Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Homeschool Convention Recap

My brain feels like it’s going to explode!! No doubt about it.

We got home Sunday afternoon from the Midwest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati. We had three jam packed days of informative sessions, curriculum shopping and discussion. I felt blessed that my mom and sister were able to join us for the convention, it was an exhaustingly good time.

While I would love to go into each of the sessions I went to and give you all of my notes…. I just don’t have the time. So I will give you some of the main points that I took away from the convention.

I went to two of Sonya Shafer’s (Simply Charlotte Mason) sessions. One of Language Arts, the other on Fine Arts the Charlotte Mason way. If I took only one thing away from these sessions (though thankfully I got more), it would be the importance of short lessons. We are trying to develop the habit of attention, which can only be done by slowly increasing the child’s ability to pay attention without frustrating or exhausting them. Language Arts lessons should take no more than 10 minutes (on average) and fine arts (particularly art) won’t usually take more than 5 minutes.

For fine arts she recommended studying a particular artist (for example Leonardo Da Vinci) for a period of 6-12 weeks, looking at one piece of art per week. This only takes 1 day a week, about 5-10 minutes. You show the child(ren) the picture, turn it over and have them describe it to you. Talk about it, ask questions. There is no need to read or discuss what others think of the picture. This is purely about your child. There are no right or wrong answers. During your 6 weeks study on that artist, try to find a living book that you can read on the artists life…. if you can find one that is appropriate.

Teaching language arts should primarily be a part of your other subjects (like history, science, fine arts) in narration, dictation, copy work, etc. Charlotte Mason combined skills together rather than taught them individually.


Real Life + Real Books = Real Education by Shirley Solis

I loved this session mostly because it made me feel good about my rather large library of books, which my hubby sometimes makes fun of me for. Access to good books and a strong library is important. Some of us are lucky enough to have a good public library, others are not, all of us should work towards keeping good literature in our home.

We and our children learn best by life experiences and doing rather than just sitting and being “taught to”. She made a valid point that our children learn at a run and when they reach Kindergarten we (their educators) slow them down to a crawl. Think of all your children learn how to do completely on their own purely through life experiences – how to talk, walk, communicate, eat, run, jump, etc – then they get to academic years and we tell them to sit still, listen and learn…. it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.


Choosing the Right Curriculum for your Child – Personality & Learning Types by Cathy Duffy

It was cool to be able to hear Cathy Duffy speak and on something as near and dear to my heart as personality types! I was completely mesmerized. The biggest point I got from this session is that knowing my child’s personality/learning style is not as crucial in choosing a curriculum or teaching method except when our child is struggling with a subject or concept. Use your knowledge of your child’s style when helping them overcome a struggle – that’s when it’s most important.


Ballistic Boys: Teaching and Appreciating Boys – Mel & Hal Young (?)

A great workshop! I love being reminded that my son is not only normal but just the way that God made him. As a mother, I was never a little boy, I can’t always relate to where he is coming from but it’s my job to know the difference between poor behavior and his God-given image bearing “boyness”. It’s sad to realize how hard our society is working at emasculating our boys and softening our men when we so desperately need them just they way God made them. I want to do my part as a homeschooling mom to allow my son to be all the boy he’s meant to be.

The truth is BOYS DO NOT DEVELOP MORE SLOWLY THAN GIRLS. They develop differently. Girls tend to develop in ways that we like and that are more accepted by society. Boys are in no way damaged, or broken, they are who God made them to be. Let them be. If you want to be effective in communicating and teaching them use terms and approaches they understand - the example they gave is that it’s okay to raise your voice a little, to talk a little louder (not yell) with added emphasis with boys, that’s the way they communicate. If you try to communicate with boys and girls the same way it’s not going to be effective.

Tim particularly liked a comment the Young’s made regarding the difference between boys and girls coloring. “Girls color in nouns. Boys color in verbs.” This is SOO true!! Treyton’s pictures are rarely of something but rather a story. The finished project may not make as much sense as a girl’s his age, but if you were to watch him draw it or have him tell you what is going on in the picture it is just as creative and full of talent done.


Notebooking: Creativity with a Purpose (done by the writer of the Elementary Apologia Curriculum)

I was sold on notebooking before I went to this workshop, having used it this past year pretty regularly, but I enjoyed the encouragement and a few of the ideas I took away from her.


Why Teach Latin?

This workshop was almost over my head, I’ll be honest, she used what seemed to me “a lot of big words” however, it was GREAT stuff and she made some excellent points. I knew already that I was going to teach at least some latin and greek roots (like my mom taught me), but now I am seriously contemplating teaching latin – grammar and all.

Why? I’m so glad you asked!

Our English language is actually a hybrid language stemming from both the Anglo-Saxons and Latin – the latin half of our language is actually the more academic part. By learning where our language/grammar comes from we are better able to understand our own language including vocabulary, grammar and origin.

Latin is a very structured and organized language with very few (if any) exceptions, unlike our seemingly unstructured language. By understanding latin we are better able to understand our own grammar and language.

By learning Latin it is much easier to learn other languages (primarily the 5 romance languages) in the future (or in addition to Latin).

Latin increases our understanding in almost every other subjects – many of the words used in other academic areas stem from Latin roots and meaning. This includes math, chemistry, geology, biology, botany, to name a few.

I am totally convinced of the importance of Latin in our school, I’m just not yet convinced I want to teach (which means learn) a foreign language, even one as structured and organized as Latin. I’m still contemplating whether or not to teach Latin as a language or just Latin stems….


Empowering the Shy Child by Carol Barnier

I learned that Treyton is not as shy as I thought he was. There are many more children far more shy then he is. Being shy is not a characteristic to be “fixed”, it is something that the child may need to work with and come to terms with but it’s not a defect.

Rewarding the child’s courage is a great way to enable your child to use their gifts. Celebrate courage milestones – we celebrate academic and sports success and achievements – why not celebrate character success as well?

A shy child needs focused attention on a regular basis, and you need to be sure to make direct eye contact with them when you are trying to communicate (this includes when they are speaking to you).


The Joy of Classical Education by Susan Bauer

Susan Bauer is the author of “The Well Trained Mind”. This workshop was basically on what Classical Education is. She talked about how it will look differently for each family but that in order to be called Classical Education it’s:

  • Language Intensive
  • Trains the mind to learn (how)
  • Demands Self Discipline
  • Consists of 3 Stages: Grammar (1st – 4th Grade), Logic (5th – 8th Grade) and Rhetoric (High School). She talked about the strengths and weaknesses and how to best teach each stage.
    • This was particularly enlightening and I learned a lot about what to expect and not expect out of Treyton.
  • Uses Living Books (a living book is NOT a textbook)
  • History is at the core and is preferably taught in a chronological 4-year cycle, repeated 3 times in the 12 years of school. 


I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the convention and learned so much. I purchased most of all the curriculum we will begin using next year (or as soon as we finish the curriculum we’re currently using) we stuck with My Father’s world and Singapore math and have added in a few more basic subjects. I can’t wait to share in detail what we will be using.

1 comment:

Mandy said...

I know what you mean about your brain about to explode. I am still trying to digest all that I took in at the convention, as well. I attended two of Sonya Shafers seminars, too, but they were different ones. The phrase, "a quiet growing time" is what resonated most with me. There was so much to learn and see! I wish I would've noticed the one on the shy child. Somehow, I overlooked that. It was great to hear your recap though!