The Old Schoolhouse has started the process towards choosing their 3rd Review CrewS. Yeah, that it plural. There are going to be two of them next year... one focused on the younger ages, and one on the older ages. You have about a month to get some demographic information in to TOS. You can read about it here.
Why should you try out? Well, I can tell you that being on the Homeschool Crew has been a tremendous blessing for me this past year, and I really look forward to continuing the adventure.
But last year, when trying to decide whether or not this was something I wanted to do, well... I wasn't so sure. My fears:
- That I'd end up having to use a lot of materials that don't really fit in with my goals and plans for my kids.
- That I just didn't have a big enough blog (I mean, I had NO followers, and probably didn't get more than 20 hits a week)
- That it would be just too much stress and I really didn't want more
And how did that work out?
Well, the first point -- yeah, I have ended up using some materials that don't really fit in with my goals and plans for my kids. But for the most part, either we didn't really have to spend that much time with the materials, really, or it turned out that it was exactly what we needed.
Some of the vendors have given us choices. Bright Ideas Press for instance (one of the major reviews I've done this year) had us list two products we were interested in reviewing. Some vendors have allowed us to "opt in" so if we don't want to change our phonics approach, we wouldn't receive Rocket Phonics, for instance.
But the biggest thing... the Crew leaders put a lot of prayer into the process. A lot of prayer.
As for the stress, if you have been reading my reviews over the past eight months or so, you have seen that I have reviewed a LOT of materials. Having kids spanning a pretty good sized age range has meant that I have received something from about 95% of the vendors. I think right now, I'm sitting at 49 vendors so far this year (with some of those sending multiple products). (And for next year, having two crews will make a big difference in cutting that down... everybody won't get products from Kinderbach for instance.)
Yes, that has meant that at times I have a pretty lengthy list of "to write" posts. Yes, sometimes that is stressful. But it has not completely taken over our lives.
As for having a "good enough" blog -- I still feel woefully inadequate there. I don't get anywhere near the traffic that some of my crewmates get.
The other concern I know many have is whether or not they can write a "good enough" review. Please, don't make a decision based on reading my blog though. Go check the TOS Review Crew blog, pick a product you are interested in, and read through a couple dozen of the linked reviews. You'll see that some people write short & sweet reviews. Some have incredibly organized reviews that follow the same basic format, giving pros, cons, and ratings. Some people give tons of information about how it worked in their family (uhhh, like me?) and some don't. What you won't see is that some of the crew members don't even have blogs -- they share information with a local homeschool group, for instance.
If being on the Crew even remotely intrigues you, I'd recommend going to the website, praying about it, and filling out the demographic information. Maybe you'll be able to get a couple free TOS products to review. And if you bathe the issue in prayer, you won't make the Crew if it isn't what God wants for your family.