Experienced homeschooling parent with questions about the platform
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  1. #1
    Momschooler is offline Junior Member Newbie
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    Smile Experienced homeschooling parent with questions about the platform

    Hi all...
    I'm a mom who homeschools two children, 12 and 15. I've been homeschooling for four years now, and attend University myself under a dual major and I'm preparing for masters, so this year I'm adding some features to the children's learning that can be undertaken when I, myself, am on campus. I am there twelve hours a day two days a week, usually, and the alternating days are dedicated to lecture and class time. This means I like to keep my kids working when not in class time, just as would be expected of them in college.

    T4L appears to be at least an elemental platform that can supplement lecture and lab, from what I can tell. There are some things that I don't like in just a first review at the curriculum, so I wonder if anyone here can speak to those concerns:

    -The animation is dated and unsophisticated and the videos are pure cheese even at upper level.
    I worry that my children will lose patience with the 'schtick'. I can see where this might work for Elementary students, but my kids are used to college level lectures, as many homeschooling children are.

    -The printables appear to be loaded with unnecessary, ink-sucking graphics
    (Are there friendlier options?)

    -There appears to be a limit of a couple years either side of 'expected' grade level.
    To me this is a real deal breaker. I pulled my kids out of public schools because I wanted the freedom to teach based on interest. In some areas, they are just beginning, in others, they surpass. T4L seems to expect me to have followed a linear progression of foundational learning. Is there a work around on this?


    Common Core alignment
    This is another deal breaker for me. Studying education myself (soon to be college professor) I see some huge issues with CC. Are there alternatives?

    Pre-testing and Assessment
    The website seems pretty obtuse on this subject. Can somebody clue me in?

    Technical Concerns
    Functionality issues with high traffic on servers? Players are draggy and often freeze. I have an advanced laptop with enough features to handle the Google Automation and Control systems and that I deal with for my current work. I do not have this problem on my end anywhere but here. The demos, however, are not impressive with regard to streaming capabilities.

    Grade Level Ratings
    I am currently using IXL as a testing and practice platform for my kids and it's stellar with regard to all of the above. One of the features that I really appreciate is that I can pull out references to grade level and they merely knock back their work per unit for each section, rather than the subconcious process of being 'ranked' by grade. To a homeschooler who is already learning unconventionally, I would really rather not subject them to grade level comparisons.

    Subscription Questions:
    My students school 45/15: 45 days on, 15 off--year round. They take conceptual instruction six months out of the year and put into practice what they have learned the other six. I prefer to pay my subscriptions in advance. Is there an option for six months? What happens to their results/records in the off period? Am I forced to pay an entire year just to keep their information from getting deleted? Website is obtuse on this point, too.


    Sorry it's so long but I'm sure I'm going to have even MORE questions. I AM grateful for this forum. I teach my own curriculum and it's extensive, but using this platform would be a good supplement as I work through an insane schedule of finishing University, a family business, and homeshooling.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    hearthstone_academy's Avatar
    hearthstone_academy is offline Administrator
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    Hi, Momschooler. First, welcome to the forum! I've addressed each of your concerns, below.

    Quote Originally Posted by Momschooler View Post

    -The animation is dated and unsophisticated and the videos are pure cheese even at upper level.
    I worry that my children will lose patience with the 'schtick'. I can see where this might work for Elementary students, but my kids are used to college level lectures, as many homeschooling children are.

    The curriculum was designed to be especially engaging, for students who learn best that way. No curriculum will be a perfect fit for every student. My own kids have enjoyed the lessons, but a couple didn't want their friends to see them doing their school work. I was surprised to find that, in viewing my own kids' lessons, I retained a few things just because the way they were presented made them impossible to forget! Some students might find the silliness too distracting. Time4Learning is not the right curriculum choice for those students. It does get toned down a bit at upper levels, but there's still plenty of goofy stuff for students who enjoy that.

    -The printables appear to be loaded with unnecessary, ink-sucking graphics
    (Are there friendlier options?)

    I print all my kids' work in Draft mode, using black ink only. Again, the worksheets are designed for students who respond to that visual appeal.

    -There appears to be a limit of a couple years either side of 'expected' grade level.
    To me this is a real deal breaker. I pulled my kids out of public schools because I wanted the freedom to teach based on interest. In some areas, they are just beginning, in others, they surpass. T4L seems to expect me to have followed a linear progression of foundational learning. Is there a work around on this?

    There is no limit to the grade level your children can work at. You set their default level within your parent login. This can be vastly different for each subject, and you can change it any time you wish. When your student logs in to math, for instance, he will see lessons at the default math grade level you have chosen for him. (Let's imagine that's third grade.) If you want to explore one level up or one level down, you may click the little numbers at the upper right of his dashboard to change to second or fourth grade math for that login session only. When he logs in to math again, he will be taken to his default third grade level.

    You can change the default by logging in to your parent account. (Let's imagine you changed math to level four for him.) Now, when he logs in to math, he will automatically see math level four, but you will be able to click the little numbers at the top to temporarily change to levels three or five.

    You can set a different default level for each subject.

