April 17, 2005

MACHE conference overview

Overall I had a great time and learned quite a bit. Some sessions I attended I knew much of the material already, yet oftentimes the presenter was able to offer me some great insight I needed to hear when I was not expecting it. I was able to get something out of every session I attended, even when I was not so sure I would. Some of course were better than others for me. I probably gained the most out of Diana Waring's presentations, especially her Elements of a Biblical Education, as her style and information really clicked with mine and I appreciated her energy.

David Hazell's marching around the room as the worksheet Gestapo and then getting down on his knees as the worksheet Santa Claus may be the image that most sticks in my mind from the conference and probably brought the greatest laughs as it hit us all directly to the heart. SM Davis had some excellent points about anger I needed to hear but the overall speech was extremely difficult for me because I was so distracted by his presentation style. I found myself feeling like I was sitting in Johnathen Edward's pew.

Connie Swan's "How to Begin" class was mostly review for me but from her I got the important points to keep my homeschooling fun and to start my day every day with blessing my children. She also brought home the reality that my cute, loving and needy son will all too soon turn into a "prickly porcupine" and not want my affection or touch.

Karen Bryant and John Tuma's presentation on the law and homeschooling was a very important one to attend. It was encouraging to see them teaching about the differences between an online government funded education such as K-12 or other online virtual academy's that market themselves as homeschooling and independent homeschooling which most of us do. While there are some benefits and advantages to government funded online education programs they are different from home educating as you give up your control over curriculum, testing and most everything when you accept their "free" computer and curriculum. This is an important legal battle we all need to be ready for.

Of course beyond all the wonderful speakers I got to see there were many others. There were also a great deal of vendors there. I was excited that I did not have this overwhelming urge to purchase everything and anything as I feared I might. I went with a 50 dollar budget for supplies and books and I spent 49.00. Of course for me the worst temptation is not the shiny new curriculums but the used book sales with all those great old friends marked down so cheaply they practically beg me to take them home. I was strong. I did buy quite a few but tried to find things we truly were looking for before or would love and use regularly.

I must admit I almost got sucked into buying a new curriculum for next year. David Hazell from My Father's World gave a compelling presentation and more importantly the materials are quite good. Had I not already had good materials that I really like for next year I very likely would have bought it. I will consider it for second or third grade. The program offers the convenience of a prepackaged curriculum with an emphasis on Charlotte Mason, Classical Education and unit studies. I really was impressed with the schedule and much of what I read and found at the booth. The only thing I did purchase was their First Grade Bible History Reader which according to their website:

"Using a thematic approach, Bible history from Genesis to Revelation is the focus of this learning adventure. Phonics lessons develop the needed skills to read Bible stories from our Bible Reader. Students retell (narrate) the Bible story and create a lovely keepsake Bible Notebook in which they summarize and illustrate Bible stories. Weekly memory verses selected from Proverbs help strengthen handwriting skills as well as biblical character."

This reader actually is very nice and the art notebook they did along with it excellent. I really loved it and think it will make a nice addition to our homeschool program for next year. But I did not let myself purchase the entire 1st grade package as I have so much of that covered already and I still do not know how I would feel being boxed in like that. Though for those still looking - especially for 2nd-8th grade it is appealing. I was less impressed with the K and 1st grade packages.

There were many wonderful people I met as I sat in the rooms waiting for the sessions to start. So many interesting conversations and so many interesting stories and people. I am glad I met so many of you and look forward to getting to know you better. Feel free to leave me an email or comment here. I was exciting to meet some people who actually read what I write, Hi Laur! I learn so much from each of you as together we walk this homeschool adventure.

All in all MACHE was very refreshing for me. As time permits I will review the different sessions I attended but for now know that it reminded me to loosen up some and get back to a love of learning. Sometimes I think we all get into worksheet slumps or academic battles, the spring time is a perfect time to cure ourselves of that and get outside more, enjoy our kids, enjoy our lives, enjoy our homeschooling adventure.

Remember homeschooling is about educating our children, their whole body, mind and spirit. Recall the reasons why you chose to homeschool and evaluate whether you are achieving those goals. Are your kids eyes lighting up, are they asking for more? Are you all having fun atleast some of the time? Let's get back to the passion of home educating and enjoy our families and our time to learn and grow together.


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