Monday, April 26, 2010


From the moment I saw the two pink lines, I began to doubt. I wish it were not so, but it's true: nearly 19 weeks into this pregnancy, and I'm still not convinced that I will hold a baby in my arms come September.

I was very candid earlier with my real, honest reason for submitting to the hCG blood tests after I first learned that I was pregnant; I was terrified of enduring yet another miscarriage knowing that this time, I'd most likely be alone. Mr. Blandings was en route to Nepal. Benny was awaiting the birth of her newest little one. And really, there are very few other people who I'd want to invite into the sanctity of my home when I'm mourning and feeling rotten and calling into question God's plan.

I pictured myself curled into a ball on the couch, crying, verbally coaching Atticus through the process of loading dvd after dvd into the player for the rambunctious littles who had no clue why Mommy was serving cold jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I imagined needing pain meds, but being unable to take them for fear of parenting even more poorly than I already was. I saw myself scraping bare minimum, and having nothing at all left to give.

It was not a pretty picture. In fact, it scared me more than I could even admit at the time.

So I violated what has become my hard and fast rule: no blood tests, no medical confirmation. I called my ob, scheduled a draw, and went in. Then I waited. The first set of results was not promising. Mr. Blandings offered to reschedule the trip to Nepal. "Wait for the second set of numbers," I said, knowing in my heart of hearts that I'd start bleeding before then. And yet ...

The numbers came back promising.

A follow-up ultrasound introduced us to a wriggling baby with a heartbeat.

A subsequent ultrasound showed us a kicking, waving Seven bopping along to the whoosh-whoosh of the watery home God created.

I started to feel wiggles.

And yet ...

And yet, in moments I find that I have precious little faith.

Do I doubt that God's will for me is good? No. Do I doubt that He can open and close the womb at His command? No. Do I doubt that He showers blessings on His people? No again.

But somehow, somewhere, deep inside ... I cannot trust. I simply cannot fully embrace that this one ... this little person ... this baby ... this one will be mine here on earth.

And yes, I'm questioning. Why this one, Lord? Why now? What is different today, of all days?

Please don't think I'm being ungrateful. I'm not. I am over-the-moon thrilled with each wriggle and tap, with every shirt I outgrow, and every chance I have to say "this newest one." I endure my weekly shots with pure joy, knowing that every week, every day, is a gift. I look forward to an aching back. I can't wait to waddle.

But what my heart feels just stops slightly south of my head. Logic pushes its way into the picture and reminds me that nothing in life is guaranteed. God does not promise us days without pain. We are not above loving and losing. Pregnancy does not equal a new family member. At least, not in the economy my household has endured.

Yesterday afternoon I left church feeling somewhat ill. I was sweating, my heart racing, my body fatigued. I was certain that something was wrong, that this was some horrible crash leading to somehow losing Seven. Reading my fears, Mr. Blandings suggested I take a break. Once we got home, I fell into my bed, popped in my earplugs, and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. I was undisturbed for nearly two whole hours. Finally, I found myself drifting back to consciousness and began taking stock of my physical self. No longer overheated. Heart and mind at rest. Body rejuvenated and ready to rise.

With slightly tremulous hands, I prodded my growing belly, waiting for the dread silence that would spiral me back into more hours of doubt and wonder. As if on cue, Seven lurched. The sudden movement took me totally by surprise. Until now, our little Seven has been a quiet little tap dancer, gently prodding and fluttering here and there, and only with maddening rarity. I took a deep breath and waited. Seven responded again. A giant lunge this time from one side of the swimming pool to the other, with a rapid kick thrown in for good measure.

I realized then that I was crying, even through my laughter.

Seven is o.k. Seven is fine. Just stop it. Stop it and have faith.

I stayed in my bed a few moments longer, pondering the very fragility of it all. True, true--not one of us is promised another day. Not one of us marries with the absolute knowledge that our spouse will remain by our side until we are old enough to dangle our grandchildren on our knees. Not one of us can say with certainty that our children will outlive us, our brothers and sisters will be companions well into our old age, or that we will not be on the other end of a sobering diagnosis that counts our remaining time in weeks rather than years.

Not one of us can dream of holding our newest blessing and know, know with all that we are, that this child will be born complete and healthy and whole, and will prosper like a flower in God's garden.

We try to live as if we can have faith in these things, but we cannot.

