What a weekend! I attended the SETHSA (Southeast Texas Homeschool Association) Conference in Houston on Friday and Saturday. Friday I carpooled with some gals in my homeschool support group and Saturday my guy went with me. Both days were a great deal of fun and very informative.
I attended one particular workshop called “Avoiding Burnout” that I think will prove very useful over the longterm. One thing the speaker asked us to examine in ourselves was our reason for homeschooling. Were we homeschooling because we were “running” from public school or because we desired something better for our children? He said that if we were only “running” from public school, it would be difficult to maintain our momentum in that the more time that passed since our public school experiences the less we would remember of them. And so eventually we’d come to a point of saying, “Why are we doing this?” He encouraged us to think of the positive reasons for homeschooling, because those reasons would give us the energy and perseverance to go the distance.
Another workshop speaker did a presentation on “journals” that I found very intriguing. I’m hoping to work this into our studies this next year. And when I say “journals,” I don’t mean diaries necessarily. The speaker utilized journaling or notebooking in her homeschool experience as a tool for her boys to document their discoveries in certain areas of interest. She had quite a few examples for us to look at. One particular journal was created by a young lady who wanted to visit Venice, Italy. Her mom explained that finances didn’t allow the trip at this time, but how about taking a “virtual” trip to Venice? So the girl researched all aspects of traveling to Italy and created a “virtual” travel journal of her trip. The journal included all the travel arrangements followed by pages depicting all the things she might see and do if she actually went to Venice. She included pictures of the “virtual travelers” (her family) as well as pictures of the things that they might have seen if they’d really gone there. Each place included a written explanation of where it was, what its significance was, and why she thought it was interesting/important. Cool, huh?
Saturday my guy went with me and we purchased the language arts and mathematics materials that we’ll need this next year. We are going to use “Studying Language Arts through Literature” and “Easy Grammar” for our language arts program. Neither one of us likes a school book that is cluttered with a lot of fluff and these books are very straightforward. The “language arts through literature” books look very interesting and cover grammar, reading, vocabulary, spelling, composition, research, and study skills/higher order reasoning. We will be using Farmer Boy (Laura Ingalls Wilder), Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Richard and Florence Atwater), Trumpet of the Swan (E.B. White), David Livingstone, Foe of Darkness (Jeannette Eaton), Meet Addy (Connie Porter), Strawberry Girl (Lois Lenski), Amos Fortune, Free Man (Elizabeth Yates), and Caddie Woodlawn (Carol Ryrie Brink). The funny thing is, my girl has read half of these books already, but she loves to re-read books she has enjoyed, so I think it will be okay.
The “Easy Grammar: Grades 4 and 5” book is primarily for reinforcement of grammar concepts. Each unit covers a part of speech (prepositions, direct objects, verbs, etc.) Lots of great worksheets with sentences where the student is directed to, for example, “cross out any prepositional phrases. Underline the subject once and the verb phrase twice . . .” There are also games included to help students retain information.
The mathematics curriculum looks to be a bit wooly-boogery (cool word, huh?). Fortunately, my girl will be taking a class through our homeschool support group for this subject. I have to sit through the class with her (yee haw . . . ) but maybe we both will learn math, eh? It’s called “Super-Math” and the designer of the curriculum has come up with a system for helping students achieve true mastery of math, rather than just getting by and passing to the next level. He was at the conference and every hour or so would have students from his classes do demonstrations of mental math calculations. He gave a calculator to an observer and would ask a question of his students (such as, what is 512 squared?) — often the student had the answer before the observer could finish punching in the numbers on the calculator. It was very impressive, and I think with diligence it will be quite beneficial to all of us.
A few fun things we purchased: a place mat with a map of the world on one side and a map of the United States on the other (good for learning where everything is while eating one’s Cheerios), a book of Celtic songs for the beginning piano student (she starts lessons on Tuesday), a book of opening chess moves (she loves to play chess with her daddy), two books of “Mad Libs” (to be used as rewards when assignments are completed) and a very nice coloring book featuring “ponies of the world” (because if it has four legs and hooves and says “neigh” it is beautiful . . .)
The highlight of the day came at the very end when we attended a workshop on “courtship.” While this has very little to do with “homeschooling” in an academic sense, it was incredible and made us realize how much there is that we can do to protect our girl from unnecessary heartache. Now I’ve said before and I’ll say again, we’re not homeschooling to keep our girl in a box isolated from the rest of the world. Not at all. However, we can protect her as she grows older from those whose intentions may be less than honorable, and in the process hopefully save her from some of the heartache that we ourselves experienced as teens and young adults. The family that did this workshop practice what they preach and of their five daughters, four have married incredible young men using the practice of courtship. Basically, kids don’t “date” in their teens and they don’t really date when they are older. If a young man is interested in seeing one’s daughter, he approaches the father first and states his intentions. If Dad thinks that he is on track lifewise (meaning he’s a Christian, mature, has goals and a means of supporting himself and eventually a family) Dad will ask the daughter if she is interested in getting to know the young man. Daughter either says yes or no, and then Dad conveys the answer to the young man. This takes an incredible burden off the daughter’s shoulders (how many of you have gone out with someone because you didn’t want to hurt his feelings, even if you weren’t really that interested? Or even if you said “no,” you felt badly about hurting his feelings?)
Now if the daughter does want to get to know the young man better, it’s done a lot differently than going off to the movies or dinner or whatever. The young man comes to the house and spends time with the whole family. It’s true that when you marry someone you marry the whole family, not just that person. And so it’s important for the family to like him, for him to like them, etc. And if the young man is not willing to go to the “trouble” of doing things thusly, then he’s not really the right one anyway. Someone who supposedly loves you should be willing to do whatever is necessary to get to know you, to spend time with you, etc. One of the speaker’s son-in-laws was there and he said that at first he kind of went “What???” and then as he sat there thinking about the daughter that he wanted to get to know better, he asked himself “is she worth it?” (worth going through the “trouble” of courtship) and he came to the conclusion that she was “totally” worth it. It was so cool, because they were both there and they’ve been married 11 years and it was so obvious how much they love each other. They have a five year old daughter and he has already started telling her bedtime stories about how there is a boy out there who is her perfect match, but he’ll have to prove himself worthy someday. And they pray for him, whoever he is and wherever he is. How cool is that?
After the conference, we went by the surf shop where my guy’s longboard is on layaway. It is just beautiful. I wish I’d had my digital camera with me so I could post a pic, but I will when he gets it. We grabbed some dinner at The Cracker Barrel and then picked our girl up from my mom’s house. I started getting a sinus headache and thus . . .
The Lost Day. I took some Benadryl last night and again today — and I have been sleeping all day long! Seriously, I only woke up for an hour here and there, but I spent the rest of it snoozing on the sofa. I had plans to accomplish so much, but I guess I’ll have to save it for another day. Hmmm . . .
Well, I’d better go catch a few more zzz’s, believe it or not. We have to drive up to Huntsville tomorrow to measure some windows for a good friend and as I’ve been feeling today, I need the rest so I won’t feel icky tomorrow.
Have a good one.