He can do his math on his own

For the past month, we’ve been using Time4Learning for math for my 8 year old. The whole Time4Learning program was recommended by a friend who remarked at how independently her kids could work with this program. That appealed to me, as my middle and youngest children get older and require more of my attention during “school time”, I wanted my 8 year old to have a few things he could do on his own, for the most part. And Time4Learning has been a good fit for him.

What is Time4Learning?

Time4Learning is an automated, on-line learning system that spans  lessons for preschool through middle school. It can include language arts, science, math and social studies.  It provides a sequence of lessons that are checked off as the child completes them at their own pace. Lessons can be repeated or the child or parent can pick a different sequence.  Parents can view detailed lesson plans on line or print them for record keeping.

While Time4Learning can be used as a core curriculum program, I want to be clear that we only used it for math (at the 2nd grade level), so my review is specific to the math portion of the program.

What do we like about Time4Learning?

  • It holds my child’s interest. He has some favorite characters, enjoys the games and activities and the flow of the lessons seem to be a good fit.
  • He truly can do most of it on his own. I often sit down with him when he starts, at some of the testing times, or whenever he asks me to help him with something, but he is mostly working independently.
  • He doesn’t have to write. Firefly has long had issues with writing. Our first homeschooling year, we had a battle for nearly every subject, which would surface only at the point where he had to write. It’s gotten better since then but he still isn’t fond of writing. After that first year, I made a decision to keep handwriting contained specifically to handwriting practice, rather than have a battle in each subject. Requiring him to write very little, other than when we are practicing handwriting, has made a tremendous difference for us.  Since the Time4Learning program is entirely computerized, writing is not an issue.
  • It’s very thorough. And I like being able to see all the upcoming lessons in the math program so I know what he’ll be working on.
  • I can track his progress, if I choose. Thus far, since we were doing a part of each lesson together, I didn’t utilize the parent feature of tracking progress. I feel like I have a handle on what he is learning from the program, but I like that this feature is available and will use it in the future.
  • It has helped me be consistent with math. That’s right, I said me. See, math is not my favorite subject to teach. It is probably why we have used three different math programs in three years. All the programs were good, but I didn’t like preparing math lessons or teaching math lessons so often I saved it for last and then, guess what? It didn’t get done much. Cue the homeschooling mom guilt: My child is behind in this subject because I don’t have it together. Time4Learning has helped me consistently keep math a part of my son’s learning. It’s the first thing he does every day for school. And since he does it mostly independently, I can move on to one of my other kids and get them started for the day.
  • The Time4Learning customer support has been great. They’ve responded quickly to our questions and a minor technical difficulty that we had. They set up our accounts quickly. When I requested a level change for my daughter, they did it right away.
  • I can choose the level my child works at. I can move him up or down a grade if one grade is too easy or another too challenging.

What are the challenges?

We tried using the program with my 6 year old daughter and she was only mildly interested. I don’t think this has anything to do with Time4Learning, she simply isn’t ready to do more formal lessons yet.  She’s had this response with another computer program as well as some text/workbook type of curriculum. I would definitely revisit Time4Learning with her at a later date.

My son struggles with the test portions of the program. This is probably more a function of his personality than the program. He has a lot of test anxiety and hates to get anything wrong. This lead to some resistance on his part on the days where a test was the next item in the queue for his Time4Learning Math. However, if  I  sit down with him and help him slow down and think through his answers before choosing one or let him skip the test entirely when it was obvious that he knows the material, it’s fine.

Overall, I would say that neither of these things were hugely problematic for us.

What does my child say about the program?

Since he’s the one actually using the program, I thought you’d like to hear what Firefly has to say about it, in his own words:  ”The games are pretty fun because it teaches me.  Some of the games are like a card game, and I like that.  I like the Mango character, he’s funny.”

Is there anything you didn’t like?  ”Well, sometimes I get what they’re talking about but they still keep explaining it. I wish there was a button I could click on to skip the explanation when I already understand, so I could go on to the next thing.”

Moving Forward

We plan to continue to use Time4Learning for math for my 8 year old and revisit if for my 6 year old in the future. I would also consider it for other subjects as well, either as a supplement or a main curriculum choice.