Saturday, March 21, 2009

Homeschool Conference 2009: Take-Away Thoughts

For the past 3 days, I've been fortunate to attend a homeschool conference held here where we live (what a blessing!). The speakers hailed from all around the world, having educated their children and students in a variety of countries, methods, and situations. While I didn't have anything like a ground-shaking experience of feeling like I learned something revolutionary (which is actually a blessing because that means that a lot of the conference confirmed many of the choices we've made!), I did come across a few noteworthy ideas.

Here are some of the things I learned or was reminded of that I hope to implement/include in our homeschool:

  • I want to investigate these recommended resources more specifically: The Treasure Tree- by John Trent, Learning Styles- by MD LeFever, Jolly Phonics board books with tactile letters to supplement language, Apologia Sciences.
  • Post a pictoral daily routine chart for our younger children... so that they have a visual to help them understand the general flows/patterns/habits of daily life.
  • Use dice & dominoes to do early math in a fun way (i.e., add the two dice, subtract the smaller from the larger, multiply, etc.).
  • Stop overcorrecting beginning writing! This was a REALLY GOOD POINT for me to hear... the presenter said, "we praise our children's scribbles to high heavens when they begin drawing... and then as soon as they start making genuine effort to write words that look familiar to our eyes, misspelled and misformed, our natural tendency is to rip their work apart by pointing out errors, making corrections, etc. It's OK to find one or two things for them to work on, but our first response should be something akin to, 'Well done!' rather than jumping into a critique. Would you want to write anymore if your honest efforts were met with a load of criticism?" (ouch! Good point!)
  • The #1 thing I walked away with-- Doug & I need to pray about, collaborate, write, and prominently post (i.e., on the fridge or wall) a set of our specific homeschool goals. I believe we've discussed these enough that we both could likely articulate these things in broad terms now, but having specifics, with scriptural references to support each aim, is something that could be tremendously beneficial when decisions need to be made concerning education, timing, opportunities that arise, etc.
Here is a list of questions she offered as potential conversation starters and indicators of deeper foundational beliefs as a Christian family considers what the goals of their homeschool might be. Perhaps these will be helpful for you:
  • What is the nature of God?
  • What is the nature of man?
  • Who or what is in control?
  • Who owns my child?
  • Who is responsible for my child?
  • Why do we educate?
  • What is our motivation for education?
  • What is the ultimate goal of education?
  • What's the purpose of life?
  • What is man's relationship to God?
  • For what am I preparing my child?
I'm looking forward to talking through these things with Doug over the next few weeks and months as we solidify some of the short- and long-term aims of our homeschool. What an incredible blessing it is to be able to speak into and shape the lives of our children each day... and I want to do it well, with every bit of wisdom God will pour out on me.

Sometimes I really stink at the living out the details of daily life in a way that matches up to our long-term aims. Ruts of poor interaction, where the distractions of routine and daily needs swallow up the larger goals (spiritual, emotional, interpersonal, etc.) we have for our family, can take hold and it can be difficult to shake loose of those bad habits.

So for me, a weekend spent focused on getting further training, remembering the big picture, assessing the past, and gearing up for the future has been three days well-spent. If you're a young homeschool mom, I'd encourage you to do something similar if you can.

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