Time4Learning Hacks for Homeschoolers

Time 4 Learning Hacks for Homeschool

It’s official. We’ve launched into our second year of homeschooling! This last year has been a crazy, thrilling, exhausting, frustrating, infuriating, fulfilling, discouraging, emotional, triumphant, and unreal ride. Are there more adjectives for “all over the map”?

Public school was a struggle for my ADHD son. We had run in’s with his teachers, educators who wouldn’t follow IEP’s, pressure to medicate, exclusion from activities, and an exhausted, heart broken child… who couldn’t find a place to fit in. So we made the decision to homeschool.

At the time I was working outside of the home full time and my 7th grader was completing school work during the day while my husband slept to accommodate his overnight schedule. This was a challenge. I would connect with my son on his secret fb account so that we could chat. I encouraged him to reach out to Grandma and Grandpa online when Mommy wasn’t free. And when I came home I spent time picking up the pieces of the day and making sure everything got completed. It was kind of a disaster for a while — or at least this perfection driven mom thought so. Until I realized it was working. This was actually working!

We needed a curriculum that would act as a full course curriculum, required little supplementing, and would keep the attention of my ADHD son. Tall challenge.

When I began doing research, I came across Time4Learning. Tried the example lesson and showed it to my child who gave me this look like :Duh Mom — I’ve used this before!: Well then.

TIme4Learning Hacks for Homeschoolers
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The program is a lessor of the Compass Learning system that many school systems are already using. He HAD used it before. And he liked it. At $20 a month it was a no-brainer. I couldn’t have purchased interactive curriculum for that cost anywhere else.

There are a lot of amazing things about this curriculum! It can act as a full curriculum aside from writing and spelling and is very easy to use… as the child AND as the parent.

But we did learn a few things over the last year that I’d love to share with you!

Time 4 Learning HACKS for homeschoolers!

Here’s our top 10 hacks. Plus a bunch of bonus hacks… everyone deserves a bonus hack right?

YOUR KID CAN WORK AT DIFFERENT GRADE LEVELS

Coming from a brick and mortar school situation, if you’re in a 7th grade class — you’re being taught 7th grade curriculum. Well, I have a kid who struggles with Math but is accelerated in Language Arts. So don’t be afraid to set grade levels that are different than your child’s “actual” grade. This is the beauty of homeschooling. Working at their own pace. You can do this in the Parent Dashboard under Manage Students / Change Grade Level. Move between grades if you have to. I’ve even found a similar concept lesson in the grade below and changed the grade level long enough for him to do that lesson as a refresher then changed back to the current grade level. All in one day. Don’t be afraid of the grade level number. It’s just a number.

DON’T DO EVERYTHING

There’s a lot of options when it comes to curriculum here. There’s worksheets, odyssey writers, spelling lists, reading material suggestions, etc. MANY T4L parents skip a good amount of these. For example, we don’t do the Odyssey Writers at all and we only do worksheets if he is struggling with a concept. Customize this to your kids liking. Does your little girl LOVE writing on worksheets? Do them! But find something else she doesn’t love to forego.

TAKE NOTES

It’s a well know opinion that the 7th grade Social Studies curriculum is bit intense for the grade level. One of my son’s biggest complaints was processing information from the lesson into the quiz. Taking handwritten notes was impossible for his skill level due to ADHD… BUT… we started using the snipping tool on the computer to grab screen shots of important notes. He categorizes them by date into a document titled ie: Social Studies Notes and can refer to them when he can’t remember something from the lesson.

Bonus Hack: If you have a child that struggles with reading OR gets bored reading text. Try Speak It. It’s a google chrome extension that allows your student to highlight a portion of text and it will read it aloud to them. 

HEADPHONES ARE YOUR FRIEND

One of the joys of homeschooling is teaching your children how to work independently. If you have more than 1 kid or you’d like to not hear the very corny, yet hilariously grade level appropriate, lessons while you’re also working or on the phone. Grab a pair of earphones. This works the other way around too. When my toddler is being extra — toddlery — it helps him to focus on the lesson and block out other sounds.

