Today I’m taking a break from my usual Mentoring Monday post, in order to reflect on the Great Homeschool Convention, which we attended at the end of last week. I’ve been to other conventions before so I had some idea of what to expect, but this was my first GHC, and it definitely won’t be my last.
Conventions can be a little overwhelming. Between the lengthy list of workshops and the huge exhibit hall full of resources, there are a lot of decisions to be made. Rather than trying to take in a little bit of everything, I spent some time thinking about my priorities and preferences for what home education looks like in our family. That helped me really narrow down where I wanted to spend my time.
Here were the main things I decided I wanted to learn about/focus on:
- Living books rather than text books
- Resources that fit with the history and/or science we have planned for this year
- Parenting resources to help keep peace in our home
By keeping those three things foremost in my mind, it was relatively easy to choose which workshops and exhibits I wanted to visit.
I attended several inspiring workshops. I think my favorites were the ones taught by Rea Berg from Beautiful Feet Books. As she discussed some of the wonderful children’s literature out there, I was reminded of why I wanted to stick with a living books approach to history rather than textbooks. As I’ve been planning our upcoming school year I’ve been starting to lean toward Mystery of History. I think it has a lot to offer (I attended one of Linda Lacour Hobar’s workshops as well), and I think we will use parts of it, but I want to make living books our core.
Eric and I both enjoyed listening to Kirk Martin from Celebrate Calm. He talked about how to help our kids be accountable for their choices and to keep our own emotions calm as they face the consequences of their own decisions. I ended up buying the CDs from all his sessions (as well as a few others) so we can really absorb what he was talking about.
I also attended a workshop on teaching gifted children, which I found eye-opening. When I was in graduate school I did quite a bit of research on gifted education, but it was all classroom centered, so some of what I was focusing on doesn’t apply in a homeschool setting. I suspect my 4-year old is quite gifted, and I got some good suggestions for books to read to help me understand a little more about how that affects the way he learns.
Okay, I have to start this section with a confession: I spent more than I had planned to. However, I don’t regret any of my purchases because they are all things I know we are going to use a lot. I’m actually quite excited about them still! Here are the treasures I found in the exhibit hall:
- Books! For the children I bought two books to go along with our science studies this year, several wonderful historical books and other children’s classics from Beautiful Feet, and a train book for Nicholas’ birthday in a few months (one I’ve been eyeing since Ian was a baby). For myself I bought Moms Raising Sons to be Men by Rhonda Stoppe. (I overheard someone talking about how good her workshop had been, and when I went over to her booth to find out more, it only took me about 20 seconds to decide to get the book. Looking forward to reading it soon!)
- Accountable Kids kits and book to help our kids learn to manage their time and responsibilities around the house. I was so excited to learn about this program! It incorporates several things I’ve been trying to figure out how to implement in our home, and I think my kids are really going to like it. (Review coming soon!)
- Microscope. This might seem like a bit of a splurge since Ian’s only in 1st grade, but I figured we’re going to want one eventually and there are several lessons we’ll be able to use it for this year in science, so I thought I’d take advantage of a great convention price.
There were some fantastic deals available, and I missed out on several things I would have purchased because I took too long considering them. Some books I was able to find on Amazon for close to the same price, and others I’ve put on my wish list for when I see them on sale again.
I’m only about halfway through the piles of catalogs and literature I picked up from various booths, but I’m hoping to have those cleared away by the end of the week.
Overall we had a great convention experience. I love the Great Homeschool Convention’s family registration that allowed all of us to go together. I did sign our older boys up for the children’s conference, and they spent most of the sessions in there, but it was so nice to have the freedom and flexibility to bring them into the workshops with us. It meant our family was able to get through the three days without being separated for too long, which can really make things difficult for the little ones. I’m glad this is going to be an annual convention from now on. Elijah’s already asking when we can go back. My wallet is thankful that it’s over, but we’re all looking forward to future conventions!