    I have especially appreciated that my kids have access to virtually ALL the curriculum (pre-k-8) for our monthly fee, as that has not been the case at all with other programs we have tried. There is no limit to how often you can change grade levels.



    Common Core alignment
    This is another deal breaker for me. Studying education myself (soon to be college professor) I see some huge issues with CC. Are there alternatives?

    Time4Learning does not participate in any common core reporting or statistics. Time4Learning was around before common core and has changed none of the lessons to align with common core. The curriculum was developed by Compass Learning Odyssey, who only provides it to schools TIme4Learning has acquired a license allowing them to offer it to families and individuals. Compass Learning Odyssey recently added some lessons to satisfy common core requirements. These are marked "New" within the lessons plans/scope and sequence in your parent account. You are free to skip those new lessons, or to use them. We do provide instruction using a variety of methods, to reach all kinds of learners. Some of these methods may appear to resemble common core, while others will not. Again, parents are free to skip anything they want to skip.

    Pre-testing and Assessment
    The website seems pretty obtuse on this subject. Can somebody clue me in?

    We have found trial and error to be more accurate than a placement test. Students can work at different grade levels for each subject, or even move back and forth between grade levels. Some parents look at the scope and sequence and start their child a little below where they "think" they are working. Then, they have the student take each chapter test BEFORE doing the lessons in the chapter. If they do well on the test, they do not do the lessons in that chapter. They move on and try the chapter test at the end of the NEXT chapter. If they do not do well on the test, they do the lessons and try the test again. In this way, the student is only studying material they have not yet learned and can usually proceed more quickly.



    Technical Concerns
    Functionality issues with high traffic on servers? Players are draggy and often freeze. I have an advanced laptop with enough features to handle the Google Automation and Control systems and that I deal with for my current work. I do not have this problem on my end anywhere but here. The demos, however, are not impressive with regard to streaming capabilities.

    The demos are lacking many functions, as they are intended to demonstrate what the lessons are like and not to address technical issues.

    Time4Learning is optimized to run on Firefox. My own kids (and any members I have spoken with recently) have no trouble using Google Chrome and Safari. A stable Internet connection is important, as well as updated plugins. I have a fairly dated computer as far as computers go, and my kids don't experience difficulty running the lessons. If you are concerned, please run this system check. After clicking the blue Check System arrow, you should see all green indicators in the Results column. If you have any red indicators, there will also be a link where you can install or update the necessary plugins.

    Grade Level Ratings
    I am currently using IXL as a testing and practice platform for my kids and it's stellar with regard to all of the above. One of the features that I really appreciate is that I can pull out references to grade level and they merely knock back their work per unit for each section, rather than the subconcious process of being 'ranked' by grade. To a homeschooler who is already learning unconventionally, I would really rather not subject them to grade level comparisons.

    So would I. Unfortunately, since the curriculum was developed to be used in public schools, the grade levels are there. We started using it in 2006, when many of my kids were quite young. I didn't call the levels "grades". I called them "levels". That way, if my fifth grader who was using third grade math and seventh grade language arts was able to move up to fourth grade math, she really considered it "moving up". They never felt behind. At some point, I suspect some of them figured it out, but it really wasn't an issue by then.

    Subscription Questions:
    My students school 45/15: 45 days on, 15 off--year round. They take conceptual instruction six months out of the year and put into practice what they have learned the other six. I prefer to pay my subscriptions in advance. Is there an option for six months? What happens to their results/records in the off period? Am I forced to pay an entire year just to keep their information from getting deleted? Website is obtuse on this point, too.

    During months that you are not using the lessons, you can make your child's account dormant by logging in to your parent account and selecting that option. During the months your account is dormant, you pay only 5.99 per child per month instead of the regular rate. That just pays to have your child's records of progress and scores stored on our server. You will also have access to your parent account during periods of dormancy, but your students won't have access to the lessons. You may make one child's account dormant and not the other, or they may both go dormant at the same time.

    For students in Pre-K through eighth grade, you can pay for six months at once using PayPal, check or money order. This money-saving option reduces the monthly fee from $19.95 to $14.95 for each student (6 x 14.95 = $89.70). We also offer an Annual Plan by PayPal, check or money order as well. When you pay for one full year, your membership fee is only $169.95 per student. For high school students, you have the option to make a semi-annual payment for $180 per student or an annual payment for $360 per student via check or money order.





    Sorry it's so long but I'm sure I'm going to have even MORE questions. I AM grateful for this forum. I teach my own curriculum and it's extensive, but using this platform would be a good supplement as I work through an insane schedule of finishing University, a family business, and homeshooling.

    Hey, that's why we're here! Ask away. I was a very hands-on homeschool mom and started using Time4Learning during an especially busy time in my life, too. I like that the program grades all of the online work, tests, and quizzes, so I don't have to sit down to a pile of workbooks to go over every night. I can still sit with my kids and sip on a cup of coffee while they're doing their lessons when I have time . . . which keeps me in the loop, but avoids the need to teach every, single concept "from scratch".

    Let us know if there's more you need.


    Mom of six . . . current students and homeschool graduates. Enjoying using Time4Learning since 2006!

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