MidSouth Homeschool Convention

Hey, y’all! The laundry is put away, the suitcases are unpacked, and the kitchen floor is mopped. I can finally breathe a little easier. Now time to tell you about the fantastic homeschooling convention we attended this weekend. Great Homeschool Conventions puts on several conventions each year, and I was fortunate enough to win a family pass from Darcy at Life with My 3 Boybarians. It has been several years since I have attended a homeschooling convention, so it was MUCH NEEDED. We don’t have a ton of support in homeschooling, so it was so nice to be among thousands of people who have all chosen the same walk of life as we have. It was a great time of refocusing and recharging my batteries for the homeschooling journey we are on. You know, in the thick of things, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the everyday demands that make up this way of life. Sometimes you just need to step back and be reminded of the vision. And to be reminded that you are not alone in it.

The curriculum fair/exhibit hall was terrific. There were hundreds of vendors displaying and discussing their curricula. I have a couple of curriculum changes I have been considering, but needed to look at the replacements to be sure they were what I wanted. The exhibit hall is perfect for that! You can see the materials, even pick them up and flip through them. You have the opportunity to ask questions and talk in depth with the reps who know the material best. You can see accompanying materials and decide which pieces are necessary and which are overkill. Time spent in the exhibit hall is time well-invested.

As good as the exhibit hall is, the best part of a convention is the plethora of workshops. Great Homeschool Conventions brought in an all-star line-up of speakers – the best of the best in the homeschooling world. You hear so many good ideas that you just have to take copious notes and sort through it all (physically and mentally) later. You leave the place with a bonafide case of information overload. Here’s what all I attended:

  • HELP! How Do I Teach This Highly Distractible Child? by Carol Barnier: Carol Barnier just might be my new favorite speaker. Y’all, she was so funny and so right on point! This particular talk was really directed to people whose children struggle with ADD/ADHD, but she gave some excellent suggestions for kids that just get easily distracted as well. The thing I liked so much about her was that she approaches each of her children as if God made them the way He did for a reason (and I agree!!). Therefore, it is their job to find out how God intends to use their gifts for His purposes. She so naturally integrates the issues of personality with the bigger picture of God’s calling. I wish I could just hang out at her house and listen to her discussions with her children. I know I would become better at integrating faith and God’s purpose with the everyday life we have around here. If you want to hear some of Carol’s talks, albeit on a totally different topic, you can listen here.
  • Empowering the Shy Child by Carol Barnier: Equally as phenomenal! Y’all, she spoke so sweetly of her shy daughter and how she teaches her that God made her tender-hearted and gave her ears to hear what is really going on with people. She notices things that other people miss because they aren’t paying attention like her shy child does. They talk daily about how God will use this beautiful trait for His glory. Now don’t get me wrong, she gave some very practical advice on how to help shy children adjust in social settings in which they aren’t comfortable, but she encouraged us to look at shyness as a characteristic to be cherished instead of a defect to be overcome. It was funny and beautiful. Did I say already that I want to go to her house? Because I do.
  • Excellence in Writing: I have been considering this writing curriculum for a while. Although I have liked our writing curriculum okay, I just felt like we could be learning more about HOW TO WRITE. And then actually, you know, WRITING. But the IEW curriculum is so complex that I have never been able to figure out where to start. I was glad to see that I could attend a workshop that told me exactly how to get started and which pieces I needed to buy. They covered the material explicitly, and I went by their booth afterward to flip through it all. I found my starting point and will be ordering the materials soon.
  • Educating Our Own Minds: How To Teach Ourselves As We Teach Our Kids by Dr. Susan Wise Bauer: Dr. Bauer is probably the best-known homeschooling advocate in the country. Her homeschooling background is two generations deep. She was homeschooled, and she now homeschools her children. She teaches writing and literature at the College of William and Mary. This talk was based on the book The Well-Trained Mind, which is basically about how to educate yourself through the reading of literature, read in chronological order by genre. She was entertaining and enlightening, as usual, and had the best shoes at the conference. Not that a homeschooling convention is the best place to look for fashion inspiration, but her shoes were fantastic.
  • Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe by Todd Wilson: Todd Wilson’s ministry is mainly to fathers, but I really enjoyed hearing his perspective on the homeschooling mom. He was funny and spoke TRUTH. He let mamas off the hook on a lot of guilt that we carry around. He was extremely encouraging. I liked him so much that I talked Jonathan into coming back the next day for one of his talks to fathers, and he praised him also.
  • Setting the Paradigm for Purity: What can I say? You can’t win them all.While the information presented in this workshop was all true, none of it was new or earth-shattering. Heard it all and done it all before.
  • Parenting the Strong-Willed Child and The Well-Behaved Child: Discipline That Works by John Rosemond: I first heard John Rosemond speak when Mary Anneliese was a baby. I had no idea what to do with a child and certainly had no idea what kinds of situations I would face in the future. Since that time, I have looked to his teaching several times when I just didn’t know what to do in certain situations. His basic premise is that for thousands of years, we have brought up children according to the same set of standards, which were biblically-based, and have had no serious deviations or problems. But in the 1960-1970’s, when the psychology movement began to gain steam, child-rearing philosophies began to change, and we are now paying the toll for steering away from traditional methods. He gave a good admonition to go “back to the basics” and our children will benefit. He says that the two pillars of raising a child properly are love and leadership. Parents need to stop doing everything for their children and instead lead by example.

If you are a homeschooler, I know that it is a ton of work to get to a conference like this. They are expensive and they require a chunk of time. However, it is time and money well-invested. It will renew your purpose in homeschooling and relieve a lot of the guilt associated with being a mom-who-does-it-all. There are many great conferences to choose from, but Great Homeschool Conventions has three more scheduled for this year. Some of the speakers are different for each conference, but I know they will all be good Here’s what they have scheduled:

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
Proverbs 27:17

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