How Do You Find All the Curriculum You Use? (Join the Homeschool Review Crew!)

No matter how long we’ve been homeschooling, we are curious about how other homeschoolers do things. And homeschoolers who are newer to the game obviously have lots of questions! This series will try to answers some of the questions homeschoolers ask each other. Questions about how we handle some of the little details and about our opinions on different aspects of homeschooling. Questions that we all might answer differently because what works great in one family might not work at all in another. 

How do you find all the curriculum you use?

When I started homeschooling, I bought a complete set of first grade curriculum from one of the publishers (I was aware of only three homeschool publishers at the time) and went with it. In my second year, I stuck with that publisher for most things, but found one or two subjects from another publisher. By my third year, I was a free range homeschooler, mixing and matching and cobbling together my own courses. And even then I guess I must have been doing some things that were a little unusual, because I started getting this kind of question.

Fast forward several years during which I continued to look for new and different things to use in our homeschool, and make up custom courses, and that’s when I was introduced to the Homeschool Review Crew. (At that time it was called The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.) This was a group of homeschool bloggers that reviewed curriculum and resources for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s website and blog. I joined and boy, did I ever find a lot of really neat curriculum!! That is the short answer to the question of how I find the stuff we use in our homeschool. But there’s more to it than that, because the Crew exists to share these finds with other homeschoolers too. Obviously, I write reviews (which you can find on the My Reviews pageor using the TOS Homeschool Crew Reviews label, or by checking out the current year reviews in the sidebar); and I write about the other curriculum and resources we use too. Every Crew review I write is just one of fifty to one hundred other reviews written by Crew members, so you can always find other opinions too. Just go to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to find all those reviews – not just the things I reviewed, but tons of other products as well!

But maybe you’d like to be involved in writing reviews and getting to try out new curriculum for free! If so, the Crew is now accepting applications to join us for 2019 – stop by the Crew blog and find out all the details. Or read on for some more questions and answers about reviewing with the Crew.

What do Homeschool Review Crew members do?

We agree to use – really use – homeschool products and write reviews based on our real life experience with the products. We are real homeschooling families and we actually use the curriculum and resources in our homeschools for several weeks before we share our reviews on our blogs. Our honest and thoughtful reviews are sought out by many publishers of homeschool resources, and we do more than just browse a sample. We get to use the full versions of the products, and we’re committed to genuinely using them regularly so we get to know how these things really work in our real world. And by the way, the products are ours to keep even after our reviews are posted. We get to review products from veteran big name homeschool publishers and from new innovators and family businesses just starting out. And it’s not all curriculum – often we get to review things like audio dramas from Heirloom Audio, or art kits, or even games.

Do you ever review something you don’t love?

Sure, we can’t possibly love everything we try! We do have the chance to give feedback on which products we most want to try and which ones we can’t use or don’t think are a good fit. I’d say that most of the time, we find lots of good things about the resources we review, even if they aren’t a perfect fit. We write reviews that are honest, explaining why it didn’t work out for our homeschool, as well as all the things that are great about it. When we find something we DO love – we keep using it, we keep talking about how much we like it, and we even become loyal return customers.

How do you use it all?

Well, it does depend on the ages and personalities of our students. I did a lot more reviews when I had younger students, and we were willing to give all kinds of things a try. The last couple of years, I’ve had just one high schooler, so I had to be picky about how many extras we try to fit in. Some products we review work well as supplements, so we can add them to our regular line-up fairly easily. When we review something that requires more time, we might put something else on hold for a bit, or even cobble the review product into our current study.

Does the Crew offer anything else?

It sure does! There’s way more to the Crew than just reviewing curriculum! We have a private forum where all the news and information about the reviews is shared, and it’s also a home base for this friendly and helpful group of homeschool bloggers to get to know each other. We talk about the reviews we’re working on and ‘business’ things, and we also share funny stories, prayer requests, and discuss all kinds of homeschool-related things. We also talk about non-homeschool things! It’s a supportive and diverse group that develops a special bond each year. We do our best to help new Crew members learn the ropes and feel welcome!

The Crew blog hosts blog hops and round-ups, and there are guest post opportunities as well. Crew members learn more about blogging and social media from each, and support each other in the various link-ups that we host. The art link-up I co-host, Virtual Refrigerator, was originally started by a Crew member; and many Crew members join my weekly link-up, Homeschool Highlights.

Another perk of being on the Crew is a subscription to!

Would you like to join us?

Here’s the thing – my remaining days with the Crew are few, because I’m almost finished homeschooling. I would love to be able to pass the torch to other homeschoolers who would like to be part of this dynamic and supportive group! The Homeschool Review Crew is looking to expand in 2019, doubling the number of reviewers, so now is the perfect time to check out the Homeschool Review Crew blog to find out more. Go take a look at this post on the Crew blog: Homeschool Review Crew Needs You to see the requirements and the link to the application.

Leave a comment and let me know if you apply to the Crew or have any questions about the Crew – or just leave a homeschool question you’re curious about.

This post is linked at the Homeschool Linky Party on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.
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