JOIN THE TIME4LEARNING FACEBOOK GROUP

There’s an amazing group on Facebook called Time4Learning-Families. It is moderated by mom’s who also use the curriculum. There is some amazing knowledge and conversation that happens there. When I first began homeschooling with this curriculum, I was there all the time. It was those families that helped me get my feet under me and learn how to best use the system. One mom emailed me all of the worksheets she had downloaded, shared her daily schedule with me, and even checked in to see how I was doing a few weeks later. If you have a question, someone there will know the answer!

They were also incredibly supportive when I wrote a snarky article about What Not to Say to Homeschool Moms…. lol!

Bonus Hack: If you’re too nervous to reach out via Facebook, T4L also has some YouTube videos. They aren’t the best, but they were a good place to start, so I didn’t feel like a total newb in the group. It also helped me to recognize some of the faces inside the group. 

GET A GOOD INTERNET PROVIDER

I see so many people give up on this curriculum too soon because they have issues with their internet. This curriculum is VERY Flash heavy. Think moving cartoons and talking… so it can be glitchy at times and doesn’t load well. Sometimes the program requires a refresh or can get glitchy. My son is the world’s worst triple clicker… so it’s often his own fault. But teaching your kids how to click and wait and not to click too many times is one of the best pieces of advice I can give for loving this program. Also, the faster your internet… the better you’ll like using it.

Bonus Hack: A ton of homeschoolers use the Puffin Academy app to run Time4Learning on the go. It’s an IOS, iPhone, iPad app that allows you access to the T4L system. Every time we attempt to use it on the go it never wants to behave. So we stopped planning to do school on the run and gave up on Puffin Academy. But it exists and you should try it! Also, other homeschoolers will use tablets with a Windows operating system to run T4L on the internet on the go. Give both a try and see what you like. 

TIme4Learning Hacks for Homeschoolers

QUIZ HACK

So this may be controversial… but… many of the lessons will give the lesson, then you’ll take a quick overview quiz. Then it will give you a review of the lesson and a final quiz. In our house, if you get a 100% on the quiz directly after the lesson then you’ve mastered that skill and can move onto your next subject. We do not require that he do the second quiz if he gets a 100% the first time.

But… all quizzes must have an 80% or above in order to be considered passing. If he doesn’t get an 80% the first time he takes it again. If he doesn’t pass then he goes back to the lesson. The subject for the day is not completed until that last quiz is above an 80%.

SPECIAL NEEDS ACCOMMODATIONS ARE EASIER

So your kid can’t sit AND do school? Ok. Stand up at the island or sit in the swivel chair and move. Your child needs a bigger screen? Awesome. Plug that laptop into an HDMI cable and display that bad boy on your television screen. I also use this hack when I think my kid might be dong other things online instead of school.

Does your child need frequent breaks or a fidget buster… awesome. All of those accommodations — many of us parents fight for while in the brick and mortar school system — simply erase themselves. So if it’s a rough day… stop Math and go do Art. Or let them play in the online game room momentarily or skip Math all together that day. I have saved myself an insane amount of stress, tears, and tongue biting by making this decision for my special needs child.

And here they come… my last and final amazeball hacks. I saved the best for last!

DITCH THE ACTIVITY SCHEDULER

Now bear with me here! I am not saying that it’s not awesome for you if you love it and are already using it. But for me… it doesn’t work! I can’t modify them enough to fit my needs and sometimes I think it separates lessons in the most ridiculous ways. Like, why would you do the lesson on Monday and not take the quiz until Tuesday? It’s silly to me. Take the lesson, quiz and review and final quiz all in the same day. Get it done!

So I participated in the activity scheduler study by requesting that we be able to slide lessons inside of the scheduler, reschedule lessons without messing things up when we have an unexpected bad day or a pop up field trip, etc. But the updates didn’t have any of those features. SO… here’s what we did.

Go to the parent dashboard to the scope and sequence for your child’s grade level.

TIme4Learning Hacks for Homeschoolers

 

And copy and paste all of the lessons from the scope and sequence and place them in a word document. Then add a column to the left side of the lesson. Here’s how I did it.

Click on the green bar until the little crosshatch box shows up. Click on the cross hatch box and this little box should pop up. Then click insert, on the drop down menu click insert left. This will insert this column. You’ll need to drag it over to narrow the column. Each chapter bar will need you to repeat this action. You cannot do this to the whole document at once. Don’t try. It will totally mess up your formatting.

If the lines don’t show up try adding borders to the document.

Step1

Step2

When it’s done it should look like this. I add the word date. If you don’t do the Odyssey writes you could replace this word with “Grade” if you want to be fancy. I don’t bother.

TIme4Learning Hacks for Homeschoolers

Then print the scope and sequence for each of the subjects. Punch holes and place in a binder. This provides you with a lesson planner as well as a grade book for each subject. Use the left column to assign a date to the lesson and the right column to add the score for the quizzes. This way if you have any changes to the schedule it’s easy to see right where you’ve left off.

When I first started out — and was a homeschool overachiever — and frankly afraid I was failing my child — I went in daily and wrote down the grades from the day. Now I check the grades virtually when he says he’s done and print a monthly report and transfer grades.

Our binder is my grade book but it’s also his resource for which lesson he should be working on that day. Use tabs to separate the subjects and voila! Organization at it’s finest!

When you begin to write in it… it looks like this:

TIme4Learning Hacks for Homeschoolers

Store the grade sheets at the end of the year {in case someone from Uncle Sam land comes knocking}.

This has saved me from yelling not nice things at the activity scheduler many times.

Side thought: If you’re more of a computer person than a pen and paper person, you could just as easily add dates and grades within the Word document. I just like seeing it in front of my face.

And here’s my last and final hack…

SEND LESSON PLANS AND WORKSHEETS OFF FOR CHEAP PRINTING

Last year I printed all of the lesson plans, all of the worksheets for each subject, the teacher guides, and anything else I thought I would need with an online printer in black and white. This website 2cent copies charges only 2c per sheet and was also able to 3 hole punch my papers for me for under $30. Win! Saved me a ton of time and ink. It’s honestly one of the smarter things I did while setting up my T4L grade book/ lesson planner.

 

So would I recommend this curriculum? Why yes sir-re I would! Without a doubt. Especially if you have all of these amazing hacks in your thinking cap! These tips will make you a T4L genius and get you well on your way to a successful homeschool year.

TIme4Learning Hacks for Homeschoolers
Click on this image to receive your free demo lesson!

#sonottogether

*This post includes referral links. This means that I will receive a small benefit for referring you to the Time4Learning system. However, I never recommend nor would I spend this much time telling you about a product I don’t use and believe in. I just don’t work that way. 

As a member of Time4Learning, I have been given the opportunity to review their 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. 

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11 Comments

  1. Very interesting! My son is also in seventh grade now. We used T4L when he was in first grade, but he is not into computer based learning. I’m tempted to try it out again though, as I have 5 girls behind him 🙂

  2. Your story is very similar to mine. I work full time as well and we struggled with all of the same school situations. T4L has been wonderful! We are starting school next week and I’m looking forward to the school year!! It’shard being a working mom and homeschooling, but it’s doable!!!
    Great article!

    1. The best advice I can give you is to breathe… I think I tried to hard to hold all of the pieces together that I think I added stress and personal responsibility. I learned that if we had to do Math at 8:00 at night that was ok. And that I couldn’t control what was happening while I wasn’t home. Once I changed me… the rest of the year got so much easier.

  3. I love these! My son is in 5th grade, we just started homeschooling again and honestly T4L is great but I had the same issue as far as lesson plans. I’m glad I read this, thank you!

  4. Brand-new HSM. Thank you for these great tips! I love how you do the activity planning…gonna copy that and how you do your quizzes. Didn’t know we could do that. Still stuck on mindset that someone else makes the rules, not me. I am on week one and already realizing their system would waste my time moving lessons around to accommodate my son’s speed. He is also on the spectrum. But I do love T4L!

  5. I love the advice on skipping the lesson planner and plotting your own schedule. I cannot understand why it is not more flexible. We have tests showing on Monday for material studied the week before. It should be simple to just move it to the previous week, but it is not an option to do so. Frustrating! I am going to take your advice and create my own schedule!

      1. Don’t you think quizzes could be helpful to see if lessons are retained the following week – or even the next day? It’s nice to get it done in one day, but it’s more important that they learn the material, not just check it off!

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