Monday, April 24, 2017

Homeschool Convention Notes - Day 1

Jessica and I at the Midwest Homeschool Convention
I'm a note taker. I process things by writing them down. The last few days I spent enjoying the Midwest Homeschool Convention with my friend Jessica. We attended 9 classes over 2 days and I took notes. My notes are not just the things said in each class, they include the thoughts, ideas, and inspiration I received as I listened. I want to record some of it here so they are easy for me to find later. I'll cover day one's classes in this post. Enjoy this peek into my head!

Sarah Mackenzie - Teaching from Rest

I've heard Sarah speak before, read her book, and I'm part of the Read Aloud Revival group. I always come away encouraged. She had us picture our children 20 years from now having a conversation with another person, who finds out they were homeschooled and ask, "What was homeschooling like for you?" She wanted us to think about what words we would hope to hear from our children about their homeschool experience. It was an interesting way to look at it.

She also spoke about being careful not to add things to our homeschool backpack just because we see others doing them. We decide what is important for our homeschool trek and carry that, but we don't overload ourselves with things that, while they may be good, are just not important for our family.

Rea Berg - Charlotte Mason Meets Plato

This was my first time to hear Rea Berg of Beautiful Feet Books speak. The big things I came away with from this class were:
  • Offer plenty of food for our children's minds, good quality food from the best books.
  • Give our children a vision of greatness.
  • Study our children.
  • Three books I added to my reading list: The End of Education by Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman, Hard Times by Charles Dickens.

Adam Andrews - Witches, Wizards, and Wands, Oh My! Evaluating Literature

I've heard Adam Andrews speak many times and I always enjoy it. He is great about pushing you a bit outside of your comfort zone, getting you to think and consider things in different ways. He spoke about our responsibility as readers to sit still, pay attention to the author's message, and not change the subject. When we approach a book it can be easy to be so busy thinking about our own topics sparked by the book as we are reading it that we miss entirely the author's perspective on an idea and the discussion they are inviting us to join them in. When we take the time to understand what they are saying then we can have a conversation with them about that idea (which means we are then free to disagree, agree, ask questions, etc).

He walked us through a structural analysis of the plot, characters, setting, and so on of a story. This I am familiar with from his Teaching the Classics seminar - it's a lot of fun! He also gave some interesting questions to consider when we are evaluating whether or not a book is one we wish to read and share with our children. Here are some of those:
  • In the world of this story what is a good death?
  • What is a good life?
  • What is it like to be a person in this world?
  • Where is hope to be found?
  • Who is the god or higher power of this story? What are they like?

Sarah Mackenzie - Awake, Loving Your Life as a Homeschooling Mom

She had us think about a similar question to the one from her earlier class. This time it was, "What words do you want your children to say in 20 years when asked, 'What was your mom like when you were homeschooling?'" She encouraged us to make small adjustments now. What do we love? Share that with our children. How can you fill your bucket? Make time for that.

She had us picture what our dream homeschooling years would look like and start moving towards that. For example one mom may want to look back and remember going on lots of field trips, while another may want lots of family read alouds, and a third may really love science experiments and discovery.

Lesli Richards - Start Thriving

To be honest, this one was my least favorite of the weekend. Part of that was probably that it was the end of a very long day that had started very early and I just was at my limit of learning. The one takeaway I got was to focus on balance over a whole week so that everybody's bucket gets filled. 

* * * *

In between classes during this day we explored the exhibit hall. Picture a giant hall with more than 175 booths of homeschooling materials to explore, vendors to talk to, speakers to ask questions of, and thousands of homeschool families. It was a lot of fun! I came with just a few things I was looking for, as well as a small budget for fun items to bring home. I bought five books, one game, and two tins of thinking putty. That's it! I think my favorite session on this day was the one by Adam Andrews.


  1. Thanks for sharing your summaries and thoughts here. I would love to have attended a big homeschool convention. Sadly flights to the US are a bit out of my budget!

  2. Super cute photo Tristan :) It was great to meet you!

  3. What an exciting event. Wish I could attend one like this, but it isn't in the cards right now. Thanks for sharing your notes, though. :) I hope you're enjoying being home and in the thick of things again!


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