Anyone who has read my blog over the last couple of years knows that we are fans of Time4Learning. Time4Learning offers online courses in several core curriculum subjects. We used it for 2 years both as a main curriculum for math, and as a supplement for language arts, science, and social studies. Ben loved it and I loved it as well, especially for the independence in his homeschooling Ben gained during those 2 years.
About a year ago, I noticed the launch of a new product from Time4Learning, called Time4Writing. I was immediately intrigued, but had not yet looked at it closely enough to see how it was different from Time4Learning or if it was something we wanted to try. I was a little concerned about the cost, too.
So, needless to say, I was ecstatic when offered the opportunity to review it!
We found that Time4Writing differs greatly from Time4Learning. Rather than core curriculum, with a monthly fee, for PreK-8th grade, there are several writing courses, at a flat fee, offered for elementary through high school. Each course lasts for 8 weeks.The other big difference is the addition of a live teacher, who grades the assignments and gives feedback to the students. You can see a brief overview of the program here.
Being in the 4th grade, Ben was enrolled in one of the elementary courses: Elementary Paragraphs. Other options for elementary students include:
- Elementary Grammar
- Elementary Sentences
- Elementary Essay
Elementary Paragraphs begins with the basics: topic sentences, supporting sentences, and closing statements, each week building on the week before, until the student is writing complete paragraphs. It then covers conjunctions and adjectives, helping the student learn to make his paragraphs more interesting and descriptive. Throughout the first 6 weeks, writing prompts are used, but that goes away in the last couple weeks of the course, so that the student is writing more creatively.
We are currently finishing up week 4 of this 8-week course. Each week’s focus begins with a video lesson, followed by several assignments throughout the week, including quizzes and writing assignments that are completed and submitted online. For the writing assignments, Ben’s teacher, Ms. Cady has graded his work. Ms. Cady has been very helpful in offering Ben feedback for his assignments in a positive and helpful way. She is always available through email, for any questions or concerns, as well. Ben is enjoying all aspects of the course and will follow through with it until the end.
For my reluctant writer, this course has been very helpful. His reluctance stems from the mechanics of handwriting, not lack of creativity. Since handwriting has always been difficult for Ben, being able to use the computer to write has been a big hit. He enjoys the video lessons, and I have found them to be very clear and age-appropriate. The information from each video lesson is also available in written form to refer back to. After every written assignment, Ben eagerly awaits Ms. Cady’s feedback and his grade. Who knew he would enjoy getting grades so much! And just like our experience with Time4Learning, I love the independence the course gives Ben in his school work. The best and most important part, his writing has improved already, and we’re not finished yet!
The only negative comment I have about this program is the cost. Not that it isn’t worth $99, it’s just that for most homeschoolers, $99 for an 8-week class may be cost-prohibitive. Quite honestly, it’s one of the main reasons we had not already tried Time4Writing. I was still in that mode of trying to justify the cost. That said, I am very glad we were able to try it. Ben will be completing the last 4 weeks, and I will probably use the next level in the spring, after he’s had more practice writing paragraphs.