The reviews I am posting here are reviews I have written and was not paid, they are simply, honest-to-goodness awesome products that I have found have helped my kids/students at some point in their educational careers.
Switched on Schoolhouse~
There was a point when all of my kids did Spectrum (seen below) and while I still like the workbooks, the kids did get tired year after year of doing workbooks. When my oldest hit fifth grade, we made the switch – to Swtiched on Schoolhouse, from Alpha Omega Publications, and I have got to say, we have been completely won over by this. As a homeschooling mom, now with children in sixth, fourth, third and kindergarten, and a preschooler, I love how much time I save with Switched on Schoolhouse. Granted, it does not work for the younger kids as it does not start until third grade, but my third grader just started, and we haven’t even officially started our school year and she begs to do her homework because she loves it. She likes that it automatically checks her work and applauds her for a job well done, instead of her needing to bring it to me or wait for me to come home for it be checked. For words she doesn’t know, (she’s third grade, but she’s advanced, only six-years-old!) it will read them to her and there are videos to explain concepts to her she doesn’t understand. We do also use other products by Alpha Omega for our younger children, our third grader last year used Horizons, and loved it for the most part, except it does need a parent to explain concepts and I am not always the at home parent, so for our family, it didn’t work as well as it likely could have, which is why this year we are going be using LifePacs, by Alpha Omega, which is supposed to be like Horizons, in workbook format, but more independent learning based.
When I decided to start homeschooling my kids, I felt totally overwhelmed with the choices on curriculum. I eventually found one that I liked. It had all the subjects I was looking for, answer sheets and rewards at the end. It even had tests within some of the books, and sells Test Prep and Test books as well. One of the things I thought would come in handy for organizing their work was the fact that each of the subjects has their own color for the covers.
My kindergartner also started school this year and was really happy to receive books that looked exactly like what the Big Kids get. True, we have had times when one child grabs one that belongs to another, but it is always quickly resolved, because even though all kids have the same colors for the same subjects, there is a number for their grade, or a K for Kindergarten, at the top in the corner. I also feel that sticking with one company for all of the kids and subjects makes it simpler for teacher when it comes to grading and planning without having to work with different methods in different companies.
As you can see from the photo below of all of the books for my kids in their three different grades, the curriculum we use is Spectrum, in addition to supplemental projects and games.
Grotto Grips for Handwriting~
So a small issue that came up in homeschooling my first grader back when he was a kinder, but also something that I am sure every parent encounters with their child at some point.
There comes a point in time when little hands that used to hold a death grip on chunky toddler-size crayons attempt to master the skills used to correctly hold and use a pencil. Or for my son, comfortably, not correctly. While he loved school and would easily breeze through double or more of the work assigned to him, there were times he would refuse to do any work on the basis that it hurt.
After he made this complaint, I started watching how he used his pencil, which was using the same toddler death grip or a quasi-toddler/adult grip, and then I started looking into products that would allow him to still do his homework, minus the pain he was starting to associate with it. This was when I found the grotto grip.
I looked on Amazon and read lots of reviews from different companies. Surprisingly there were many different offers and companies that sold grippers of some sort and of different shapes and materials. The one I ultimately purchased (and purchased again when seeing what a hit it was in my house) is linked to below:
When my kids first tried these grippers, I did have to remind them several times to fix their grips, simply by saying the phrase, “how do we hold our pencils?” and they would immeadiately fix the grip and no longer needed them after only a couple of weeks with consistent use. This product worked so well literally that when they came in the mail, my husband actually applauded how much better they felt for him, ergonomically, and requested the green ones for himself. Seeing as my husband was definitely not sold on homeschooling when we started this journey, his praises of this products and my attempts to help the kids really meant a lot to me.
As a strange side note, my children have also found that these work for erasers, though that is something I obviously discourage, considering that’s not the intended use which we still need them for, but it is good to know that when you are done with them, there is still one more way to use them if you are so inclined.