Instead, what we have is a heritage far more rich, one that demands that we walk without sight and hold fast to every day as if it were more precious than gold. Right now, what I have is a house brimming with love, a husband who blesses me, five children who bring me daily joy, a daughter in Kathmandu who I long to hold, and Seven. Wiggling, kicking, unseen but still known Seven.

I can live in fear that any of those things will be called away from me. I can be paralyzed by the hurts of the past. I can be robbed by the whispers of satan. Or I can live in faith that God has given me this day, this moment, and this joy. No matter what the future holds, I have this. Today, it is enough.

TOS Review: Lesson Planet

I don't have any subscriptions to lesson websites. I just don't. Why? Because google provides me access to an almost endless array of worksheets, lesson plans, you name it. There's free content everywhere. Do you have to muddle through it? Yes. Does it take a selective eye? Of course. But, well ... I kind of enjoy the hunt. And, truth be known, I'm pretty sure that fitting someone else's ready-made plan around my homeschool wouldn't be much fun. All the more exciting to customize, tweak, and find the best of the best, right?

But not everyone is as confident as I am in this area--and goodness knows, I surely didn't think I'd be this way back when I started. The thought of a safe, professional lesson laid out for me was reassuring. It gave me a sense of comfort. And, eventually, it gave me wings to fly.

Too, there are homeschoolers who just prefer to glean from others. They like the convenience of a solid plan, of something pre-tested, and of following along on a written guide sheet.

For all of those folks, Lesson Planet is a good resource. For $39.95 per year, you get access to a searchable database of lessons, as well as web-based tools like a lesson maker and newsletter maker. Lessons are searchable by grade, topic, user ratings, and more. The site boasts more than 150,000 worksheets and lesson plans. Every topic I threw out ("bears," "fractions," "King Arthur," etc.) came back with at least 75 results. Since this is an advertising-free site, there was no wading through flashy ads trying to convince me to buy this or that. Lessons were easily accessible, thorough, and polished. By "polished," I mean any public school teacher could pull from this site and know exactly what standards were being met, what objectives were being pursued, what areas of content were being developed. In other words, it's a site mostly directed at public schoolers.

A general search for "Christianity" turned up 1,622 results, mostly written from a secular, Western Civilization point of view. This leads me to believe that the content, in general, is largely secular. I did find, however, a lesson for 11th graders and higher titled, "Why is evolution controversial?" that addressed some Christian concerns, so perhaps there's room for faith in the plans presented here.

Lesson Planet offers a free, 10 day trial. If you're a new homeschooler or someone who is looking to add another searchable database to your bookmarks, this may be for you. If you're an established homeschooler not afraid of surfing the web on your own, I'd recommend keeping your money.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for review purposes. Refer to my general disclaimer for more information on my policies regarding reviews.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

TOS Review: Super Star Speech

Virtually of my children has had some form of therapy. Seriously. Is it just me? Am I hyper-aware of things that aren't really issues, and therefore inclined to pursue outside intervention when it's not really warranted? Or do I somehow have a family full of misfits that require help in a dozen little areas of their lives?

Jo had Vision Therapy.

Atticus had Occupational Therapy.

Logan had Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and oh, yes ... he still has bi-annual consultations with a Physical Therapist.

Oliver has Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy.

Which means that so far, only Bee (who could need some form of therapy, for all we know at this point), Manolin (our miracle, meth-exposed, physically abused little man who miraculously is perfect), and Seven (who is still baking and could need goodness only knows what) have dodged the therapeutic bullet.

4:3. What a ratio, huh?

I guess I could spend a whole lot of time pondering the whys and hows of our family's adventures in all things therapy. But what it has boiled down to, for me at least, is this: I haven't regretted a single intervention or evaluation. YES--they take time. YES--they cost money. But YES--they have given me valuable knowledge on how to assist my children in gaining the coping skills they need to get by in life.

Well, all except that one therapist.

The one who absolutely refused to make "home therapy" a top priority. The one who couldn't see the value in me being a part of the team. The one who basically ignored the fact that while she saw my son for one hour a week, I was with him the other 167 hours that made up his Sunday through Saturday.

That therapist? I couldn't wait to get rid of. But the rest of them knew something that she didn't--

What you do at home is far more valuable than what goes on in a therapy setting.

