Tuesday, April 7, 2015

5 Days of Real Homeschool—Homeschool Expo Day 1

Several weeks ago I shared my tips on preparing to attend a Homeschool convention, today and tomorrow I’d like to share how things actually went at Homeschool Expo.  The event was held on both Friday and Saturday so I’m dividing this into two posts as well.

Friday AM  After dropping Schnickelfritz off at his Granny’s I headed to the mega-church where Expo was being held.  In the past, I’ve taken my son to the children’s program at Expo, but now he’s too old for the kids program and too young to appreciate the teen workshops.  He was much happier getting to go to the zoo with his grandparents.  He spent the night so I didn’t have to drop him off again the next morning (BONUS: this meant my husband and I could have a date night when we both got home).  I try to arrive at least 30 minutes before the opening session because there can be quite a line at check in.  This time there was no line which gave me a few extra minutes to browse past the vendor booths—not that I was planning to buy much this year.

My first stop was Books Bloom run by fellow book-rescuer Jan Bloom (if you ever hear her at a convention talking about a book sale where they sold kid’s books by the inch and not the foot—I was the friend who invited her).  I went there first to 1)  see Jan and 2)  get first dibs on any books I might find.  I got Illustrated Junior Library editions of A Tale of Two Cities and Gulliver’s Travels, another of the Henry Reed series by Keith Robertson (my son really enjoyed Henry Reed, Inc. and believe it or not my own copy of The Second World War for Young Readers (which Jan said was a very rare find) so now I can return my borrowed copy.

Now it was time for my First Workshop, Mastery Learning by Andrew Pudewa.  We’ve been using IEW products for years, but this was the first time I’d heard Mr. Pudewa speak live.  His message was about the importance of mastering a subject before moving on to learn more (Pudewa’s background is in violin and this is a key component of the Suzuki method of teaching music).  I begin to get pangs of guilt about my choice to switch from Math U See, which is based on mastery, to Teaching Textbooks, which has a new lesson every day.  We got TT for nearly free from my aunt, but in the past year and a half math has dropped out of the “favorite subject” standing and Schnickelfritz has told me more than once that he once to go back to Mr. Demme.  The Math U See booth will be one of my first stops after the workshop.

In the Second Workshop, Diana Waring and Jay Wile are tag-teaming to share why Homeschooling is the Environment for Genius.  Diana Waring was the key-note speaker at the very first homeschool conference I attended and I loved her tape series “History Via the Scenic Route.”  You can get an idea how long ago that was because I say they came as a tape set, not CD or MP3.  Jay Wile was the founder and author of most of the Apologia science texts for Junior and Senior High.  Anyway, the lecture explains a study of 20 persons commonly regarded as “genius” and what common factors from their childhood may have contributed to such a label.  There researcher found three factors:

  1. A high degree of attention focused upon the child by parents and other adults, expressed in intensive educational measures and, usually, abundant love.
  2. Reduced contact with the peer group.
  3. A significant amount of imaginative play.

Numbers one and two sound a lot like homeschooling to me and I’m sure my son gets more time to work on number three than he would sitting at a school desk all day.

Lunch Time~~There was an optional box lunch available to buy on site, but my co-op had given me a Chick-Fil-A gift card for Christmas and this was the closest I would be to one for some time.  I picked up a meal at the drive-thru and headed back to visit some vendors, specifically Karen Holinga of Spelling U See since we were currently reviewing her product and were having some issues.  I’m saving the details for that post but I will say she highly encouraged me to attend her afternoon workshop (which I did).

For the Third Workshop I choose Hope for the Organizationally Challenged.  It was by far the most crowded room in the building (I was sitting on the floor).  She had great visuals of the tools she uses to keep herself on track—like the Your-Minder personal alarm clock.  You can program up to four alarms per day and record personal 10 second messages to tell yourself why you needed to set the alarm in the first place. Then the presenter, Vicki Bentley, showed us copies of the handbooks she had authored.  I was slightly embarrassed to see one of them was the Everyday Family Chore System—that I reviewed three years ago.  I wrote a note to myself to find my copy since I obviously wasn’t following her advice now.

In the Fourth Workshop, Dr. Jay Wile was working solo to cover Teaching the Junior High and High School Sciences at Home.  I’m fairly comfortable with science, having taught physics at our co-op, but I wanted to see if there were any special requirements for logging hours, etc.   I’m so glad I attended…first I learned that Dr. Wile is no longer recommending the Apologia Chemistry curriculum—at least not the new 3rd edition.  You can check out his reasons and an alternative course for yourself on his blog. Second, Dr. Wile went through a detailed explanation of when students are ready for his other science courses and it’s all tied to math levels.  According to him, students should begin Biology when they start Algebra (which is typically 9th grade in public schools).


  Not Science- Oriented Science-oriented Math Prerequisite
7th Grade General Science General Science None
8th Grade Physical Science Physical Science None
9th Grade Biology* Biology None
10th Grade Chemistry* Chemistry Algebra 1
11th Grade Physics* Physics Algebra 2, at least beginning Trigonometry
12th Grade Supplements Advanced  Biology, or
Advanced Chemistry,
Advanced Physics

Algebra 2


I went up to him after the workshop to share that my son was already working through algebra.  Did that mean I should skip General and Physical sciences and plunge into Biology next year?  Dr. Wile emphatically said “Yes.”  He would cover the same material in more depth in the coming three years and he would get much more on the back end being able to study advanced courses.  That was great news for my friend Stephanie who wanted to co-op Biology with me next year, but bad news for my pocketbook since I’d already purchased my books for General Science.  I’m turning to eBay to sell what I don’t need and purchase the new materials.

Finally I attended Karen Holinga’s lecture “Finding the Glitch When Kids Won’t Write” for the Fifth Workshop of the day.  She made clear that labored handwriting takes physical and mental resources away from higher learning and that handwriting enhances memory better than typing on a keyboard.  It is estimated that 10 – 30 percent of kids struggle with their handwriting and that the problem usually lies somewhere else (not strictly dysgraphia).  In my son’s case she believes the issue is a visual glitch and we’ll be taking him to a behavioral optometrist.

Are you exhausted yet?  I assure you I was.  A quick stop at the warehouse club and then I went home for dinner out with my husband. Then I went to BED because the whole cycle would start again the next day.  Come back tomorrow to read about Day 2 at Homeschool Expo. 

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