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Thursday, April 30, 2009

review of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's WeE-book/E-book product line

I so enjoy reading but am always pressed for time and am sorely lacking in book shelf space already. The Old Schoolhouse magazine's WeE-books and E-books to the rescue! They are inexpensive, quick reads but in digital E-book form. You can download and store them on your computer for reading while waiting for appointments or on long car rides. Or even print them if you wish.

E-books also have the advantage of linking directly to the internet. Your E-book or WeE-book will open on screen, usually with colored links, that will lead the reader directly to websites containing even more information. It's like getting twice the information for half the price.

As part of the trial process to becoming a member of The Old Schoolhouse magazine's second "TOS CREW", I was given 3 free WeE-books and 1 free E-book from the company's online store to use and review.

The first WeE book is called Transcripts, CLEPS, and Other Ways to Get into College by Claire Novak. Only 21 pages in length but packed with useful information on subjects such as Do you really need a college education?, Sitting out the SAT, and Advice from Current College Students. First off this book tackles the idea of not attending college in order to obtain a career, but lists the alternatives such as apprenticeship, internships, the military, and certification.
I found the section about gaining credits via taking the CLEP test very helpful. A quick overview of transcripts and what they involve is also brought up. This is followed by helpful advice from current college students (who once homeschooled) and links to resources on the Internet. Definitely a practical, easy read for those with children entering the middle school or high school years. As an adult, I found the idea of the CLEP test interesting enough to check into using that option myself someday.

WeE Book number 2 is called Career Exploration for High School Students by Carol Topp, CPA. 14 pages in length and also equally easy to read and follow, this little gem teaches students how to go through the 4-step career exploration process. Students will investigate their personalities, abilities, and priorities. Next they will match possible careers to their personalities. Then research potential careers to see if there is a fit. Lastly the student will prepare a plan to pursue the chosen career. While this book is written toward the teacher/parent, I don't see why a high school student couldn't read it himself and do additional research by looking at the website links in the end. Overall, another useful and practical download.

The third WeE book is also by Carol Topp, CPA, and is entitled The Pitfalls and Possibilities of Being a Work-at-Home Mom. This is my personal favorite because I manage two craft shops on Etsy.com. I often have a hard time balancing my homeschooling and keeping my shops running, so I was thrilled when this is one of the topics she goes into.

Along with how to balance your many priorities as a homeschool mom and a WAHM, she also gives clear guidance on how to find more time to devote to a business, how to decide what type of business to begin, how to set up a business plan, and how to set boundaries so you can actually accomplish something while being home! Ms. Topp discusses the difference between working at home and owning a home-based business. She lists some wonderful opportunities in the direct selling world such as Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, and Usborne Books at Home. This books finishes with a much-needed section on avoiding those ever-present work at home scams, and like the other WeE books before it, feature Internet links and general homeschooling information.

The full-sized download of the 95-page E-book called Homework: Juggling Home, Work, and School Without Losing Your Balance was another anticipated read. This is much like the WeE book I just reviewed but much more in-depth. And the perspective is interesting: you learn from reading examples of how other families work from home while homeschooing. 16 families share with your their tips and frustrations. I enjoyed peeking into what a typical day in each homeschooling/home-business was like. You'll come away from this E-book armed with much more than just stories and inspirations; you'll come away with ideas to cultivate your skills and real businesses opportunities that you might be able to start.

For example, the first contributor and I share a common bond-we both own Etsy stores. But I have never seen one quite like hers. She recycles old jeans into purses. Her unusual business, prompted by the urging to recycle, go green, and upscale cast-off products into usuable items (called "trashion") made me think about what items I might be able to offer to help our planet.

I also shared a bond with another mom, one who sells Usborne books. Although I no longer sell them, I love their quality and am glad to see her making her business work so well for her family.

You'll meet other equally hard-working, creative moms in this book...a mom who is a leisure travel consultant...an industrious family who manage a bed and breakfast from a family fruit orchard...for the animals lovers there is the story of a pet-sitter...using the computer and writing skills to make money are also covered.

I found that faith in God is woven throughout each story in this book, and the parents often speak of personal experiences which led them to choose homeschooling.

Overall, it is an encouraging, heart-warming look into the lives of real people, just like you and I, who are living their dreams and making it happen, all while having the best of their time with their children. Let this E book inspire you to push ahead and meet your dream face-to-face with your family by your side.

Cost for an E book varies but they tend to be less expensive than printed books. TOS WeE books are generally only $1.95 and with free shipping, too! So go ahead and splurge! With a wide variety of great topics, I know I will. :)


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