I have had the luck of going to not one, but two homeschool conferences this year. I know to non-homeschoolers this might sound like a bore-fest of a bunch of moms in denim jumpers…but not so! For us weirdo moms that love to teach our kids at home, this is a paradise. Not only are there aisles and aisles of booths filled with books to smells and hug and buy, I have loved going to these conferences for the last several years because you walk away with so many great tools to use. I always leave refreshed and ready to implement our homeschool with new ideas I’ve learned. This year I went to the Great Homeschool Convention in Greenville, SC and also the Teach Them Diligently conference in Spartanburg, SC.
I learned so much and filled half a notebook with notes of great ideas and inspiration, I couldn’t not share with you. But since writing it all here would be ridiculous, I boiled it down to five things I learned this year at homeschool conferences.
FIVE THINGS I LEARNED FROM HOMESCHOOL CONFERENCES
1. Squeeze the joy out of every learning experience. Yes, really. We have the unbelievable opportunity to not only teach our kids, but to learn alongside them. Not every day is going to be fun and fabulous, but even if its not, we can squeeze the joy out of every experience. All people learn differently, but most of us learn from a whole bunch of different ways. Have fun experimenting with different ways of learning.
Carol Barnier is hands down one of the best speakers I’ve heard on homeschooling. She has so many ideas to pass on, my head nearly explodes from her…in a good way. But she said this: Experiment learning in a number of ways. YOU are the keeper of the keys. Find the right one that works for your child. Like history for example, use many learning styles to teach…books, movies, projects, acting out scenes in history, dressing like a person in history, make a timeline, write poems, create art…you get the idea.
Carol sells this book
, which is my favorite source for homeschool ideas and also THIS CD
which has a ton
of what she calls “ditty bugs,” little rhymes put to song to help kids memorize. We love this!
Squeeze the joy, its there.
2. My kids will get all A’s. But not how you’d think. People sometimes assume that either all homeschool kids are just instantly brainiacs or that we do our kids’ work for them and coax them along, which in turn, produces straight A’s for all homeschoolers forever. That’s not the truth. What I learned this weekend is that our kids should get all A’s in our homeschool, but not because we give them the answers, but because we strive for mastery of each subject before moving on. We have the luxury of taking 6 months on fractions if one of our kids needs to. We don’t have to move on until he’s mastered it. So yes, that child will earn straight A’s on math, but only because we’ve given him the time to master it. I loved that.
3. I must be intentional.
I mean, I know this. But sometimes we just need a reminder. I went to several of Crystal Paine’s sessions. You might know her from Money Saving Mom
. I loved what she had to say in each of her sessions. She talked about organizing your meals, creating easier grocery errands and in turn saving money on food. I know that planning your meals is essential for busy homeschool moms, but I’ve been slacking big time and I’ve been paying for it. Um, its 5:30 and we’re going to eat cereal. Again. Ugh.
She talked a lot about freezer meals and stashing meals away for days when dinner is just not going to get done that day. Things like: making four pounds of taco meat instead of two to put two in the freezer. Also, making cookie dough and freezing it in balls for days you want a quick treat. Some websites for ideas she quoted were:
Also she talked about having your kids do chores to lighten your work load. How making your kids do chores is not mean, but its teaching them life lessons they’ll have forever. Everything she talked about in this session just reiterated what I have been doing with my kids, but actually inspired me to have them help even more. Like having Noah prepare lunch during the week. Lunch has always been a super hard time, we’re just getting done with school and everyone is starving. But since Noah is done before Jack and Sophie most days, he can start on lunch and lessen that chaos. Winning!!
4. Homeschooling is Notoriously Forgiving and Efficient. Really this is so true. So many times we get stuck on our lesson plan and if we stray, we freak out. If fractions really do take six months instead of six weeks, we are then “behind” and feeling like our children will be failures because this setback has then prevented us from learning about quadratic equations seven semesters down the road. But really homeschooling is notoriously forgiving and efficient. We can “mess up” on so many things, and really our kids do turn out ok. We might feel like we’re behind, but there really is no behind in homeschooling. Educating this way allows us to let our kids really learn at their own pace. And that’s pretty awesome.
5. A Failure to Learn is a Failure to Teach. This last point was the one that struck me the deepest. Really mamas, we are the educators. It is our duty to teach our children. Our kids should not feel bad for “not getting it.” They should feel free to tell us that they don’t get it when they don’t. We cannot get angry or frustrated if our child is not understanding something, because really, its just our failure to teach. I don’t like using the word “failure” because it sounds so permanent and overly finalized, but that just means that we have not found the right KEY that our child needs to learn that particular thing. We need to go out and find that right key that will make it click. Whether its spelling words or 8’s facts or writing B’s, there is another way to teach it that your child will understand. They can’t teach themselves. Yes, its a big responsibility. A huge responsibility. But I just think there’s lots of grace in point 4 and we’ll all be ok in the end. And there’s a whole lot of joy to be found in the looking for that right key.
So many great things to implement in our school days. I took pages and pages of notes and snapped them all into my handy dandy Homeschool Binder so I can look at them over and over. Only a few weeks left for us…six to be exact. Teach them well, mamas, and have a great school day! 🙂
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