Monday, May 31, 2010

Lobster Network

Summer is a great time for homeschool families to get organized. Our family is usually so busy with school and activities during the typical school year that our house tends to suffer from "clutter-itis", "i'll deal with it later syndrome" and "throw it over there disorder". Stacks of things to be dealt with grow taller and taller on my desk and I begin to dream of long, summer days with nothing to do but, get organized.

This summer as I sit at the beach relaxing I know I have a new tool to help me re-capture order once I return. It's LOBSTER NETWORK found at Making use of the facets of this FREE website can refresh a stressed out disorganized homeschool parent just like a day at the beach.

Lobster Network, created by Canadian homeschool parents, Isabelle and Robert Lussier, is a "one of a kind item networking" system that allows you to keep track of important items, share them with friends or borrow new things from others. If you can imagine maintaining a library of valuables while networking with other like-minded families you can imagine the possibilities of Lobster Network. LOBSTER is actually an acronym for Lend it/ Organize it/ Buy/ Borrow it, Sell it, Trade it, Exchange it, Request it. LOBSTER NETWORK is like a support group, garage sale and Facebook wrapped up in one handy website.

Creating an account on LOBSTER network is simple and FREE. Once registered you can join "communities" or create a new community for your friends to join. The most useful aspect, I think, is the ability to inventory all of your books, cds, educational games, etc. I have homeschooled for nearly 15 years and have an unbelieveable supply of educational resources. During the summer months I generally create lesson plans and begin to develop the ensuing school year. Many times I neglect items in my vast collection of resources and regret it later simply because I have lost track of it. Utilizing LOBSTER Network in the planning process will ensure I never do that again.

If time is limited and the thought of rifling through all of your "valuables" turns your heart to ice, never fear. Simply enter a few items every day and soon a wonderful list will develop ensuring you are well underway to optimum organization. I was amazed when I used LOBSTER network for the purpose of this review how quickly and efficiently the inventory process was. I also was able to quickly glance through the needs of members of my TOS Review Crew community to determine if I could fill a need.

Since I am a member of The Homeschool Review Crew for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine a special community group was created for us to use. My youngest child will enter 1st grade next year and I am finally willing to begin to part with some of my educational supplies. I listed these specific items to be searchable in the "Marketplace" for friends in my community. This allowed my friends to search my inventory and the inventory of other connected homeschool families when shopping for new homeschool supplies. Lobster Network allows users to search for products by name, category, purpose or distance.

LOBSTER network members can advertise items to other users. This advertising can include, for sale, for FREE, for lending,for trade or "I want this"in the listing. Lending and borrowing items with other homeschool families is a great way to frugally homeschool, but sometimes tracking those transactions can turn into a major waste of time. It is at best difficult to manage. LOBSTER network allows users to easily keep track of items lent, due dates, send messages to borrowers for due date reminders and request an extension on a loaned item. All communication can be managed right on the site.
When I return from my beach vacation and begin to tackle those stacks on my desk one of my first priorities will be to add to my Lobster Network. It's free. It's fast and efficient and it will help me refresh and re-organize my homeschool journey.

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