Thursday, October 20, 2016

Being Part of the Homeschool Review Crew

It's hard to believe that we are coming to the end of our 4th year on the Homeschool Review Crew.  (If the name is a little unfamiliar, it's because the Crew had been called the "Schoolhouse Crew"  since our family joined, but we've recently changed our name to better reflect being part of the homeschool community.) When we first became Crew members, Jude and I were bumbling our way through Kindergarten.  Four years later, thanks to the Crew, Jude has made it well into fourth grade, and we've even successfully graduated one surprise-homeschooled high schooler! When I was asked to write about why the Crew has been a blessing for us, I realized I could probably write an entire dissertation!

What being on the Crew means ...

People say, "You get to try stuff for free, right?" Well, sort of.  It's true that the costs aren't coming out of my wallet, but a good review does take time to write.  I'm the first person to say that time is valuable. That's why I choose not to go to six grocery stores in search of the rock bottom price on things but instead use the time to write reviews.  Looking back through past reviews, we have tried over two hundred products! That's a lot of time invested.

What stands out most is we have test-driven at least twelve phonics and reading programs over the years. When I think about what it would have cost to purchase them and then find most didn't work for Jude, I know I would have given up long before we got to number six or seven. We've paid for them in sweat-and-sometimes-tears equity.

Time spent on Crew reviews are a big reason why we've been able to travel so much over the over the last few summers. Reviewing has allowed us to leave the product's monetary value in our homeschooling budget. This means that instead of buying full curricula for each boy, we've been able to shift money into our "Adventure Fund." I'll trade the 20 or so hours it takes me to learn a new program, take and edit pictures, and write a review for the opportunity to tour America!

But being part of the Crew isn't just about getting "free" stuff or the chance to travel.  After trying all that I found easily, as well as some "new to us" programs with the Crew, I was at the point of giving up when it was time to volunteer for yet another new phonics and reading program. I said, "I'm so burnt out.  I'll never give up on Jude, but I'm tired of failing. He is tired of failing.  If you want us, we'll do it; if you don't need us, I'm ok with that."  The Crew leadership decided they wanted us, so we reviewed Essential Skills Advantage. It was the one that clicked, and Jude took off like a rocket.  It was the right program, at the right time, but the confidence booster of being chosen was more than.  It wasn't one more "Well, why do you need to try program number nine? Maybe it's not the programs; maybe it's him.  Or, maybe it's you, and you can't teach him."  It was somebody saying, "You can do this. You have it in you, and I know your brain is fried, but I know you'll still give it all you have. Just try.  You got this!"  Calling ourselves the "Homeschool Review Crew" isn't just a catchy title.  The Crew is a group that works as a crew, working together and lifting each other up.

Many of the things we've reviewed have been programs I had never heard of, too, but have made a huge difference for us.  Celia got involved with one review, testing out online violin lessons for six weeks.  We were so impressed that we decided to continue with the lessons.  (This is where having tried things lets us know what works or doesn't so we spend actual cash wisely.)  Three years later,  she's now a first chair violin in our local youth string ensemble, thanks in large part to her online teacher, Jeremy.  Late last spring, she added piano lessons with Antonia, another MacPhail instructor.  Two trophies for successful violin jury exams reside on our piano; our house is now filled with the music being practiced preparing for juries in both instruments.  Without the Crew, we'd never have known about this program, and it's made a huge difference in her life.  On our trip this past summer, we stopped in Minneapolis, and she got to meet her teachers at their studio. I practically had to tie a string to her ankle, so she didn't float away from the sheer joy of playing with them in person.

I'm always surprised at the variety of things we get to review.  We've tried out programs for every grade, from preschool to high school. Of course, most are curriculum related, but it's not just "three Rs."  Science, music, history, and foreign languages are all things we've taught using review items. We've also expanded how we think of learning.  It's not just pencil-and-paper We've also reviewed inspirational books, a few "pampering just for Mom" items,  and even a company that creates beautiful diplomas! Many people talk having "child-led" homeschools; we are Crew-led learners!

The Crew is currently looking for new members!  If you're a blogger and homeschooler, I encourage you to explore becoming part of the Crew.  If you meet the guidelines and think you would be a great addition to the Crew, you can find the application to join here.  Tell them Meg F. sent you!

 If you're not quite convinced that the crew is right for you, think about it, and then please read what other members are saying about their experiences by clicking this link: What being on the Crew means...  (The link will be live on Friday, October 22 at 8 am Eastern.)

©2012- 2016 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover