I have been blessed to be a reviewer for The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew for two voyages. I began as an alternate for TOS Homeschool Crew in the fall of 2008 as a brand new homeschooler to a child on the autism spectrum. I was invited to stay on as a First Mate during our second voyage that began in the summer of 2009. And I'll be staying on a third year reviewing products for younger learners from a special needs perspective as we begin reviewing products again in July.
The 2008/2009 review year boosted my confidence. I received a lot of products that showed me that I could be successful with my daughter, products that showed me how she learns. I loved that. I needed that.
The 2009/2010 review year has been different. Challenging. And not in a good way. The products I've received have shown me where my daughter's gaps and splinter skills are. Seeing how far behind she is in some areas is discouraging, and I have struggled to remain positive and upbeat at times. I needed to see her challenges clearly - and today, I have a much better picture of them. I am thankful for that. And I'm glad my first year had me feeling successful with her before a year of challenges.
From a mom who is homeschooling one (of three), and that one has unique learning needs and challenges, please know that I do have some favorites from the year. Like last year, my top ten list has more than ten items. ;) Allow me to spotlight them for you in no particular order:
All About Spelling Beehive Reader and What Am I? Reader: I think anything Marie Rippel develops is a winner. She thought of everything when she created her readers, and they can be used as a stand-alone or with All About Spelling.
Sarah's Wish: Jim Baumgardner took me to another place and another time with this book. I bought the next two in the series and didn't have time to read them during the Crew voyage. They're on my list for summer while I'm in between review voyages. I have to order the next book in the series, too (there's a new one out).
StudyPod Book Holder: I love this in the kitchen to hold my cookbook open while I'm cooking.
abcteach: I can always find something to use, and quickly. abcteach is a helpful time saver.
The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling: Deb Bell and Apologia gave me an incredible resource, for both research and direction and quick reference.
Family Mint: FREE service that works like a virtual bank to track allowance, saving, donation to charity. We have begun to use this more and my children like to see their allowance add up.
Virginia Soaps and Scents: VSS's soaps are fabulous - my eldest and I love them! We were able to stock up at a homeschool convention in April. Lemon verbena is my new favorite!
Schoolhouse Planner: Another incredible resource, and the first place I look when I need a particular form or chart. A time saver. I am kicking myself because I didn't buy the brand new one when it was $16 off.
Dollar Homeschool's Eclectic Education Series is giving me an education in how foundations for academics develop and emerge. In a year where I became cognizant of gaps in my child's development, EES gave me concrete ways to remediate those gaps. And it is something I wouldn't have known about without the Crew.
Madsen Method English For Life gave me hope that we will persevere and succeed. See, hear, do, say - and in a developmental fashion. Love it!
Grapevine Studies: Stick figure through the Bible? Who knew?!!! The kinesthetic component of stick figuring along with the lessons is brilliant for any learner, and especially for one who needs movement in order to learn.
Maestro Classics is a gentle, yet quality introduction into all things classical music, and is just fun to hear.
AVKO is another resource for me to educate ME about how to teach my girl.