Well, one thing that I learned after returning home from the conference is, if I'm going to really give homeschooling 110%, it doesn't leave much time for blogging. Sorry about that!
I actually had a really great week last week. I got up at 6 every morning and exercised, did school with the children, and worked on cleaning the house. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, midnight to strike, and reality to begin again.
Last night, I went out for a writing workshop at the local library, and my Knit Night. When I returned home, I learned that my two oldest children had been throwing up since I left, and poor Monkey3 followed suit within minutes of my return home. Welcome back to reality.
(Incidentally, at the poetry workshop, we were supposed to write a list of words that we associate with our work. One of the first ones that popped into my mind was "vomit", because really, there's a lot of that in mothering. And I thought "Wow, I actually haven't had to deal with that recently!" Yeah.)
But I was going to tell you about the homeschooling conference! Rick and Marilyn Boyer were the keynote speakers, along with Peter Marshall. We missed both of Rev. Marshall's talks (late arriving, had to leave early because of exhaustion), but we really enjoyed hearing the Boyers. They are parents of 14 children, whom they have been teaching at home for the last 30 years. When they talk about homeschooling, they know what they're talking about!
In the first General Session (which started a few minutes late), Rick Boyer said there are three requirements for being a homeschooler. Pencils ready?
1. You must be broke.
2. You must drive a junk car. (To be in the Old Timer's Club, it must be a mini-van with fake wood paneling.)
3. You must be late, everywhere you go.
I turned to my sweet husband (who is new to this scene, and I think was a bit stunned), and said "Excellent! We're in!" :-)
Mr. Boyer also noted that, these days, the denim jumper is optional for the homeschooling mother, but pointed out that "You always get more respect when you wear the uniform!"
We had a really great time, attended some excellent workshops, and had fun wandering through the exhibit hall. For lunch, we ran across the street to the hotel bar, were I had an experience totally bizarre to someone who first experienced Buffalo Wings only an hour from the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, where they originated:
We got to see an old friend, which was lots of fun, and by which, let me hasten to add, I mean a friend who has been such for a long time, and not a friend who is old.
One of my main goals at the conference was to find a phonics and a handwriting program for Monkey1. We focused a lot on math this year, and while he has made great strides in that area, reading has been sorely neglected. We have gotten through lesson 12 in Reading Made Easy, and have done each one at least twice. Crazy. I wasn't sure he had learned anything, so you can imagine my astonishment just a day or two before the conference when he sat down and did this without any help from me at all (except to correct the direction of his "D"):
At some point this year, he has taught himself to write the entire alphabet! And I can't take credit, because I haven't worked with him at ALL on writing. I love homeschooling! I bought a new handwriting/phonics combination program that also incorporates drawing from Memoria Press. It's called First Start Reading. I like it, because the lessons are short, and there is the drawing component. Plus, it starts right in with words in lesson 3, which was good, because poor Monkey3 already knows lots of letter sounds, and I didn't really want to drag him through pages of working on those before he got to do any actual reading. This program seems like a good fit for him, and I'm hoping to see his reading really begin to take off in the next few months. He's definitely ready, so we'll see what happens!