No, it's true. Let me repeat it, because you're probably not believing it yet:

What you do at home is far more valuable than what goes on in a therapy setting.

In other words, the therapist that you employ--be it for VT, ST, OT, PT, whatever--is simply a trainer. And in reality, the person he or she should be most interested in training is you, the parent. Why? Because you have far more time to invest in making sure that goals are met, that exercises are completed, and that skills are being utilized.

Now please don't think I'm saying that professional therapists are useless. They are not. They are a vital part of the team; the one with the most experience in the field who can put the information and the skill set into your hands, while having a warm, loving relationship with your child. We've had a couple of those therapists--the ones who become part of your family--and wow! When therapy goes well, it is a total blessing! But there's another, vital component to that team I mentioned. It's you. You are the one who bears the burden of really making sure that the therapy gets off the ground. That it's more than a 60 minute play time. That it works.

When I was researching Sensory Processing Disorder back when Atticus was a preschooler, I found loads of information that helped me to truly team with his therapist and make the plan for my boy go as smoothly as possible. With Jo's vision issues, the bulk of her therapy was home based, allowing me to take the reins. Logan's PT is so amazing that she gives me exercises for and textbooks on his condition (an issue with the tendons in his legs) and keeps in touch via monthly email and visits twice a year. But you know what issue had been the hardest to support at home? Speech.

We first went the speech therapy route with Logan. A late talker, it was evident early on that he had epic difficulties enunciating. Certain sounds never developed at all, while others were nearly missing. Since he was still so young, I delved into internet research, hoping to unearth some preventive measures that could help those skills emerge. Know what I found? Advice on how to schedule an evaluation with a therapist.

So I did. And after he was screened, he was enrolled in speech. And from there, he went every week, coming home with a packet of two or three little activities that were meant to work mouth muscles and help him fetter out sounds. I did the activities with him diligently. Blow through a straw? Sure. Hold a corn chip between his front teeth and try to break it? Check. But that was it. No one could offer me much more than a pat and the assurances that he was working with a great therapist who would no doubt solve the problem posthaste.

Which, of course, she didn't. Because one hour a week won't solve anything, folks.

Fast forward to Oli's speech experiences. Nearly identical. The amount of home support suggested was so small that I began to wonder if I was completely alone. Had my previous experiences of having home therapy schedules and working through activities and exercises just made my expectations skewed? Or was I missing some vital piece to the puzzle?

Turns out, there was a puzzle piece that I was missing. I just didn't know it yet. Cue Super Star Speech.

Super Star Speech was written by Deborah Lott, a homeschooling mom who happens to have a Master's in Speech pathology. Designed to be used with children ages 3 and up, it is literaly perfect for homeschooling moms as it was written directly to us! Mrs. Lott knows her audience, writes simply but with detail, and puts some amazing tools into the hands of worried parents.

Presented in a series of three books, Super Star Speech focuses on articulation--the way sounds are made. Tests for home evaluation (which I can tell you are virtually identical to the ones that both Logan and Oli had done by licensed therapists in a large, respected therapy center near Seattle), lesson plans, picture cards, games, and drills are all a part of this complete and well-thought-out program.

Mrs. Lott doesn't claim that her products will help every one. A disclaimer from her site offers this tidbit:

NOTE: If your child has many articulation errors, or another type of speech problem such as a language delay or stuttering, or if you are not able to commit to working with your child and his speech regularly at home, please seek the assistance of a speech-language pathologist. Likewise, if your child has a physical problem that affects his speech, such as a hearing impairment, cerebral palsy, or cleft palate, this book does not attempt to address those more complex issues.

I used a portion of one of the programs with Oli and can attest that while it would never come close to meeting his unique special needs, it certainly didn't hurt. The picture cards were fun and engaging, and he enjoyed the one-on-one time of making silly faces with mommy and repeating sounds. It was engrossing enough, apparently, that Atticus came over and tried to help out. The next day, he asked if he could "play that sound game" with Oli. I figured that was as good a use of his time as anything!

The biggest test of the program was using the targeted books to see if I could improve on any of Logan's "sloppy speech" patterns. While Logan is perfectly understandable at this point, he often reverts to a less enunciated speech pattern when he is tired or excited. I was able to use the cards and several games from Super Star Speech to zero in on two sounds in particular (R and S) that often give him trouble. Logan enjoyed the games, especially, and said that working with me in this way was actually a lot more fun that the actual therapy he'd had. Also, because I knew what we'd been working on, throughout the day I could "quiz" him on certain elements, and see if he was retaining what we'd worked on.

