Thursday, June 28, 2012

Musings from the 2012 HEAV Homeschool Conference

Get a load of the luggage rack.  Remember, this was only 3 days!

I had anticipated with utter joy the 3 days that I would have to myself to contemplate the new school year and the resources I would use to educate my children.  The time away was even more pleasurable because I spent it with three very special friends.  Mama T is a Waldorf school teacher and long-time homeschool supporter.  This year she moves from homeschool supporter to homeschool mom as she takes the plunge into homeschooling high school with her youngest son.  Mama S is a true inspiration to me because she is a single mom who works full-time, but is fearless and determined in her right to give her son a quality education where he can be safe and allowed to blossom without fear of being bullied.  I am most happy for Mama J who had so many epiphanies while away at this conference.  I got to know her on a deeper level and really enjoyed her sense of humor.  I don't think I've laughed so much in one weekend.

Headed off to the conference after breakfast in the lobby.

Spending 3 days at the HEAV conference is the way to go because we were not rushed.  We really got a chance to enjoy each other and the conference.  On Thursday night we went through the exhibitors hall for some "window" shopping, picked up some brochures and spent a relaxing evening in the hotel room as we discussed our game plan for the next day.  Mama T, our resident foodie, made sure we didn't spend any extra money on food.  We had burritos, salad, lentil soup, and a host of other healthy meals.  Saving money on food allowed us to stretch our budgets and purchase more curriculum.

Mama S is leaving K12 to homeschool on her own.  Though she found the K12 program challenging and rigorous, it didn't allow the room for her son to focus on topics that would inspire him.  Mama S delighted in the used-curriculum sale, which boasts more than 60,000 items a year, including curriculum, teacher resources, literature, DVDs, manipulatives and more! We easily spent half a day in the used-curriculum sale as we waved to each other in giddy glee over our educational finds.  I recall fondly rescuing Mama S and her treasures from the used-curriculum sale with my rolling cart.  She had a stack of books that she didn't know how she would transport back to the hotel.  My newbie mama friends didn't heed my advice when I encouraged them to bring a suitcase.  Next year they will be prepared.

The exhibit hall boasted more than 200 exhibitors.  While ordering curriculum online is convenient, nothing compares to seeing it up close and personal first.  This year Andrew Pudewa of the Institute for Excellence in Writing was a featured speaker.  It's so cool to attend workshops given by the people who actually write the curriculum you are using.  I was even more inspired and convinced that I made the right choice for our writing program.  A new curriculum item that we are adding to our homeschool is Right Start Math.  I went to their booth with the intention of only picking up only the Math Card Games for LionHeart but decided to also purchase their Geometry program for KingMan, my oldest son.  We use Singapore Math as our primary, but I think he could use additional support in Geometry.  Now that KingMan considers himself an artist, I thought he would like the hands-on nature of this program, especially the use of the drafting board.  I called home and asked him to check out the sample lessons online.  He loved it!  Sold!  That would not have happened had I simply only gone to the website. 

There's just so much to do and enjoy at the HEAV conference that you can almost miss the workshops.  That would be a big mistake. We were all so blessed by the variety of workshops that seemed to meet every need we each had at the time.  I knew the areas in my life where I needed support so I focused on those workshops.  Parenting a Teen with the Wisdom of Solomon with Reb Bradley has inspired me to read the book of Proverbs with my son.  Getting to the Heart of Behavior: How to Make a Heart Change helped me to understand that I must be training LionHeart's heart.  I always knew that appealing to his heart was the best way, but this workshop was a true confirmation.  Finally, the workshop Bachelor's Degree by 18: What Colleges Don't Tell you has given me a completely new focus for KingMan and the high school years.  My challenge now is to do so in a way that still allows him to play high school sports.

Mama S was most inspired by the beginner seminars.  "As a new homeschool parent I especially needed the Homeschooling for Beginners seminar.  It was very beneficial. I had a chance to learn about the different types of homeschooling methods. I realized that I’m not doing as badly as I had feared. I’m currently working full-time and I took my son out of school in the middle of the year without much planning and felt that I was kind of winging it.  I was relived to see that there isn’t a set way to homeschool and equally as relieved to hear about unschoolers who had grown up to be very accomplished in their adult lives," said Mama S.

Mama J was most inspired by the IEW Writing workshop series with Andrew Pudewa.  "I enjoyed the very practical tips on how to help male students to be better writers, without discouraging them. He mentioned that as well meaning moms when our children share their writing, in an effort to help, we often point out everything that is wrong. He went on to show us how to help male students make edits without breaking them down with each and every error. This was enlightening and life-altering because my son can sometimes get the glazed over look when I am doing this to him. I am now empowered with tools that will help make a difference in the way that he processes my edits to his writing work," said Mama J.

Mama T was so amazed and inspired by so many families home schooling and so many enthusiastic motivated learners.  After years of private school, one year in a public charter school, and one year in a parochial school, she realized that he needs an education tailor-made to fit his out-of-the-box thinking. This young man has already started two internet-based businesses! 
“It took many years (about 15) of contemplating homeschooling and after so many signs and just really paying attention to what was really going on with our son in school.  It became clear that we needed to make a change to become more involved in the education of our son.  We realized a long time ago that our son, like all children, are not simple vessels to be filled, but come here with their own unique gifts to share and that they have much to teach us. The curriculum fair had so many great resources and I spoke with so many people and came away with some tools and ideas as I prepare for the upcoming year.  I picked up so many great tips and wisdom from veteran homeschoolers and I found everyone eager to share.  The workshops gave me an opportunity to really focus on certain areas. One workshop gave me tips on high school with teens in non-traditional ways through internships and CLEP.  I enjoyed the workshop on the importance of nature for everyone.  As a mother of teenagers, I was truly inspired during “Learn to Delight in our Children,” which reminded us to take time out of each day for real heart-to-heart connections with our children in the midst of everyday life.   Carol Reynolds in The Top Five Academic Skills Needed for College Success reminded me of areas to focus on academically, as well in raising successful children," said Mama T. 

Dinner at Ipanema Cafe - delicious Vegan dining in Richmond, VA

I am considering bringing my children to the conference next year, but I'm torn.  I so enjoyed dinners in the hotel room and chats about homeschooling with just the mamas.  Thanks to the planning of the Mama T we hardly spent any money on food, but before leaving Richmond we had dinner at a local vegan restaurant, Ipanema. At the end of the conference I felt recharged with such good energy! My only hope is that next year more homeschoolers from the Sankofa Homeschool Community will take the 3-day plunge.

To God be the Glory!

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