Homeschool Discoveries

Sharing a few things I've discovered along the way…

MACHE Conference 2012 Wrap-Up April 18, 2012

Filed under: Books,Curriculum — kirstenjoyhill @ 8:50 am
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I had the opportunity to attend the MACHE (Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators) annual conference in St. Paul last weekend.  It was only my second time attending a homeschool conference, and I am glad I went.

In some ways, my favorite part was the shopping.  I came home with this major purchase:

Yes, it’s an expensive shopping trip to pay money to attend a conference to go and spend more money once you are there.  But on the other hand, it is such a great way to actually see products first hand, ask questions of knowledgeable product reps (or sometimes the authors/creators themselves!), and in some case come home with your item right away.

I’ve known for a couple months that our current spelling curriculum was not working for us.  I had been super curious about “The Logic of English Essentials” curriculum by Denise Eide, ever since having read her book “Uncovering the Logic of English”.   After looking through the material in person, asking questions of the product rep (I was a little bummed that Ms. Eide was not there herself, given that I think she is a resident of our area!), and attending a breakout session about the curriculum I decided to go for it.  I then lugged what felt like a ton of books around for several hours since I didn’t want to pay two bucks for the book check.  Silly, I know!

I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say about this curriculum in the future, but I will say I decided to jump right in and use it right away, and I think I am going to like it from a teaching perspective.  I guess only time will tell if it will help Miss M’s spelling woes or help Mr. E get off on the right start as a new speller himself.

I feel good about my investment in the sense that even if after a couple months I change my mind, this product should have a good resale value since it is such a new curriculum.

Besides my purchase of the “Logic of English” curriculum, I purchased a few art supplies (using great restraint — I wanted so many more!), a couple handwriting books, and a few fiction books from the used books area.  I even found a copy of “Gentlemen from England” by Maud and Delos Lovelace for myself!

A few other highlights:

  • I attended a seminar on Fractions by RightStart math author Joan Cotter.  It was a helpful seminar, and helped me continue to feel enthused about Right Start.  If games and these concepts can help kindergartners that Ms. Cotter taught learn concepts that upper elementary children often get confused about, this is a great approach.
  • I had a great conversation with a bookstore owner about “spine” texts for American history.  Unfortunately it confirmed what I already thought might be true — I am going to have a hard time finding exactly the type of text I am looking for at this time, given the age of my student and my other criteria.
  • I heard most of a Keynote session about homeschooling as an opportunity to make disciples.  I am challenged to think “simple” when it comes to having devotions with my kids.   While something fancy and prepared is great, we can also have a great time in the Word by just randomly (or purposefully) having a “one inch” Bible study as the speaker called it — picking an inch of text and discussing a few simple questions: What does it say? What does it mean? What does it mean to me? So What should I do about it?

My conference experience was not without its frustrations.  Two seminars I wanted to attend were full by the time I arrived.  I lost my name tag mid-way through the second day and had to pay a $5 fee to get a new one.  Bummer!  But overall it was a great experience.  I’m not sure going to a conference is an every year sort of thing for me, but I definitely enjoyed my time this year.


Why I’m Going to a Homeschool Conference this Year April 11, 2012

Filed under: Fun Stuff and Extras — kirstenjoyhill @ 7:40 am
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I’m starting to get excited…This Friday and Saturday I’m going to the MACHE Conference (Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators) in St. Paul, MN.  The last time I attended the MACHE conference was three years ago, the spring before Miss M began her Kindergarten year!  That seems like forever ago, and I feel like I am at a very different point now as a home educator than I was when I attended my first conference.

So, why did I not go to a conference the past two years? I had a variety of reasons.  For one thing, the MACHE conference moves around between three locations.  Only one of those locations is reasonably local to me, so it is a much greater expense of time and money for me to attend when the conference is not in St. Paul.   The past two years I wasn’t very intrigued by the keynote speakers, nor did I have any burning desire to see curricula in person or learn more about any techniques I couldn’t just read about on the internet.

This year, I felt more apt to attend in general because the conference would once again be in my local area.  I could easily arrange for the kids to be taken care of, and be home with my family in the evening.  But I have a few other goals for my time at this year’s conference:

I’m looking to settle on a new spelling curriculum or tools to help me use the one I currently have.  Spelling is a weak point for Miss M, and the curriculum I have tried to use this year isn’t helping much.  I am excited to see the Logic of English Essentials curriculum and attend a seminar about it. If this curriculum isn’t “it” for us, maybe I can take a look at some others.

I wasn’t even using Right Start Math or planning to when I attended my last convention. Now I’ve been using it for 2.5 years.  I’m looking to pick up my materials for next year and not have to pay a shipping fee. I’m also thinking I’ll attend the Right Start seminars and pick up a few tips and tricks on using our curriculum

We’re going to focus on American History for history next year.  I’m looking to browse the used curriculum area and pick up some read-alouds to go along with our studies.

This year’s conference theme is “Bright Lights in a Dark World.”  I’m excited about this theme and attending some of the sessions based on this theme.  Raising up children who can will be a light in the world is a big goal of our homeschooling, so this year’s theme is especially interesting to me!

Any local readers out there who will be at the MACHE conference? Or are you attending a conference near you this year?