I was highly impressed with the quality of Super Star Speech. Having more than a passing familiarity with the professional tools being used in private therapy as well as public schools at this time, I can honestly say that what you're getting here is comparable. Each book retails at $18.95 for a spiral bound version, or can be purchased in ebook form for a 30% discount. Game packs are also available for an additional cost. The entire set, spiral bound, can be purchased for $38.95.

I can't tell you what a deal that is. Even if your child is already in professional therapy, spending less than $40 for the tools to make sure that you can successfully support that therapy at home is a drop in the bucket. Conversely, if you suspect that an articulation issue is brewing (ie, those "cute" speech patterns of preschool are still showing up in your 4, 6 or 8 year-old) then this may be a very inexpensive route to introducing some phonemic awareness, playing some neat games with a purpose, and stopping a real issue before it starts.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for review purposes. Refer to my general disclaimer for more information on my policies regarding reviews.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

TOS Review: Time4Learning preschool

I had a really hard time reviewing this, and it wasn't the product's fault. No, no ... this is yet another high-quality, easy-to-use, engaging product from Time4Learning. The graphics are fun and age-appropriate, the themes perfectly target the age group and yes, virtually any preschooler would love to have this as part of their "school."

But you know, Oli is nowhere near able to handle 40 lessons of anything, even when they're spaced over two levels and mixed in with some of the most silly educational games around. He can't handle learning about numbers or letters, or One the Farm, and he certainly isn't ready for "Insect" ... especially not when they're all "pider" in his little mind.

So reviewing this product made me sad. Because really, for $19.95 a month, I'd happily subscribe and let Oli and maybe even Mani while away a half hour or so in front of the computer while I teach the older kids. This would be a sound investment, something that would alleviate some of that mommy guilt while filling a gap.

I had fun perusing the games. I was interested in the color mixing capabilities, playing with the little people, and even finding out how they taught manners to preschoolers. (Genius, that.) But it was beyond what Oli could manage, and so, with a sigh, I reminded myself that soon enough, he'd be there. On his own time, of course.

BUT ... if your preschooler is typically developing, excited for screen-time and ready to pick up some basics, please check this one out. You won't be disappointed.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for review purposes. Refer to my general disclaimer for more information on my policies regarding reviews.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The details (for those who would like to know such things)

Many, many people have asked many, many questions. Seems my little video didn't satisfy the need to know, huh? For those who are curious, here are a handful of thoughts and updates on the current status of things at Casa Blandings:

*I am 17 weeks pregnant today. This is monumental. I haven't sustained a pregnancy this long since Logan, and that had a delightful end result, so I am feeling insanely blessed.

*No, we weren't "trying." As you may recall from earlier blog posts on the topic, hope had escaped us in this particular area, and I had finally found the healing I was praying for in terms of no longer coveting the blessings of others. Apparently, God took that as a sign.

*Yes, we were shocked. In truth, the only reason I took a pregnancy test was because Mr. Blandings and Jo were preparing to leave for Nepal and I was afraid of suffering a miscarriage alone. (Just being honest.) When the test was positive, I was even more concerned and actually consented to the hcG blood test at a lab. My first numbers were not, according to the tech, "promising." You can't imagine my shock and surprise when I got the call with the 48 hour results and was told that my numbers had doubled--just like they should. Still in shock, I consented to an ultrasound just before Mr. Blandings and Jo left for Nepal. At that time, we saw a healthy, rapid heartbeat and a wriggling little Seven. Talk about amazing!

*We are still planning on moving to Nepal. Our current timeline looks more like spring/summer of 2011. That will allow for Seven to be a bit sturdier before we hit the road for our big cross-country blitz just prior to leaving the States.

*Yes, I have a history of high-risk pregnancies. Jo was my only full-term baby. Both Atticus and Logan were more than a month early. Because of this, and the fact that I tend to have pre-term complications starting very early in pregnancy, I will begin medical intervention in the form of p17 shots this week. This is very good news, because I've already started having contractions and having to cut back on my normal activities. These shots weren't an option 8 years ago when I was pregnant with Logan, so I'm hopeful that they will be gentler than the trib I used with him, and still have a healthy baby at the end of the pregnancy!

