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Monday, June 18, 2012

Time4Learning program review Day #1

Okay, I posted the disclaimer yesterday that I am going to review the website for here on the blog in return for a 30-day free membership to the website.  As some of you may remember I am a Home Schooling Mom, and have been for over 20 years (on and off)  I have home schooled all five of my kids at one point or another, for one length of time or another.

My oldest son started it, it is really all his fault.  When he started school he had such high expectations from the Public School System and they failed him miserably.  He taught himself to read when he has 4, so by the time they let him in to Kindergarten he already knew everything they were going to teach him for the next two years.  Instead of finding some way to challenge him, his teachers had him help them teach the other kids.  And while that was fun at first, he was bored most of the time. For three years i listened to teachers promise me that they would try to get him into the Gifted program, but no one ever did.  Around the middle of second grade he asked me if he really had to go back. 

That was the beginning.  He stayed home until 5th grade, and then went back to Public School until about the middle of seventh grade.  He went back to home schooling until he graduated at 16 to start at the local Community College.  He was easy to home school.  He wouldn't let me do a damn thing, except help him gain access to the information and answer his questions as he had them.  We talked, a lot, about everything under the sun, no subject was ever off limits, but that was all I had to do.   He loved to read, and he loved to learn, all I had to do was allow him to do so.  They call it "UN-schooling" now I guess, but I just knew he was learning just fine on his own.

"The Kids", (my children by my first husband, including son #3 and my daughter, my #4 child) are 19 months apart and as a result of #3 son's Asperger's Syndrome they were in the same grade.  They were only home schooled for short periods of time because their father had to be a pain in the ass, but when they were at home the required complete and total structure for their learning or they would not do anything.  So I had their days planned to the minute with workbooks and projects, and over the course of 6 months we managed to bring both of them up to grade level when the Public School had managed to let them fall almost a year and a half behind.  Because of my son's "disability" the school system had lowered their expectations of his ability and refused to challenge him in any way and as a result he was not expected to do much.  At home he was expected to do what he was capable of doing, and I wouldn't accept anything less. 

"The Boys" are my two youngest sons (my husband's children).  They are 8 and 9 (almost 10) years old, they both went to Kindergarten at the Public School, and the older one tried a few weeks of both 1st and 2nd grade before giving up entirely on Public School.  I have tried a little bit of both "UN-schooling" and some structure with them, but I am learning that they are needing a little more structure if they are going to reach their potential, so I was looking for a curriculum source that could help provide some of that for us going forward.

Now, we all know my life is busy, and I like to claim to be lazy, so I was looking for something that wouldn't require a great deal of extra effort and also something that wouldn't cost a fortune.  My two biggest requirements were that is completely non-religious based and that I could afford to pay for it.  I searched online and found the Time4Learning web site.  After spending two days exploring everything I could access without registration I happened across the page that offered a free 30 day membership in return for a blog review.

Now there was a deal I certainly couldn't turn down!  I posted the disclaimer yesterday, filled out the information form, and waited for an email, which I received the this morning.  Since we are starting this program in June, I initially arranged to have both of the boys start out at the grade level they will be starting next Fall.  Today I let them just play around on the site exploring activities and lessons how ever they chose so they would learn to navigate and see just what Mom had gotten them into this time.  They both seemed to enjoy it immensely, each spending 2-3 hours on the site over the course of the day.  The younger one had some difficulty at first because he wanted to jump right into the questions without reading the text, but once he settled in and learned the rules he did just fine.  I did decide to back him down a grade on Language Arts for now as this is not his strongest subject and he seemed to be struggling a little more than he needed to be, but the change was really easy and I can change it back at any time which is one feature I really like.  Each subject is independent in the grade levels which allows him to stay at the higher level in Math which is his strongest subject. 

So our first impression of the web site is definitely favorable.  My goal is to try to post an update at least a couple of times during our free trial period, and if all goes well I think I might be willing to pay the monthly fee to continue long after that.

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