Time4Learning Online Curriculum Review

UPDATE: We have since stopped using Time4Learning.com after finding out that my hopes (updated lessons) was never going to happen.  During a test, my son got an answer wrong.  When we reviewed it, his answer was actually correct, but the test was wrong.  When I contacted Time4Learning.com I was informed that Science and Social Studies were “free” because they were no longer supported.  That’s when I realized I was spending all this money for Math and Language Arts?  And they weren’t very good?

 

 

Before I dive into the Time4Learning.com curriculum based on the Compass Learning Odyssey system, I’m going to provide an overview of how we ended up selecting Time4Learning.com for our home school curriculum this year.

 

2012-2013 School Year:

One of the great things about the state of Colorado is the fact that you can choose what school you enroll your children in.  We had already planned on homeschooling, but this state has many online public schools available.  After looking in the local area of Colorado Springs, we chose to enroll our children (Julia, 1st grade, and Tyler, 3rd grade) in FVA (Falcon Virtual Academy).  They use the K-12.com curriculum which is exceptionally organized and well planned out.  Being a public school, we had access to teachers and a weekly class to attend at the school.  We also received 4 large boxes (per child) of books, art supplies, science supplies, etc.  Again, being a public school, this was all provided free of charge to us.

 

Although the K-12.com curriculum contains pretty much everything you could hope for from a parents perspective, it didn’t take long to realize the actual content was extremely dry.  There wasn’t a whole lot of interactive lessons and it was basically as if you copied your standard class room and replicated it in your house.  I loved the ease of tracking progress, but some of the lessons were just hard to get through.  Not because the content was difficult, but because it was like, “Uugh..”

 

2013-2014 School Year:

After completing the school year, we decided to look around and see what was available.   We looked at many online systems and of them all, Compass Learning Odyssey site demos looked the best.  Interactive, engaging, etc.  I contacted the site hoping they would provide a list of schools that utilize their curriculum like the K-12.com site does to be told they don’t provide that information.  Basically, a “figure it out on your own” attitude.

 

Google led us to an Online Schools and Programs site.  From there, we clicked on every school listed under the “Multi-district Online Schools” category.  I went to every website listed for K-8 or K-12.  Looked at what curriculum they were using.  Then, researched that curriculum.  Looked at demos, Googled reviews, etc.

 

After all the research, we decided to go with Branson School Online because they had Compass Learning Odyssey listed as part of their curriculum.  We enrolled the kids and thought we were set.  The week before school started, we received a spreadsheet for each kid with site links and the username/password to log into each site.  We started the curriculum and it didn’t take me long to figure out this was the opposite of K-12.com when it came to organization.  Logging into a different site for each lesson was ridiculous.  Maybe it’s because I have 15+ years in the IT industry, but it was obvious that the school didn’t have any kind of IT department and they were just “renting” whatever program for each subject.   I don’t believe the school actually hosted anything themselves.  Everything was a service provided by another company.  We got a little taste of Compass Learning Odyssey, but it was controlled by the teacher, so most of the program wasn’t available.  What we did see didn’t look anything like the online demos.

 

Now what?

Well, we found a site called Time4Learning.com that provided the Compass Learning Odyssey program.  We signed up with the idea that if it’s not what we want, it’s not a whole lot of money wasted.  The price is reasonable and you can cancel at any time.  I logged in with the parent account and started looking around, watching the intro videos to get familiar with the interface.  Within a few hours of signing up, I received the user accounts for the kids.   At that point, I used the “Activity Scheduler” to setup a weekly plan for the kids.  I really prefer to print out a weekly plan with individual days, but the output from the scheduler only shows per week, so I’ll learn to deal with it.  I like to have a print out so I can check off each lesson as it is completed.  Even now, I’m struggling with the output.  I don’t know if it is because of the dates I picked, but many of the activities seam to list the final quiz on a Monday.  That doesn’t make sense to go over math activities and then give them a quiz Monday on what they did last week.

 

One of the first things I noticed is that my daughter seems to love the science lessons.  She had the entire years worth of lessons completed in only two days, doing them during her breaks from other subjects.  I asked if she really liked them that much and she explained it wasn’t that, she just wanted to get through the lessons, but you could tell how she clicked on lesson after lesson that she actually liked going through the lessons.  That is what I was looking for.  An interactive online curriculum that kids WANT to do, not that they are forced to do.

 

Now, it’s not all roses.  Many of the lessons have “Resources” attached to them.  These are printable worksheets that need to be completed.  Since my kids aren’t ecstatic about writing, some take much longer than they should.  It also doesn’t help when a lesson has 5 activities (one for each day, each having a worksheet full of writing) and your child keeps going through the lessons.  You end up with 3 worksheets that need to be completed, not that it’s the programs fault my daughter won’t stop doing the lessons.

 

Subjects:

Once you are logged into a child’s account and launch Compass Learning Odyssey, you have 5 subjects to choose from.  LA (Language Arts) Extensions, Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies.  Clicking on a subject takes you to a list of chapters, then lessons, and then activities under each lesson.  Going from activity to activity is very easy.  There is an arrow pointing at the next activity to be completed, with a quiz at the bottom to compete the lesson, and then a test at the bottom to complete a chapter.  You can check the status of their progress by clicking on the “Student Records” link under the “Student Records” tab in the parent admin section.  It will take you to a page where you can look at completed activities for the day, week, or month which also shows the % score of quizzes and tests.  Once they complete a chapter (including quizzes and tests), the icon has a big gold star with “Mastered” on it.  One disappointment was the lack of a few subjects.  Not having a dedicated spelling subject that coincides with the language arts lessons seems like a huge over site that should be easy to include.  Along with spelling, there isn’t dedicated English, history, writing, or music programs.

 

Conclusion:

 

I believe this solution is going to work out very well for us.  We still need to decide on a solution to  the missing subjects, but they aren’t a deal breaker.  Who knows, maybe in the future they will get added to the curriculum.

 

Likes:

– Interactivity!  The lessons that are full on interactive are awesome.  The kids really like them and learn a lot while having fun.

– All in one.  For the most part, almost everything you need is in one nicely designed location.

– Activity Scheduler.  Although I would like to see improvements, what is provided is much better than nothing at all.

 

Dislikes:

– Activity Schedule Output.  For me, I would love to have a suggested schedule.  I understand many people homeschool so they can have a custom schedule, but a standard school year schedule with daily lessons would be awesome.  Along with that, even with the custom schedule, a daily activity list would be nice.

–  Not all the lessons are interactive.  Many of the most boring subjects (for us) are still boring.  Mesopotamia, Egypt, scientific method, etc.  Blah.  I know there has to be a better way to provide this information and keep the kids engaged.

– Missing subjects.  Time4Learning.com provides a spelling list, but it’s a single page with a ton of words in alphabetical order.  It would be nice if there was a weekly spelling list that went along with the stories they would be reading in LA Extensions.  Or, any kind of spelling programs at all.  Right now I have opted to randomly pick words and use spellingcity.com.  There also doesn’t seem to be a dedicated writing/English subject.

– Hard copy material.  I know it’s an online curriculum, but there are some things that are better offline.  Such as reading.  Now, they provide a list of materials you can pick up for 4th grade, but even then, most if it is “provided”.. aka, online reading.  For 2nd grade, it’s all online.  We would have no problems purchasing books that went along with the curriculum.

— James
As a member of Time4Learning, I have been asked to review their online education program and share my experiences. While I was compensated, this review was not written or edited by Time4Learning and my opinion is entirely my own. Write your own curriculum review or learn how to use their curriculum for homeschool, after school study or summer learning.