*My biggest concern right now is ... school next year. I have been completely thrown for a loop on how to plan for next year. I'm still processing the whole thing, and will keep you abreast of developments and curricula choices as I make them. Anyone with experience in teaching 8th, 5th, and 3rd grades with a developmentally delayed 3 year-old and a curious 2 year-old while nursing a baby is more than welcome to chime in. Please.

*Yes, we are re-applying for Bee's visa. The application goes in next week, with her potentially arriving towards the end of May. She will only be able to stay for a few months, but we are willing to take that in exchange for time as a whole family.

*The older kids are very excited. Jo is excited about the whole deal. Atticus thinks another child will be fun. And Logan just likes babies. Their votes are boy, girl, boy. Someone is right. We'll see. Which brings us to ...

*No, we don't peek. You'll find out what I'm having shortly after I find out what equipment the Lord sent along with this one.

*Yes, I'll actually post a picture once the baby is born. And maybe I'll even commission Benny to post an update once Seven arrives, if she's willing.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

TOS Review: Wiglington & Wenks

I admit: before reviewing this site, I had never heard of the books upon which this virtual world is based. All I saw was the title ("The Travels of Wiglington & Wenks"), a couple of animated mice, and the phrase "virtual traveler." Ugh, I thought. This one will be dull.

You'd think I'd know not to judge a book by its cover.

The Travels of Wiglington & Wenks is intended for use by 7-14 year-olds. I admit, this gives me pause. Like many popular "virtual worlds," this one is completely self-contained (ie, you as a parent have little to no control), allows for interaction with third parties, and has associated retail merchandise that your children will begin asking for come holiday time. An "uncensored chat" option lets your kids "talk" with whomever happens to be online at the time. That gives me the heebie-jeebies, and is one reason why we've never engaged in any of the other virtual worlds. No, not even the ones with the cute stuffed animals or the pretend penguins.

What it is, instead, is a creative, inventive board game gone virtual. After choosing a player, your children will be able to journey--literally--around the entire globe, interacting with characters of historical significance (we highly recommend St. Patrick.) Be aware that if your children choose to veer off of this educational course, it's completely possible. The vast majority of the game is just that--a game. You can pop this on and call it school time, but you're really deluding yourself if you do.

Atticus, especially, enjoyed tooling around this site; he is a gamer by nature, and this one, with its flashy graphics and fun, fun, fun! theme sucked him right in. Jo saw through it a bit more and said that she wished there was more depth. No one was drawn in enough to ask about finding the books upon which the site is based, which tells me that this could be a stand-alone game for interested parents.

Access to this site is free, but an upgraded version is also offered for $5.95 per month. We used the Elite Traveler Pass (the upgraded version) but frankly, the free version was fine, too. Since the largest point of merit to me in this product truly was the game aspect, I'd stick with the free offerings. That, and I'd only let my kids play while I was sitting with them. But hey, that's just me. :-)

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for review purposes. Refer to my general disclaimer for more information on my policies regarding reviews.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Our move to Nepal has been unexpectedly delayed by a surprising development in the Blandings family. See the following video (or this direct link) for more details.

Please note: If you are my Facebook friend, please refrain from posting comments there. Your thoughts here on the blog, however, are quite welcome. :-)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Farewell ... for now

Grandpa Logan passed away early Easter morning. While our hearts weep for the loss we have here on earth, we are overjoyed to know our beloved Grandpa Logan celebrated not only his homecoming, but also the most magnificent Resurrection Sunday we could ever imagine ... in the presence of the risen Jesus he has loved and served his whole life.

Thank you, Grandpa, for a legacy of faith, love, and service. We look forward to seeing you again, and want you to know that we will do our best to keep ushering the generations of your family tree toward Christ. We love you!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

TOS Review: Galaxy of Education

Are you tired of reading math reviews from me? You probably are. Goodness knows, my kids are about ready for me to be done reviewing them. :-)

But really, what homeschooler can't use more math resources?

Our current topic du jour is fractions. Fractions, I admit, were my nemesis when I was in school. I could add them. Sometimes, I could subtract them. But multiplying them or--heaven forbid--dividing them, was completely lost on me. My teachers chalked it up to me being more linguistically gifted than mathematically inclined, and I was in no rush to prove otherwise. Honestly, I didn't really learn much about the hows and whys of fractions until I started teaching them to my own children. And when it came time to do that, you'd better believe I was on the look-out for some quality resources.

