School done during summer vacation needs to be a lot of fun!
Home from China just a year and a half, we’re still playing catch up in the area of academics, especially reading. Believe me, I’m not complaining. While a year and a half ago Wenxin had never been to school (in China or America), didn’t speak a word of English, and couldn’t tell an “A” from a “Z,” now he’s virtually fluent in spoken English and reads at a solid first grade level. He’s a learning machine.
Now that summer’s here, we need to keep this academic ball rolling, but any “school” done during summer vacation needs to be a lot of fun!
Enter Time4Learning. Time4Learning is an online learning system that we used when Wenxin first came home from China. I needed something he could do independently while I worked with my other homeschooled kids, and when he first came home, I couldn’t get Wenxin to do anything independently. At the recommendation of our social worker, we used Time4Learning for a couple of months, and were pleased with the results. Because Wenxin enjoyed playing on the computer, Time4Learning was a stress free way for him to learn the English alphabet and all the consonant and short vowel sounds.
At the homeschool convention last weekend, I decided to renew Wenxin’s Time4Learning membership — just for the summer — to give him a fun way to keep honing his academic skills.
Here are some things I like about Time4Learning:
- It’s solid academically, covering all areas of language arts along with math, science and social studies.
- You get access to activities for 3 grade levels: the grade level you choose for your child plus one grade above and one grade below. This helps us because while Wenxin was a 2nd grader this year, he did 1st grade language arts and 3rd grade math. There are lots of kids like that.
- As a parent, you control the amount of time your child has to work on academics before he gets a set amount of time on the site’s “playground.”
- You monitor written reports of your child’s activities. You see what he attempted and his percentage correct. I print these reports for Wenxin’s homeschool portfolio.
- Their customer service is impressive; I e-mailed them this morning and got a response within a few hours.
- Last of all, Time4Learning gives you a two week money back guarantee. You can cancel for a full refund any time during your first two weeks. So trying it is risk-free.
An observation: To get the most out of Time4Learning, the parent has to take a little time to get familiar with the site. I’d suggest you sit with your child the first 2 or 3 times he uses the program. I’m still figuring out how to best use it with Wenxin this time around.
Now, a couple of things I don’t like:
- If you have a child who needs lots of practice in one area, say, for example, short vowel words, they may run out of practice activities on Time4Learning before they are ready to move on to long vowel words. This happened to Wenxin when he used the program the first time. That’s one of the reasons we cancelled after a couple of months. The other reason was. . .
- You have to pay $19.95 a month for it, for as long as you use it. I, for one, generally look for free online resources and am reluctant to sign up for paid subscriptions. However, since Wenxin needs some extra help this summer, I’m open to all options. I checked into a summer reading class for him through a local university, but found it was $330.00 for five 2 hour classes. After choking on that price, Time4Learning seemed like a bargain, so I guess it’s a matter of perspective? And there are ways to make Time4Learning more affordable.
First of all, they will compensate you financially for writing an honest review on your blog, just like I’m doing now. You can also refer friends, and Time4Learning will send you a $25 Visa gift card for every family that signs up (after their trial period). That translates into free months for you.
So what about you? Are you planning to have your kids do any academic work over the summer? How do you keep it fun?