the material instead of having to do everything,” she says. She can preview lessons, have the students skip material on concepts they have mastered, as well as determine what a passing grade is.

Nikki finds the activity planner especially helpful for a number of reasons. “It (Time4Learning) does it all for you,” she says. “You just put in your dates and what you want.” A few clicks and her students have an easy-to-follow schedule with the amount of activities they have to complete every week.

“It (Time4Learning) does it all for you. You just put in your dates and what you want.”

Nikki

The records are another time (and space) saver, according to the Time4Learning member. “Being able to store all their records without having to keep paper is just phenomenal.” Additionally, the reporting helps her keep track of each student’s progress and determine where there may be a ‘disconnect’ with material. If that’s the case, they can easily go back and redo the lessons, or she can review it with the student.

For those parents that worry about screen time, Nikki believes that as long you include outside activities like hands-on projects, things will balance themselves out. That is one of the reasons Nikki loves the Time4Learning science curriculum, since it includes tons of ideas for hands-on activities. She also incorporates physical education, music, and art into the students’ schedules. These are activities that families can integrate into their own homeschool plans, or complete within a group setting.

Her older students are big fans of the newest updates to the middle and high school curriculum, including the electives and the wide-range of courses. For example, rather than just science or social studies, Time4Learning offers Earth science, biology, chemistry, American history, and ancient world history, just to name a few.

Nikki's Story For her younger daughter, Natalie, who attended preschool, the transition to homeschooling was easier. She’s now learning to read, and although she is using Time4learning as her core curriculum, Nikki says it’s important to include outside reading as well. She uses leveled books and motivates her little one by giving her a prize for every level she completes.

Initially, her older daughter, Lexi, who she says is a social butterfly, wasn’t thrilled about being away from her friends, but now with more students joining them in their homeschool learning, things have gotten easier.

Nikki wants other families to feel empowered too, regardless of their experience. In her opinion, nothing compares to homeschooling and the one-on-one instruction it provides. If you’re on the fence and considering making the transition, Nikki says, “Just do it. Whatever is best for your child is what you should do.”

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