Thankfully, today I can present you with one that is worth your time and, yes, your money. It's called And no, it's not the flashiest website. It doesn't have the coolest games with the best graphics. But what it does have is a series of solid, instructional products that hold your hand if you're a teacher who needs just a little more help in the teaching department.

For the purposes of this review, I was able to download a free product. Since we're talking fractions, fractions, fractions, I wisely chose to go with ... fractions. I wasn't disappointed. The java plugin programs ($29.95) I used were the Math Galaxy Fractions Fun and the Fractions Worksheet Generator.

The Fractions Fun wasn't such a massive hit here. Perhaps my children have been spoiled by fancier graphics of faster-paced games. All three of them complained that this was nowhere near as engaging as they had hoped. Also, the incentives (things like gathering robots) fell flat here. Still, it was good drill work, and provided practice in a different format.

The Worksheet Generator, on the other hand, was used again and again. The biggest draw? A riddle maker! 500 different worksheets are included. Our faves were the ones that asked a question that could only be solved by solving math problems and plugging in the right words. Even Jo, who grows weary of cutesy approaches to math, said this was an entertaining way to practice a new skill.

Math Galaxy offers many, many more options for math study, ranging from basic operations to upper level concepts. It's well worth checking out their site and seeing what they have, because as I said, every homeschool can benefit from a few more math resources!

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for review purposes. Refer to my general disclaimer for more information on my policies regarding reviews.

Friday, April 2, 2010

TOS Review: Critical Thinking Co. Language Smarts C

If, for some reason, I'm looking for a workbook-based something, I usually make Critical Thinking Co.s website my first stop. The simple fact is that among the offerings you can peruse for math, reading, and yes, critical thinking, their books are stellar. They are colorful, innovative, and require the kind of deeper thinking skills that make me feel somewhat less guilty for using a workbook when I wish I could come up with another way to teach that involves interaction.

Over the years, we've sampled a huge array of their products. I fell in love with Mathematical Reasoning as a fabulous supplement for Logan, and we've all enjoyed the Mind Benders and Red Herrings series. Editor in Chief and Word Roots are also in rotation around here. All of these books offer up the kind of extra practice and fun thinking skills that are the hallmark of Critical Thinking Co's products. I'd recommend any of them to just about any homeschooler.

So I was totally expecting to adore my free copy of Language Smarts Level C ($39.99). Imagine my surprise when it wasn't at all what I had hoped it would be.

All of the elements you'd expect from this company were present: catchy illustrations. A limited number of problems. Friendly pages. Kid-oriented explanations. A handful of varied thinking games thrown in to spice things up.

But, well ...

For a second grade text, I found this book to be markedly below what I'd anticipated. The topics covered were meager representations of more meaty programs: a handful of phonograms, some comprehension skills, contractions, homonyms, etc. In addition to not really providing much in the way of challenge, the topics were hardly glanced over in terms of instruction or practice. For example, one page on contractions focused on each type of word to be shortened ("is" to "'s," for example). After than initial speed through the concept, the child is then darted on to another set of words to deconstruct. Then another. And on and on, with very little regard for retention or review.

This seemed to be the case with nearly every concept studied; mastery was by no means the goal--sheer exposure was the order of the day.

While the book's cover touted that it could be used as a core curriculum component for second grade language arts skills, I personally would be very reluctant to use this series as my sole guide to teaching this subject. A child handed this book and assigned a few pages at a time would easily be able to fill in some blanks with correct answers while learning very, very little. On the other hand, as a supplement, I can see how this kind of brief exercise would be valuable--especially when a child pretty much has the concept down. This is actually how I ended up using the book with Logan. He continued to use his core LA program, and I pulled selections from Language Smarts to spice up his daily application time.

As a supplement, this book is a pricey addition to any curriculum. Perhaps a parent using this book as a spine and not purchasing anything else--but providing lots and lots of hands-on instruction time coupled with many opportunities for writing and using the learned skills--could manage a balanced program for an 8 year-old. But knowing how workbooks are normally used ("Here, Johnny, go do your language arts.") I really can't recommend this particular book to homeschoolers. Stick with the other superb products offered by this company.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for review purposes. Refer to my general disclaimer for more information on my policies regarding reviews.