Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Prepping for Convention Season

For all of you home schooling Moms, you know what's coming? Convention season. For some of us, it's an exciting thought, for others it's a dreaded thought. I think we, as home school parents, should go to the convention every year, whether we like it or not. Why? Because it helps us to be better educated and if we don't need the education surely some newbie does and they could use a veteran's advice.

I happen to love convention season. I love going to conventions whether I am working the convention or attending the convention. I love all the books, all the new curriculums and the science kits, oh and the history add-ons and did I mention the books. (Seriously, where else can you buy owl pellets, a how-to knit book, a Bible and Historical comparison timeline, an Adventures in Odyssey CD, and a Laura Ingalls Wilder bonnet? That's awesome - I'm just sayin') I love that I could learn about how to teach reading and how to teach Calculus within a two hour time span. I love all the possibilities. It just makes me happy.

I am aware that the convention can also be an overwhelming, scary place full of too many options. So I have decided to give to you my list of convention prep. I have been going to conventions since I was 15. For those of you counting, that's a long, long, LONG time. First as a student and now as a Mom, so I have some well used practical hints.

1. Make time with your husband to pray and write out your goals for your home school and your kids. Click on the blog title, "Prepping for Convention Season" for a link to my Family Purpose blog to help you do that. Bring these goals with you to the convention to help you narrow down the choices.

2. Read Debra Bell's "The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling" before you go. It will help you get an understanding of the types of curriculum out there. Veterens and speakers will toss arounds words like, "classical, Charlotte Mason, literature based, unit studies and lap books" and it will give you some understanding of what in the world they are talking about.

3. Go with a friend who has been homeschooling longer than you. Bring your husband. Pay a babysitter, bribe your mother or do whatever you need to do to have your husband come with you. My husband is a life saver at the convention. He sees the bigger picture and helps me to pick curriculum that meets our goals and he carries all the heavy stuff. I love that.

4. Make a list before you go of what you need. Don't go in blind, do the research, visit web-sites, message boards, e-mail me, talk to the lady at church that home schools to figure out what you need.

5. Make a budget - be realistic. I spend at least $1000 a year total on all three kids curriculum although with high school looming that number is about to jump, I fear. That $1000 looks a lot but check out what a private school costs. Some people do it with less, some more. I buy what we think is best for our kids. Sometimes that's the most expensive curriculum, sometimes it's not. Keep your husband out of your budget money. We have more books on the Roman Empire than I know what to do with.

6. Plan to go for more than one day. I find I need the first day for looking around and the second or third day for buying.

7. Our cardinal rule - NEVER BUY MAJOR CURRICULUM ON THE FIRST DAY. No matter what that amazing speaker says, go home( or the hotel room) think about it, talk to your husband, look at your goals and sleep on it. This has saved me a world of trouble. I can't count the number of times I have changed my mind after some thought and prayer and sleep. Trust me.

8. Wear really comfortable shoes and bring a sweater, notebook , pens, caffeine and chocolate. You can thank me later.

9. Plan time to shop. It's tempting to go to all the speakers but you need time to get hands-on with the curriculum. Ask questions of the vendors. Ask the vendors if their curriculum fits your goals. ( I love doing this - it saves me so much time) Don't be afraid to spend major time at a booth, especially if it's going to be your main curriculum ( think MFW, Sonlight, TOG etc). Ask me how much time I spent at the MFW booth before we decided it was the "one". David Hazell knew me by name and sight. It's also okay to just say that you need time with the Teacher's Manual looking at the curriculum. Do what you need to do.

10. Buy fun things to bring home to your kids. Buy a bonnet, a rubber Bowie knife, a game, a new Adventure in Odyssey and a new book to read. They will think conventions are great.

If you are not a home schooler and you just want great, God honoring books, CD's, games, devotionals, parenting books, how-to's on grinding your own wheat, whatever, the home school convention is a great place to go as well.

Hope this helps and hope to see you there!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Getting Back to Real Life is Hard

We had a great Christmas vacation. Hanging out, going skiing, watching movies, playing with our friends, being with family, it was wonderful. However, there were a few moments with the kids that I thought, "Uh-oh, we may be too comfortable." I chose to ignore it though, purposefully, because it was vacation.

Boy, have I paid for it. I knew school would make us all be more disciplined and that we would have some issues and I was right. It's a little bit like the first month of the school year only colder and with less light and less opportunity to throw them all outside to vent all that energy. It's amazing what three weeks of looser boundaries can bring. Not utter chaos, but close.

I am reminded that consitency is the key and that I need to pick my battles, again. It is nice that the re-training period is shorter now than when they were younger but no less painful.

So, I stick my nose back into my parenting books and look again in Proverbs and Psalms and James for motivation and get to it. We'll all be better off if I do.

I did love our Christmas though. I am putting up pictures to remind myself how much fun we had and will again, someday, prayerfully soon.


Thursday, January 06, 2011

"Change Your Face"

We had one of the Directors of the Family Ministry (who is the Producer, Writer, Director and general "Power That Be" of the Rush Hour Program) over for dinner with some friends during the Christmas Season. While we were chatting over dinner, he shared something his Mom used to say when it was apparent that he needed to change his attitude. She would lean over for his hearing only and tell him, "Change Your Face!" which meant that his attitude was showing and he was to immediately, if not sooner, change his attitude. I thought that this was genius! I immediately started looking for an opportunuty to use it and I found it!

I had told Connor to go out and get some exercise, which to Connor is worse than death, and his attitude was clearly showing on his face. I calmly looked over and merely said, "Change your face." His eyes opened wide and he asked, "What? Change it to what?" I then replied, "Your attitude is showing on your face so you clearly need to change your heart to obedience and then change your face." I explained where I had learned this and he laughed and "changed his face". I loved it, it was a great moment. It also gave me a phrase to use quietly that has some meaning behind it that my kids will understand.

Of course this means that Scott will say it to me when I am showing my disapproval or have a bad attitude but I think it will be well worth it. Not to mention that I know that there are many times when I need to change my face.