Thoughtful Thursday Week 27 – Homeschool Conferences

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I have said it before, and I will say it again: homeschooling parents should attend a homeschool conference at least once a year. Sorry for should-ing all over you, but you should. I am not saying you should spend money on transportation, hotels and restaurants to get to one. But if you have a local event, by all means change your schedule, get a second job to pay for the fee, volunteer at the conference for discounts, do whatever it takes and attend.

Adriana Zoder and Susan Wise Bauer at the Appalachian Home Educators Conference in Knoxville, June 2015

With Susan Wise Bauer at the Appalachian Home Educators Conference in Knoxville, June 2015

The reason people don’t attend homeschool conferences is that they don’t think they will get enough value out of them. I know, I know, some of you are saying, “That’s not true. Some actually can’t afford a conference.” I can agree with that only for the extremely poor, but even they make an effort to earn some extra money for something they deem valuable.

Ultimately, it is human nature to choose activity A over activity B because activity B does not offer as much satisfaction or perceived value as activity A. Sure, I understand schedule conflicts. I also understand lack of resources. I even understand the fact that homeschooling parents are afraid of being made to feel inadequate in their efforts by so-called homeschooling experts.  Continue reading »

And yet, I say, homeschooling parents should attend a homeschool conference once a year. If you think you are doing great and don’t need any help, you should go. Pride comes before a fall… If you are in need of help, you should go. You just might find the right workshop that will get you out of trouble. If you don’t care because you feel blah and hailing down the yellow school bus seems more and more attractive, you should definitely go.

Thoughtful Thursday Week 27 - Homeschool Conferences

The Appalachian Home Educators Conference came and went. Attendance was low. Vendors got in the red after they paid for their expenses to be there for two days. Organizers appeared disappointed. Susan Wise Bauer said this was the slowest conference she has ever attended.

But numbers aren’t everything. I saw some sales being made, parents learning new teaching methods, questions posed and answers given. I saw networking happening, friendships started, and new partnerships forged. Things happen at homeschooling conferences even when they are small.

As for me, I gave my two workshops as scheduled to small but very attentive audiences. I was excited to answer questions and help people. I met my educational guru, Susan Wise Bauer, and spent some time asking her questions of my own. I purchased Peace Hill Press curriculum at 60% off and some really cool science gadgets and field guides for my kids.

My husband got to listen to Ms. Bauer and received a final confirmation that my choices for our homeschool are right for our family. Last but not least, I discovered Virginia Soaps do not give me allergic reactions, despite the fact that I am allergic to fragrance. Their ingredients must be so far from parabens and other chemicals used in commercial soaps, that it actually makes a difference even for those of us who must have everything fragrance-free.

All in all, it was a great weekend we spent together as a family. I wish more of you could have been there, but… again, I understand. There is always next year. Or, why not? There is this online homeschool conference sponsored by Well-Trained Mind Online Academy.


Thoughtful Thursday Week 25 – Continuing Education

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Last month, my sister graduated from a Romanian university with a master’s in education. I am so proud of her. She has been working on this degree for years, a bit at a time, as time and circumstances allowed. In addition to being a mom and an author, my sister has been working for a Christian radio station for more than two decades. She is not really planning on being a teacher, but she felt this master degree would give her the knowledge to continue to write and produce children’s radio programs.

The AL Abacus from Right Start Mathematics

The AL Abacus we use from Right Start Mathematics has two sides, for different operations.

As homeschooling moms, we also ought to invest in ourselves through continuing education. It is not only traditional classroom teachers who need in-service days. Home educators should read at least one book a year about how to teach. Summer time is the best time for this, of course, because many of us take at least a month off from teaching actively. Continue reading »

If money and time were not an issue, homeschooling moms could even get degrees online from accredited schools. These days there are so many online degrees to choose from, one need not leave her home to pursue a bachelor’s or a master’s. I have a lot of friends who homeschool and already have a graduate degree. But they chose to put those diplomas on hold in order to pursue the art of mothering and home educating their own children.

Continuing Education for Homeschooling Moms

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that we use Right Start Mathematics. This curriculum is very different from the math I learned and not just because I was raised in Eastern Europe. Written by Joan Cotters, Right Start Math is Montessori-inspired, with lots of manipulatives and visualization of numbers through the use of an abacus (not an affiliate link).

It has been rather unusual for me to re-learn math a certain way. I had days when I questioned the wisdom of teaching math this way. However, I pressed on. I don’t like to switch curricula often unless my children are not challenged by it or not learning through it. As I persevered, I realized the problem was in my head. My children are learning math. My son scored highly in his nationally standardized test.

As I sat back and analyzed my relationship with math, I was surprised to find myself inspired to look more into the art of teaching math. I even wondered if I did not want to pursue an advanced degree in math instead of foreign languages, which have always been my first love. Getting an advanced degree in subjects such as master of science in mathematics, foreign languages has been a personal goal of mine for years now, but something has always come up, more urgent or more important. And I always thought I would want to pursue foreign languages, not a math degree.

I am not saying I am ready to make a decision. I am just allowing for a subject other than French, English or Spanish to sit in my goal box for an advanced degree, when the time is right. That’s all.

In the meantime, I would encourage all of us to read at least one book a year about how to teach and attend at least one homeschool conference a year. If you live nearby Knoxville, TN I would definitely encourage you to attend next week’s Appalachian Home Educators Conference, where I will be one of the speakers. The inspiration and information which come from such endeavors will take you far and keep you going through the upcoming school year. And, should circumstances allow and should you heart desire it, definitely look into getting a master of science in mathematics online.