Wednesday, April 8, 2015

5 Days of Real Homeschool—Expo Day 2

Today I’m continuing to let you follow me around as I check out our local Homeschool Expo.  You can read about Day 1 here.  Saturday morning I couldn’t sleep in because Expo starts at 9 am.  Once again I start the day with the Key speakers Diana Waring and Jay Wile in the sanctuary.  Their First Workshop was called Homeschooling: Things We Wish We’d Known (also the title of one of Waring’s books).  I loved their explanation for homeschooling…it’s  custom fit learning in an off the rack world.  I’ve heard (often) about how homeschool kids fare better on standardized tests than public school students, but did you know they may actually be healthier too?  Research shows 55 percent of homeschool teens get the optimal amount of sleep and eat better.  In comparison, 87 percent of public school teens were NOT getting enough sleep. 

During Q&A time, one mother asked about finding a curriculum just wasn’t fitting and switching to something new.  She was most concerned that it would “put them behind.”  Both speakers assured her that she was so far ahead to begin with, she could afford to take a step or two backwards in order to find the best choices for her family. 

 Second Workshop—This may throw some of you for a loop, but I chose to learn about Backyard Beekeeping.  Not everything at a Homeschool convention is actually about school.  I’ve listened to lectures about freezer cooking, housekeeping, baking whole grain bread, and now keeping bees.  It turns out the speaker is the husband of one of the Expo board members.  The day before he’d brought in a display hive for the kids program and today his workshop was well attended by all ages.  I noticed the ratio of men to women was higher than usual too.  I’m no tree hugger, but bees could really use our help right now.  And we really need them!  I can’t recall the percentage of our food crops that are pollinated by bees but you wouldn’t believe the sticker shock we’d face at the market without these creatures doing their job. Bees are really the most fascinating creatures and I’d loved to work up the guts to keep some.  Right now money is the biggest hurdle.  I should probably also find out if I’m allergic to bees (I’ve never actually been stung).

During Lunch Break I was perusing the Expo handbook for the feedback questionnaire (PLEASE help organizers in their quest to make conventions better by filling out these feedback forms) when I found the “Save the Date” announcement for next year’s expo.  For whatever reason, Expo will be in nearly a month later, in April.   The date isn’t such a big deal except that my HSLDA membership expires in March.  I stop at the HSLDA booth and the representative said I really don’t want to let my membership lapse, even for a short period.  Conventions always offer the best prices and since I was promised anything I did now would be tacked on to the end of my current membership I went ahead and renewed.  This five year renewal will last through the end of Schnickelfritz’s homeschool career (where have the years gone?).  The 5 year or lifetime memberships are really the most economical if you can swing the cost.  In this case we’ve been saving money since our current 5 year membership started so there was really only 1 year we hadn’t saved for yet and we could cover the cost. The representative also said if we have trouble with college admissions or accepting credits after this period we should call HSLDA and mention that we were former members.

After lunch came the Third Workshop.  Since Mr. Wile had shared with me yesterday how to show Biology on a high school transcript before high school I thought perhaps I should attend HSLDA’s Recordkeeping for High School workshop.  Unfortunately, I had to leave the room to retrieve the drink I’d left at the HSLDA table when I was filling out my membership paperwork.  When I returned Carol Becker was well into her presentation and I immediately felt overwhelmed.  Yes, I will need to learn this but not today.  I head to the Sanctuary—the easiest venue to enter during a workshop, to hear Andrew Pudewa speak on A Classical Approach in a Modern World.

One of the book’s Mr. Pudewa referenced was The War Against Grammar by Dr. David Mulroy. Here are some highlights…

  • For 30 years the National Council of Teachers of English have a plank in their platform opposing the teaching of grammar.
  • In 1963 the average SAT verbal score was 478, it dropped to 428 by 1996. Rather than improve the student’s education, the test itself was “re-centered” and by 2002 scores were back “up” to 504.
  • Latin is the most well organized and consistent language for learning grammar which can then be applied to English.

By the Fourth Workshop I fell into an old habit—every time I sat down in a seminar, I was sure that one of the other choices would have be more beneficial.  I’d slip in a room, listen for a few minutes and then slip out again.  They make something for people like me, it’s called recordings.  Every homeschool convention I’ve attended has some company that records every session and makes it available on CD or an MP3 download.  Please note: sometimes exhibitors may also hold workshops, essentially live infomercials for their products.  These may or may not be recorded.  Sometimes you get a better deal buying multiple recordings or a complete set.  It’s usually cheaper to buy at the convention than on the recorder’s website after the fact.

In the end I ended up back in the sanctuary with Mr. Pudewa, this time sharing about Competent Communicators.  He shared the top sources of vocabulary/language for our kids: TV, peers, and social media.  Be honest, do you think we’ll be producing any more Charles Dickens from that pool?   You can’t get something out of a brain that isn’t there.  That’s why we must double or triple our efforts to expose kids to excellent language.  The best means are reading aloud and memorization.  For read alouds you may want to search for books from the 1830’s-1930’s.  They are written in modern-enough English, but won’t be dumbed down.  For memorization you can choose scripture, poetry, or excerpts from famous speeches. 

My Schnickelfritz is currently under the belief that he want to be an actor when he grows up.  Although I pray otherwise, this may be the key to getting him to try memorization—actors need to know their script after all.  The Institute for Excellence in Writing does have a poetry memorization course that I’m looking into. 

I’ll be honest, I was too worn out to attend the Fifth Workshop—Mr. Steve Demme speaking on The Five Most Important Truths to Communicate to Your Children.   I left Homeschool Expo with a lot more knowledge and a little less money, sore feet, sheets and sheets of notes, and the inspiration I needed to finish this homeschool year strong.


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1 comment:

Leah Courtney said...

I love the inspiration of a homeschool convention in the spring. It inspires me to make it through those last days of our regular schedule. :-)

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