Tuesday, June 1, 2010

So Long TOS Crew!

This is it! My year long commitment to The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew has come to an end!

It was an experience I'm happy to have had and one I'm even happier to have completed!

I definitely learned a few things along the way. I learned that roughly 75 products spread over one year is more than one product to review per week. That is something I should have grasped before my journey began.

I learned that there are a whole lot of web-based math products out there- more than the world probably needs all at once.

I learned that some vendors out there pretend to be homeschool oriented and friendly, but they're really not.

I learned that there are a whole lot of products being marketed toward homeschoolers and a lot of it isn't spectacular.

I learned that large numbers of reviews is not the kind of blogging I enjoy.

I learned that sometimes my blogging audience is appreciative of reviews and let's me know when a product speaks to them- thank you.

I learned that if you are loyal to a particular brand of homeschooling (style) or curriculum, then using a whole bunch of other products is going to be a distraction to your schooling.

I learned that reviewing electronic memberships or products with one to four week access or even longer is no fun. That just feels like work.

I learned that being true to your homeschooling colors and blog audience greatly influences your opinion of a product.

I learned that being congruent with who I am as a homeschooler sometimes means voicing unpopular statements about a product.

I learned that sometimes vendors don't like that.

I learned that there are some really talented folks out there who share their labor of love with the homeschooling community and it was my distinct pleasure to have encountered it.

I learned that some vendors have outstanding personal customer service and some do not (see comment on pretender vendors).

I learned that the TOS Crew is a unique opportunity to see some products you might not otherwise encounter.

I learned that others on The Crew had a really different experience from mine and that's ok.

I learned that The Crew commitment was more than I should have bitten off to chew.

I learned about a few really great products I would have missed out on and for that I am thankful.

Overall, I'm glad I tried it. Most of the time. But I'm equally as happy that my voyage has come to an end.

And now for a fun look at my favorite Crew Reviews. Without a doubt, these were my very favorite products for which I am so thankful to have participated in this review year:

So, thank you to The Old Schoolhouse for the opportunity to journey with you over past year on the second voyage of the TOS Homeschool Crew.

As you sail on into your third voyage without me, may your mornings be gray (but not black) and your evenings red and calm.



jennybell said...

Oh, you should put links on your favorite reviews list. Thanks!

Heidi said...

Thanks, Heather. That was a fun and interesting perspective on the Crew. I'm glad you found some products that you really liked. I hope you'll look back on this year with fondness. :)

Heather said...

I'll go back and add the links Jenny!

Thanks Heidi...I will!

Anonymous said...

Your blog readers could see the mammoth amount of work you had to do--whew! I very much appreciated your honesty when evaluating a project. You reminded me of a movie reviewer or secret shopper-sometimes honesty hurts. Hopefully they will use the feedback to tweak their products and make it better.
When reviews are all positive you tend to not trust them.
Thanks for all your hard work!!!!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading your reviews. Thanks for all your hard work and honest opinions!

Julie said...

I have appreciated your honesty in your reviews. I wondered if some reviewers were worried to give their honest opinions. I am also excited to see more "you" posts! You have inspired me with your sweet family!


Shonda said...

I loved what you learned and I love your style, friend! You're awesome!

Jennifer said...

Thanks for posting this. This year will be my first as a crew member. This was helpful in thinking ahead.

School for Us said...

Thanks for this post. And, congratulations on being done! :-)

I had thought about trying out to be part of the TOS Crew... and I'm glad I didn't. But, I do enjoy reading the reviews by TOS Crew members... like you! Thanks again.

purple squirrel said...

Heather~ I'll miss you on the Crew, but SOOOO glad that I know where to find you! :) You rock, my friend!

I agree that it was a long and somewhat overwhelming year~ you also ended up on many more vendors' lists than some~ Love the age range of your kiddos! :D
Blesings, friend~

Anonymous said...

Let me be clear from the beginning: I could never blog. But even IF I could blog, I could never find the gumption to try-out new stuff and write reviews.

Holy Cow! I can barely get school done as it is.

You're a brave one Dubya.


Diane said...

I often wondered how those of you that were on the Crew were able to get through all the products sent to you. I think everyone did a great job. I can see where it might disrupt an entire year of school.

Lori said...

That is an enormous commitment! I am thankful for all of your reviews this year, and am using "All About Spelling" in large part due to your input. I have to admit to loving your "everyday school" posts most of all, but I appreciate the work you do reviewing products. Your honesty is also appreciated- it is tough to know where to invest when it comes to curriculum and a trusted review helps.

Jim said...

Hi Heather, Several folks have come to my website from your blog. I knew something urged them to do it. It's nice to be among your favorites. Thanks for your kind words about Sarah's Wish. I support homeschooling 100%. I was invited to the home of one of Sarah's fans for dinner last night. I told them the emails I get from homeschoolers are always well written which is not the case with the public school students. A few are very good, but homeschoolers always write great. I know my grandchildren are getting a wonderful education because of my children's dedication to homeschooling. You have a great blog. Jim Baumgardner

Heather said...

Aw thanks Jim! We loved Sarah here and I hope to get the rest when we can.

It was a pleasure to read Sarah and I still enjoy your newsletters. I will tell the kids you popped in!


Tracey said...

It seems as though you have learned many things.

I think your reviews were very fair and well-written.

I am sure the crew will be sorry to see you go.

Nancy Ann said...

I love your blog and I must be honest and say I am glad you won't be doing TOS review anylonger. I love to just hear what your family is doing and all the great ideas you have and experiences. I am proud of you for completing your commitment even though it sounds like it was really tough sometimes!!

Heather said...

You and me both Nancy Ann!!

Kela said...

OH MY!!!!!!!! HOW in the world did I totally miss you and we were on the same Crew Year together!!!???