This year was our second (and last for now) year reviewing for the Schoolhouse Review Crew. We reviewed over 50 products this year, and that was a lot of fun products and a lot of work for us to do! So, I thought I would give you guys my top 10 list for this year, so that you’ll see what was a hit with the kids and me.
The first three products are products that I personally used a bunch and that helped me in my homeschooling journey, so they were, for me, the most important products that we reviewed this year.
1. Successful Homeschooling Made Easy–One of the things that I’ve written extensively about was my struggle in balancing both my younger kids and older kids in my homeschool, as well as providing a relaxed and happy learning atmosphere that is good for everyone. When I was reviewing this e-course, I learned how to put into place a literature hour and number hour for the children that everyone was able to participate in on their own levels. This turned my school day 100% happier. I was also able to slowly learn to integrate fun things into our day and to really evaluate what was important to me. This made me remember what was important to me as a homeschooler and really helped me with the homeschool burnout that I had been dealing with a big part of the year prior.
2. The Busy Mom’s Guide to Daylight–Although I didn’t actually use much of the advice about schedules and organizing that St. John writes in her book, I really leaned into the inspiration of the why I am homeschooling and re-examined what my motives were in homeschooling my children. I was also so inspired that I bought the book The Busy Mom’s Guide to Romance. Both have seriously helped me re-examine my motivations and realize that my homeschool was in need of a major re-organization.
3. IEW Deluxe Combo Student/Teacher Writing Package–This package was a godsend to me–not in the writing and grammar program for the kids–it was the teaching DVDs and bonus audio resources that I really needed. I needed Andrew Pudewa’s calm lectures on motivation, nurturing competent communicators, spelling, and conquering corrupt culture. They enabled me to turn loose and set free of some of the rigid comparisons that I was making with other people and begin to realize that it was okay for me spend two hours on a read-aloud and to make school a part of my family culture, as opposed to some rigid thing that my children were beginning to hate. I was also able to be more relaxed in the way that I corrected my children and so many other things. This has been the best thing for me as a teacher ever!! I’m still listening to audios and reading recommended books from Pudewa’s lectures.
The next four items that I have on my lists are each individual child’s favorite product for the year. They all have different ones, as befits their personalities, and I love hearing the things that they chose.
4. In Freedom’s Cause–This was Firecracker’s favorite. He has listened to it back to back so many times that he probably knows it by heart. (His second favorite product for the year was With Lee in Virginia from the same vendor.) he has listened to it so many times that we’re currently completing a Psalm 23 lapbook and he’s read the Psalm over and over again because he has been inspired to love that Psalm from William Wallace’s voice.
5. Reading Kingdom–Rose is 8 and couldn’t read very well at all until about 3 months ago. It’s all beginning to click into place, and Rose and I both credit the confidence that she has built from the relaxed pace and gentle structure of Reading Kingdom. She loves the program and considers it fun to work through the lessons.
6. CTC Math–This is Monkey’s favorite. He’s got a math brain and is almost finished with the kindergarten level of this program. The two older children have also went back and reviewed some simple math concepts and filled in some of the gaps that they were suffering from. This program is gentle and simple for math and most lessons take 15 minutes or less at the levels my children are working at, making math a breeze each day.
7. La La Logic--This was Owlet’s favorite. She’s worked through all 100 of the online weeks more than once. We’ve done some of the worksheets and activities, pictures studies and story studies. It’s really been a pleasant way for her and Monkey to do a little bit of gentle school.
Of all that we reviewed, these four resources are the only ones that get weekly use in our house. There were a couple of other resources that I wanted to mention that I thought were just spectacular and so very helpful for us.
8. IndoctriNation–This also really helped me feel a lot more clarity on why we homeschool, and it also helped me combat the “salt and the light” argument that my public school friends so often use. I’ve always thought it was a bunch of bunk, but I never had an argument against it to use, and their argument sounded so Biblical that I would sometimes even feel guilty for homeschooling. Never again.
9. Apologia Field Trip Journal–This is beautiful and easy to make your field trips and nature study into a scrapbook. It helps us remember the learning on our field trips, but my 8 year old still doesn’t feel like it’s schoolwork to fill that out. Perfect resource for our home.
10. Teaching with Games–I didn’t realize I needed this little DVD course until I watched it and read through the ebook. I use it a little at home, but this has made fun and teaching in my Bible study class and Sunday school a breeze. I can come up with so many games almost on the spur of the moment when I wouldn’t have even thought to before. I love the other two components of the resource bundle I received, but Teaching with Games was a highlight of the year for me.
That’s my top ten for our product reviews for the year. What are your favorite products you’ve been using? What’s changed your homeschool philosophy? Do you want to see the other Review Crew members takes on their favorite products of the year? If you click the banner below, you’ll see the Crew’s overall favorite products for the year, as well as a link up of different Crew members’s favorites.