Thursday, April 7, 2016

Homeschool Convention 2016

At this time last week, I was at the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati, OH, learning from fantastic speakers.  If you get the opportunity to visit a convention, take it!  It's a great way to glean new ideas, become encouraged, and peruse curriculum.  This post will cover two topics: List of Seminars that I attended, and Convention Tips.  The List of Seminars will serve as a Table of Contents, linking to a review of each seminar (links will be added as the review becomes available).  Convention Tips will help you navigate the stupefying maze of convention speakers and curriculum sellers.

List of Seminars:

  1. Ian Andrews - "But What Good is an English Major?" - A Homeschool Graduate Reflects on the Benefits of a Literary Education.

  2. Dr. Christopher Perrin - Why Children Must Play to Learn

  3. Chrystal Evans Hurst - Balancing the Busy

  4. Sarah Mackenzie - Beauty and Delight in the Ordinary, Chaotic Homeschool

  5. Michael Gurian - The Minds of Girls: Effective Strategies for Teaching Girls

  6. Andrew Kern - Why Writing is Not a Subject and Why Every Subject Needs Writing to Be Properly Taught

  7. Beth Ellen Nash - Thriving as a Highly Sensitive Person

  8. Carol Topp - Career Exploration for High School Students

  9. Janice Campbell - Teacher's Toolbox: Planning, Record-keeping, and Transcripts as a Blueprint for Homeschool Success.

  10. Adam Andrews - Socratic Method for Dummies

  11. Carol Topp - How You (or Your Child) Can Become a Published Author

  12. Martin Cothran - G. K. Chesterton and the Metaphysics of Amazement

Convention Tips:

  • Drink plenty of water and bring snacks.  Sometimes it's difficult to break away and grab a meal, so have something on hand.  Staying hydrated is critical to avoiding overwhelm, which can manifest as migraine headaches.

  • Pick a variety of seminars, one that energizes you, one that teaches you new methods, and one for each stage in your children's learning.  If you teach any special classes in a group setting or want to understand your curriculum better, see one of the seminars taught by the author or a representative of his/her company.  If you do not want to hear a sale's pitch, however, avoid seminars whose sole method is to sell you on their books.

  • It's OK to quietly and respectfully sneak out the backdoor of a seminar that isn't meeting your needs or expectations.  Take a breather or slip into the 2nd choice seminar on your list!

  • TAKE A BREAK.  Seminars are schedule with 1 half hour in between and run continuously from 8:30 am until 8pm, without lunch or dinner breaks.  You do not need to fill that time with every seminar hour offered.  If you sit in on 4-6 seminars in a day, consider it a success!  Hitting all 8 in a day will lead to crash-and-burn quickly.

  • TAKE QUIET TIME ALONE, if you need to.  Everyone gets depleted.  Keep an eye on how much the noise, excitement, and new information might be overloading your circuits, and take a time-out if you need to.  If you bring your family with you, keep an eye on their needs, too.  Overdoing it isn't worth it.  Seminars that you missed can always be purchased afterward, or you can catch up with a friend that sat in on that particular seminar.

  • Schedule time to hit the curriculum hall.  Schedule lots of time.  Make a list of books you want to see.  Peruse the hall at your leisure, getting an idea of what's available and where it's located.

  • Don't impulse-buy books.  Pre-planning is key.  Buy books from your pre-planned shopping list.  Or, if you've been trying to decide between two curriculum, use your time in the hall to chose between the two and make your purchase.  If you don't purchase anything at all - it isn't a bust!  You can always order from home when the time is right.

  • Don't buy ahead.  It's tempting to see the books you'll need in 6-12 months and think "if I buy it now, I'll get a discount".  It happens often: a publisher you're sold on no longer works in 6 months, and you find yourself ditching that curriculum and switching to another.  I've even experienced this with a math book that we'd used for 3 years.  I bought ahead 9 months, and discovered half way through the previous level that it was no longer working for us.  It's better to spend a little extra on shipping later for a book that will get used, then save up front, but keep the book unused in a closet.

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