I thought I would write a little more about the process of becoming a member of the crew and what it is like in the trenches so to speak.
I applied last year with apprehension. I was scared, out of my comfort zone and trying to push myself to do something which felt hard. In order to be considered for the crew I had to write a sample review of a nature study curriculum. I was encouraged to be natural and to be honest. I was required to follow the structure set out by the review leadership, ensuring legal obligations were met. You can find that first review here.
Once I was accepted I was given a mentor who was there to help in any way possible and to check my first few reviews to ensure each criteria was met. My mentor was there to see me through the first few weeks and beyond if necessary. I found that everything was so easy to understand and the expectations so clearly set out that I really did only need her for the first couple of weeks, however it was very reassuring to know I had someone to go to if I was floundering or confused in anyway.
The review process is as follows:
- A vendor is named on the forum, with links to their website, along with information regarding the expectations of the reviewers. For example it may say that the reviewer must use the product a certain number of times a week, or that they are expected to reach a certain chapter or level. The date the review is required is also included.
- You fill out a Vendor Interest form. This is where you have your say as to whether you would like to review the product in question. You are expected to visit the website of the vendor so you are able to give an informed opinion of whether it would be a good fit or not. You are given the opportunity to express your level of interest and how you would use the product.
- A week or so later, a list containing all the chosen reviewers is posted on the forum, along with the date of access to the product.
- On the date of access, the product is either posted or, if it is an online product, an email will be sent to you with instructions about how to access it. You are expected to access it within three days. The product is given to you for free in exchange for your honest review.
- You are given around four to six weeks to familiarise yourself and your student with the product. During this time you must meet the recommendations set forth regarding the expectations of reviewers. I tend to make notes as I use the product, which I believe makes it easier for me to write the review further down the line.
- You write the review. I write up my notes into a draft post each night so that when the review is expected, I only need edit a bit. This cuts down the work. I download and print off the requirements for each review, ticking each section off as I go along. This ensures I do not forget anything. The review should be written in your own style giving your honest opinion. You are not required to give a positive review.
- Once the review is written, it needs to posted within the set time frame (usually set over three consecutive days: Mon-Wed; Tues-Thurs; Wed-Fri). As soon as it is posted, it needs to be linked up to the Homeschool Review website, where all the reviews for a particular product are collated.
- Once linked it needs to be shared twice on social media. It can be shared on one platform (ie Facebook) twice, or it can be shared on two platforms. Each of my posts are shared automatically on Facebook and Twitter.
- In the unlikely event you have made a mistake or left something out, a member of the leadership team will contact you. So long as the review checklist is followed you are unlikely to make a mistake.
And that’s all there is to it! If you have any questions regarding becoming a member of the review crew please email me or leave a comment. I will be very happy to answer them to the best of my ability. If this is something you would like to try out do click over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog and fill in the application form. You won’t regret it!