Before the pandemic, it was normal practice for Boca Raton resident Nikki Warris. Her two daughters, 5-year-old Natalie and 8-year-old Lexi, attended physical schools and her tutoring business, which she opened in 2018, grew steadily.
Fast forward to March 2020, when the pandemic forced schools to switch to distance learning, and Nikki’s personal and professional life was about to change, just as it did for millions of parents around the world. From the beginning, Nikki knew that distance learning wouldn’t work for her family, so she started homeschooling her girls.
As a former public school teacher with a secondary English education diploma, Nikki has quite a bit of experience when it comes to teaching children and helping them succeed. In fact, it is her passion. Today she provides tutoring and homeschooling to nearly 20 students, ranging from primary to secondary schools. In recent months, with an increasing number of parents unhappy with remote learning environments, she has been asked more questions than ever before.
Watch our second episode of “Tales from the Homeschool Front” with Nikki to hear her story and advice for families.
What she hears most from parents is that they seek a better alternative to the learning experiences children are exposed to with crowded Zoom-type virtual classrooms. Nikki has become so passionate about homeschooling that she has made it her goal to educate parents about its benefits. “For those who (homeschooling) is an option, it is better for your child to have some form of individualized learning than in a class of 20 to 30 students,” she says.
As a teacher who has spent several years in the classroom, Nikki understands how difficult it can be to give each student your undivided attention. As a school teacher, she often became frustrated when she couldn’t spend one-on-one time with her students because there simply wasn’t enough time.
That’s why she’s become a big advocate of homeschooling and Time4Learning, which she uses for both homeschooling and after-school skills building through her tutoring. Nikki discovered Time4Learning when she was researching an after-school tutoring curriculum online to teach her students. She loves Time4Learning’s low cost of membership, especially as many parents are struggling financially due to job losses and other hardships caused by the pandemic. Some parents came to her after paying thousands of dollars for ineffective home education programs and curricula. “They were lost and it was difficult and they were frustrated,” she says.
Because Nikki helps students of different ages and skill levels, she loves the control she has with Time4Learning. According to Nikki, Time4Learning gives her the tools and resources to provide individualized learning, which is at the heart of her tutoring. “Everyone doesn’t learn the same way,” she says. Some of its students use Time4Learning full-time, while others only use it for certain courses or topics.
“I love that you can choose the material instead of having to do everything,” she says. She can preview lessons, have students skip material on concepts they have mastered, and determine what is a pass.
Nikki finds the activity planner particularly useful for a number of reasons. “It (Time4Learning) does it all for you,” she says. “You just entered your dates and what you want.” A few clicks and her students will have an easy to follow schedule of the number of activities to complete each week.
According to the Time4Learning member, the records are another time (and space) saver. “It’s just phenomenal to store all of their data without having to keep paper.” Additionally, the reporting helps her track each student’s progress and identify where there might be a ‘disconnect’ from material. If so, they can easily go back and do the lessons again, or she can discuss it with the student.
For those parents concerned about screen time, Nikki believes that as long as you include outside activities like hands-on projects, things will balance themselves out. That’s one of the reasons Nikki loves Time4Learning’s Science curriculum, as it contains tons of ideas for hands-on activities. She also includes physical education, music and art in the schedules of the students. These are activities that families can integrate into their own home school plans or complete within a group setting.
Her older students are big fans of the latest updates to the high and high school curriculum, including the electives and the wide variety of courses. Rather than just scientific or social studies, Time4Learning offers earth sciences, biology, chemistry, American history, and ancient world history, just to name a few.
For her youngest daughter, Natalie, who started kindergarten, the transition to homeschooling was easier. She’s now learning to read, and while she uses Time4learning as her core curriculum, Nikki says it’s important to include external reading as well. She uses leveled books and motivates her little one by giving her an award for each level she completes.
Initially, her eldest daughter, Lexi, who she says is a social butterfly, wasn’t thrilled about being away from her friends, but with more students joining them in their homeschool studies, things have become easier.
Nikki wants other families to feel empowered too, regardless of their experience. According to her, nothing compares to homeschooling and the one-on-one instruction it offers. If you’re on the fence thinking about making the switch, Nikki says, ‘Just do it. What’s best for your child is what to do. “