Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Homeschool Convention Notes - Day 2

On day two of the homeschool convention I attended 4 classes. These are some of my notes and thoughts about each.

Dr. Christopher Perrin - Why Children Must Play to Learn

This is a subject I've been reading about lately, as evidenced by the library books on my shelves, so I was interested to hear this class. He started out by helping us define 'play'.
  • Absorbing - We get lost in a new world.
  • Suspends time - We lose track of time and don't want to stop.
  • Self-motivating - We want to do it again and again.
  • Improvisational - We create spontaneously, without planning and preparation.
So can play be true of our studies too? Yes. In learning we want to play, try new things, explore, dive deep, and make connections. What makes for a great engineer? Creative thinking and problem solving - which come from learning to play.

Other things he covered:
  • Math often goes better after some time exercising/using the body in play.
  • Watch closely for screen addiction, it happens without warning. Shut them off if setting limits doesn't work. Don't give kids a smart phone - a dumb phone maybe for when they will be away from home and need to contact for their ride.
  • Choose media that allows room for imagination. He gave an example of older shows where you knew something creepy was happening off screen, but it left a lot to your imagination.
  • Toys - basic is always better, it leaves room for creative play and imagination. Sticks, string, blocks, cardboard boxes, duct tape are great starting places.
  • Outdoor time - get outside, leave the screens inside.
  • Reading time - Read great books AND THEN provide materials for props so kids can incorporate their stories into their play.
  • The opposite of play is not work, it is depression.
My book list from this class - The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally by David Elkind - Which is actually on my shelf from the library and just got nudge up higher on the list to read soon.

Sarah Mackenzie - Connecting with Our Kids Through Books

She went over the many benefits of reading books, especially reading aloud to our children. I'm familiar with the information and we love reading books at our house. Some things she mentioned that made it into my notes:
  • Don't stop reading when your kids can read to themselves. Their listening comprehension is much higher than their reading comprehension. They can enjoy many great books if you will read them aloud.
  • Kids learn to make connections and process information as they read and are read to.
  • Books inspire our kids to be the hero or heroine of their own story.
  • Reading encourages empathy - we live many lives through their pages and learn to love and understand in new ways those who are different than we are.
  • Reading aloud develops relationships and a family culture. You gain and inside language of memories and family jokes or shorthand when you speak using the books you have loved.
Books added to my list from this class - The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma (I've read this but will read it again some time.), Listening for Lions, and On to Oregon.

Rea Berg - Ancient History through Literature

This class is one that I enjoyed but it was interesting because a lot of what she said wasn't the message I took away. (Don't get me wrong, she had great ideas!) Through much of this class I found myself writing down thoughts that were filling my mind on the topic of education and learning. Some of that is as follows:
  • God provides the education of our children. He brings things into their lives when needed. We work and dedicate our meager offering to the Lord and he provides the miracle, multiplying it in the lives of our children.
  • What do we give our time to? What do we read when we are choosing a book for ourselves?
  • Use stories!
  • Seek wisdom out of the best books. Don't waste time on lesser options.
Book list additions from this class - She shared the idea of looking at more than one book for the same topic, which I'm familiar with. I liked the look of these two Noah's Ark books for my little boys: Noah's Ark by Lisbeth Zwerger and Noah's Ark by Peter Spier.

S.D. Smith - Author of The Green Ember

I didn't write down the title of this class but it was a lot of fun. There was a lot of audience participation and a nice long Q&A session too. We had discussion about what makes us love a story or dislike one. He asked the question "What makes a story good?" and here are many of the answers people shared: A villain, adventure, good description, a likeable hero, a problem to solve, adventure, an element of mystery, a character you connect with, a battle, danger, a twist, growth in the characters, limits/imperfections in a character, the guy gets the girl (offered by a teen boy...LOL).

He helped us see that we like characters that make decisions and take action more than characters that are always wishy-washy reactors to their situations.

During the Q&A I didn't take many notes, I was too busy listening and even asking my own question.

My favorite session on this day was definitely this last one with S.D. Smith! He was very humble, funny, and took the comments and questions of the kids and teens just as seriously as those of the adults.

Right before leaving the convention I made one final purchase. I bought four audio CDs of classes I had not been able to attend. I'm looking forward to listening to those in the coming weeks. They are:
  • Symbolism: Mastering Literature's Most Powerful Device by Ian Andrews
  • Failure in Fatherhood: The Story of a Homeschool Family Feud by Ian and Adam Andrews
  • From Critic to Curator or Creator: How to Stop Noticing Everything by S.D. Smith
  • Rabbits with Words: Hot tips on writing by S. D. Smith


  1. I loved reading your conference reflections! You attended some sessions that I didn't, but see I will have to listen to the conference audio when it comes :) Also, I particularly enjoyed reading your notes from the sessions we both attended. It helps me put my thoughts in perspective :)

    Rea Berg was our favorite and I loved Perrin's talk on play!

  2. It sounds like it was a great convention! I loved reading your notes. Thank you for sharing!


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