Like the MamaLand Empire!

Have you joined the MamaLand Empire?
      ... and join my mailing list for biweekly Jewish parenting ideas - no spam, no ads, just me!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

RonyPony Reviews: Homeschool Buyers Co-op

image Looking for a new and fun way to spend those hard-saved and tightly-allocated homeschooling bucks???  I thought so!

I don’t even remember when I joined the Homeschool Buyers Coop, a name which bugs me for a couple of reasons.

[Please disregard the bombastic criticism which follows, as I have been duly and delightfully slapped down – see the Comments section - by no lesser experts than the folks at grammarlogues, a name which only slightly disturbs me because, as a proper noun, it ought to start with a capital letter.  Yet as a childishly graphic image and whimsical logo, it kind of works.  And they are to be wholeheartedly praised for saying their software requires “fewer than eight minutes a day” instead of “LESS THAN” or any other inferior wording.]

Is it a “co-op”?  Then it needs a hyphen (“Homeschool Buyers Co-op”) [doh – they USE a hyphen throughout their site; like I said, never mind me].  But if it’s a co-op, who participates?  Homeschool buyers?  Then it needs an apostrophe, because it belongs to them (“Homeschool Buyers’ Co-op”).  Unless there’s only one buyer:  “Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op.”

So I’m almost certain the name has something wrong with it.  (I’m sure my sister Abigail, who received a more expensive education than I did, could figure out exactly what if she wasn’t leaving the country in the next few weeks.)

[skip that bit and continue here]

On the other hand, there’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with “71,460 homeschool families helping each other,” as the site’s tagline reads!  (the number may be even higher by the time you click over to have a peek)  So I’ll just refer to it as HSBC to avoid any potential consternation in myself and my readers.

I first signed up – as with so many other things - because it was free, and there were a couple of eBook perks for joining.  But while I was there, I couldn’t help notice that the discount prices on mainstream, high-quality programs that I could (and some, I actually did) use with my kids.

The idea is to win homeschool parents at least some of the “buy-in-bulk” savings that schools and teachers take for granted. 

Deals are often introduced at a low introductory discount rate, say 25% off, and the discounts ratchet up to higher percentages at various purchase levels.  Like it’ll go to 40% off once 50 people buy in.  Or 50% once 100 people buy in.

If you want to hold out, you can commit to buy when the discount reaches a certain percentage (like 50%); I believe those who purchase sooner are refunded once it hits the higher discount level.  Discounts range from 10-70%.

image A few things I’ve bought (or gotten free) through HSBC so far include:

  • Meet the Masters, our art program
  • TeacherFileBox.com, a membership that allows access to many, MANY of the great resources published by Evan-Moor, including Literature Pockets and History Pimage ockets (that deal ended already – sorry!).
  • Microsoft DreamSpark, a program that lets kids access full versions of Microsoft developer sofware, like VisualStudio and SQL Server absolutely FREE.

image I’m toying with the idea of a 1-year subscription to Reading Eggs, a program I’ve heard great things about from other parents. 

Of course, the decision is easier because it would be FREE, thanks to “SmartPoints,” which you collect for activity on the site and elsewhere.  So you can save up and actually purchase some of the deals (not all) at an even better (free!) price.

Other great features of the site:

  • Free printable Homeschool ID cards (a little cheesy, but why not?)
  • Earn SmartPoints just by buying from one of many vendors (including WalMart)
  • Database of free curriculum (mostly downloads / printables and online resources)
  • Free educational contests & scholarships database – they hosted a summer reading program this year with real prizes for kids
  • Educational field trips database that includes Ontario – yay!
  • Local discounts database for parent-educators  (hmm; haven’t seen this one yet)
  • Dell discount program  (2-12% - cool!  We need a new laptop)
  • Free Classifieds Page for members to buy/sell used curriculum and resources
  • Membership is free and confidential

This is one of my top favourite homeschool sites and I really recommend checking it out (if it had a forum, it would be absolutely perfect) – and not just because I’m receiving 300 SmartPoints towards my Reading Eggs purchase for this review!

As with anything where you can “spend money to save money,” I can definitely see how this site could wind up being a money pit – sucking up big bucks on curriculum you don’t need – especially fancy online versions of things.

Some of the deals may seem a little weird:  for the TeacherFileBox subscription, I think I had to pay HSBC $1 on my credit card for the right to access the page where I paid Evan-Moor the rest of the special discounted price.  But although it may seem sketchy, it really does work, and there are thousands of homeschool parents out there who will tell you the same.

SPEAKING of saving money on online subscriptions and fancy homeschool frills and whistles, Discovery Education streaming videos, which aren’t normally available here in Canada, along with BrainPop and a few other online resources, are available from this site  (based in the US) for $59 – a 1-year subscription - that works in Canada.  Here’s the thread with a bit more information.

(if you’re in the US, there are various Discovery Education Streaming Video and BrianPop deals available through HSBC)

image Finally, as my thanks for reading this entire review, if you absolutely don’t feel like spending any money, here’s a weirdly addictive science game that will help you or your kids memorize the bones of the body:  Whack-a-Bone, from Anatomy Arcade!!!!

If you do visit the site, make sure you use one of the links in this review (like this link!).  I get cool kickbacks (more SmartPoints) if readers join, and even more if you click through, then buy something.  However, they absolutely didn’t sway the content of my review, which is why I so happily and freely critiqued the (poorly punctuated) name of the site.

Cut n’ Pasted Standard Review Text:

The Homeschool Buyer Co-op is a free homeschooling organization for both new and veteran homeschoolers. Co-op membership is free and confidential, and entitles homeschooling families to discounts from hundreds of educational suppliers. The Co-op also sponsors "Group Buys" for curriculum packages that can save homerschooling families lots of money. On the site you'll find lots of free information, such as databases of free curriculum, field trips, and educational contests and scholarships. Click here for more information.

How do YOU save money on homeschool curriculum?

3 comments:

Nitpicker said...

Hi,

Thanks for your wonderful post. Your comment about the apostrohpe got me wondering, so I sent an email to my friends at Grammarlogues:

"Subject: Need an expert opinion
Body: One of this members posted a blog faulting us for not having an apostrophe in "Homeschool Buyers Co-op". I did in fact consider that when I got started, but I didn't on the grounds that, in this case, the homeschool buyers in question don't own the Co-op, so the possessive was not called for. This is a co-op for homeschoolers, not owned by them. I'd be grateful if you could settles this for me once and for all!"

RESPONSE FROM GRAMMARLOGUES:

"The apostrophe: "Buyers" in this case is just what you say it is, and needs no apostrophe. If the buyers do not actually own the cooperative, it does not belong to them, i.e., they don't possess it. The word "buyers" is an attributive noun, a noun that functions as an adjective (like "train" in "train station"). This is definitely a distinction with a difference.

Co-op vs. coop: Your blogger has a problem with the word "Coop," which we notice you do not actually use. However, should you choose to use it, you may, because it is an alternative spelling in Webster's dictionary."

Thanks again for raising the issue. That had been bugging me for a long time, so I'm delighted to get an official ruling.

Brett Walter
President
Homeschool Buyers Co-op

Jennifer in MamaLand said...

I am absolutely tickled to receive this thoughtful, detailed reply. I stand 100% corrected - yay!

Anonymous said...

Ha! I thoroughly enjoyed this post, and the grammar update follow-ups, too!

Thanks for sharing!