This post is sponsored by Time4Learning.
This is a story about helping a young girl reach her full potential. It’s about breaking down age and grade-level expectations, and, more importantly, limitations. It’s about not accepting others’ opinions about how far a gifted girl can go. It’s about using Time4Learning as a learning playground for a beautiful mind, a place where a girl can explore new ideas and topics that lead to even more new ideas and topics.
Mari was an inquisitive toddler, constantly asking questions: Why? How? Mary, Mari’s mom’s roommate, tried videos and an online early learning program to engage Mari, but the young student quickly grew bored. Then, they discovered Time4Learning. They used Time4Learning’s pre-K lessons for a couple of days, but Mari said, “I want more.” They tried Time4Learning’s Kindergarten lessons, and again, Mari said, “I want more.” Mary bumped her up to Time4Learning’s first-grade lessons, and Mari found her groove.
Time4Learning as an Afterschool Skill-Builder
Mari continued using Time4Learning as an afterschool enrichment tool after she began attending public school in Boise, Idaho. Every day after school in Kindergarten, Mari would immerse herself for an hour of learning with Time4Learning’s first-grade curriculum.
When Mari was moved into the Gifted and Talented program in first grade, she continued to use Time4Learning part-time as an after-school supplement. Mary set up a start date, end date, and minimum score of 80 to track progress in a simple way. Instead of going to “My Plan,” like a lot of homeschoolers do, Mari would simply go to “My Courses” and choose two subjects per day. Mari would pick whatever two subjects she wanted to work on and then just work through the curriculum in order and at her own pace. She would often choose math and science, her two favorite subjects. Mary did allow Mari to “test out” of certain content she already knew, which helped Mari stay engaged. She would come home from school and say to Mary, “What are we doing today?” Time4Learning was “fun time” for her.
Time4Learning as a Homeschool Curriculum
Mari was in second grade when the pandemic hit in 2020, forcing schools to close across the country. Her school sent home second-grade work, which Mari completed by every Wednesday. Then she worked on Time4Learning on Thursdays and Fridays to complement her schoolwork. Her school changed back and forth between virtual and in-person instruction, and the Gifted and Talented program became nonexistent. The work that was being sent home was at a lower level than Mari’s academic skill level. She quickly grew bored and disengaged. So after a few weeks, Mari’s mother withdrew her from public school. Mari’s mother couldn’t stay home with Mari because of her job, so Mary offered to homeschool Mari while the schools and daycares were shut down.
The transition from using Time4Learning as a supplement to using Time4Learning as a homeschool curriculum has been easy. Now, Mari does three hours of homeschooling a day, using a combination of Time4Learning and a variety of workbooks. So far, she has completed Time4Learning’s first and second-grade curriculums and most of the third-grade curriculum. She has even finished most of the fourth-grade science curriculum. Considered to be in third grade at her school, Mari is reading at a middle school level!
Now that Mari is a full-time homeschooler, her relationship with Time4Learning has changed a bit. The curriculum is no longer optional. She still enjoys the videos and animation but doesn’t like to read and answer questions as much. Mari says she doesn’t enjoy social studies very much and isn’t a fan of writing, but Mary makes sure she does it all. Even in the Gifted class, she didn’t have to work that hard! Mari wants to go back to the “old way” when she attended her Gifted class at school and then explored Time4Learning’s materials when she got home. Mari is hoping to return to the Gifted class at her public school in September. When she does, she says she will continue to use Time4Learning for an hour a day, most days, after school.
Mary has been using Time4Learning with Mari for almost four years and she has learned right along with her, taking a “learn it first” approach with some subjects in case Mari has questions. For the most part, though, Mari is self-directed and self-sufficient and doesn’t need a lot of instruction from Mary. “It is easy enough for [Mari] to do on her own but still challenging to where she [is] learning,” Mary says.
Freedom and Flexibility Make All the Difference
What has Time4Learning done for Mari? “Mari is becoming more and more independent. She has control over the subjects and can start with whatever she wants,” Mary says. “Sometimes she does a week of math and then a week of ELA. Other times she does all subjects in one day. She’s not dependent on anyone else’s schedule.”
Whereas in public school, the teacher has a certain schedule, and all the students follow that schedule, Mari is empowered to guide herself, at her own pace. Sometimes she’ll layer the learning, using her workbooks first, and then Time4Learning, and it will all be connected. For example, if her workbook is about tornadoes, she will watch a video about tornadoes and then do a weather activity on Time4Learning.
Because Mari has been working through the Time4Learning curriculum, “she doesn’t have the gaps that other kids do.” Mary feels that Time4Learning is about a year ahead of the local public schools. What that means is that Mari goes to school with a feeling of, “I know that!” She often helps her peers understand the material. “Being able to answer the teacher’s question gives her a lot of confidence,” Mary says.
Mary especially likes the flexibility of using Time4Learning, both to homeschool and as an after-school supplement. When Mari has questions—which still happens a lot—they get to explore the topic. “In school, you don’t really get to ‘Google it!’” exclaims Mary. Working with a gifted child like Mari, Mary appreciates that they don’t have to shut down that curiosity, that they have the ability to pause, spend a day on a topic that catches Mari’s attention, and then return to the curriculum.
The benefit of having a flexible schedule, thanks to homeschooling, really works well for them. Sometimes instruction finishes by lunch. Sometimes they work in the morning and take a break for lunch while other times they start after lunch or even later in the day. Then they turn around the next day and
start in the morning. Sometimes a relative comes over, and they have the flexibility to stop and pick up where they left off the next day. Fridays can be free days or can be used as catch-up days, bringing flexibility and learning to a whole new level.
The flexibility also allowed Mari to learn while traveling. During the summer, Mary and Mari learned about places by traveling across southern Idaho, finding the Oregon trail crossing of the Snake River, the bridge of Twin Falls, and early settlements of the Native Americans. They hiked around Craters of the Moon, learning about lava and volcanic activity. Mari brought along her Time4Learning on the road.
Now, after learning about space exploration on Time4Learning, Mari is building her own solar-powered Mars rover. “Homeschooling has definitely been a great learning curve for me. My own kids didn’t get homeschooled. I wish there had been Time4Learning when they were in school.”
Additional Homeschool Resources
- Time4Learning Helps a Grandmother Homeschool
- Individualized Instruction Helps One Mom Cater to the Needs of Many
- Meet a Mom Who Switched from Remote Learning to Homeschooling