Saturday, April 24, 2010
I love seminars. Or sessions. Or whatever you call those things you choose to attend when you get yourself to a conference. I love that I get a choice. I guess that's a good thing about being a grown-up (or a homeschooler...). You get to choose which classes you'd like to attend. And if the choices aren't' making your skirt fly up, then you just go shopping at the vendor fair.
Every time I go to a conference and attend the seminars, I take notes. I suppose this means I intend to go home and review my notes. Upon review, I intend to implement the points I noted as relevant. But we all know how that goes with me...meh. So I have this file folder on my shelf full of important conference notes. All those good intentions, those secrets to a perfect homeschool, those perfectly outlined subjects to teach with all the little tricks to make your kids love it. Just sitting on my shelf with the accompanying handout.
Handouts are a funny thing. I'm a little picky about handouts. I figure, if you're going to go to the trouble of preparing a seminar, why give it all away in the handout?! I think handouts should be a guide - a menu, if you will. Then, as you sit through the seminar, you're served the meat and potatoes of the meal. At the conference I attended last weekend, one of the presenters read through her handout for the duration of the seminar. She read each and every point that was printed on the paper. 2/3 of the way through her talk, people had caught on and were starting to leave. I think most people who come to a conference are looking to spend their time as efficiently as possible. Listening to someone read through a handout just doesn't fit the bill.
Of course, getting to choose your seminar usually means that you've got a vested interest in the subject matter. Chances are, you're going to enjoy yourself. It's likely that the topic is going to speak to you and you're going to want to implement the new method/material. At the very least, you'll find yourself motivated.
The last seminar I attended that I really enjoyed was called "Organizing Your Homeschool". The handout was nice. It was an outline of what the presenter would cover. It's got contact information and web addresses for reference. So now, a week later, I look at the handout and I'm reminded of all the interesting things the presenter had to say. I love a good handout. The presenter herself is an experienced speaker. That's always a plus. Experience means time for questions at the end of the seminar. It means getting all the material covered. It usually means not a lot of um's and ah's.
I thought I would tuck in my seminar notes here at Zehn+. I waffle back and forth as to if I should or not. After all, I don't want to be accused of spreading 'trade secrets' that usually cost something to hear and generally put dinner on someone's table. On the other hand, blogging my notes will get them off my shelf where they are just taking up space. They'll be easier for me to reference, too. My notes are not going to win any awards and they're definitely not going to overshadow someone's hard work nor will they reiterate a seminar word for word. They're going to speak to me. So without further ado, here's what I scribbled during my "Organizing Your Homeschool" seminar last weekend:
(Reference Sheila's book To Love, Honour and Vacuum. There is an appendix just for homeschooling moms.)
Part A:Why Homeschooling Becomes Hectic
When you're home all the time, the issues any family has become magnified. If homeschooling fails, it usually has more to do with these issues than with academics:
occupying small children
getting children to work
- Do you find yourself busy every day but do you feel like you're not accomplishing anything? It's like things are spinning out of control. How do you stop the spinning? Pick a point and move steadily toward it. The point you pick should be your goal, the reason you're homeschooling.
- Look to your goal. Focus on your family relationship; your relationship with your kids. Get rid of the things that are causing you to feel unorganized/hectic. (For those who like to, check out Hebrews 12: 1-3: Look to Jesus. Focus on Relationship. Throw off the weights that hinder you.)
Part B: Change What You Do
- respect + order = a more peaceful home
- plan for a comfortable home, not a perfect home
- plan for a flexible homeschool, not a perfect homeschool
- have room for kids to explore and learn; they need space to spread out (use bookcases and have table space avail)
Declutter - one room a week until you can maintain; 15minutes at a time if it's overwhelming; everything needs a place esp in kids' rooms
Homeschool Decluttering - take photos and get rid of the projects; save favourite artwork and have it bound; save important work in a portfolio and get rid of the rest; go back and make school year portfolios to reduce storage bins; keep special work, tests and essays
Daily Housework - tidy time is separate from cleaning time; have regular tidy times with the kids
Plan - have a daily plan; prioritize schoolwork
Meal Plan - menus save a whole lot of stress and time
Consistency - when kids know what to expect, they do it without complaining; mom must model the expectations (eg. if schoolwork starts at 9, mom has to be ready at 9!!)
Inconsistency = a level of stress in the house (this is totally loud and clear in our house at dinner time. I never know what to make or when it will land on the table!); kids will push boundaries to see what the limit is; this leaves no room for creative exploration
Schedule - do you want a regimented schedule or something more flexible? Decide.
Forms and suggestions : http://www.donnayoung.org/ or http://www.sheilawraygregoire.com/ (click on Free Stuff)
Part C: Change Our Relationship Dynamic
Although we want some structure and accomplishment in our day, we also want fun and spontaneity; that won't happen on its own
1. Sheila says kids need to clean
- give kids an area to be responsible for during cleaning or tidy time
- everyone needs to feel productive; start the day with chores; mom feels resentful if she has to do it all
2. Sheila says to plan downtime/creative time
- have rules during 'school time' so kids don't run off and watch tv (no screens, no phone)
(- this makes schoolwork a priority)
- RULES APPLY TO MOM AS WELL (although Sheila says running off to do laundry is ok)
- have interesting things available to do (colouring/activity books, novels, puzzles, games)
- mom can set up things (like a science exploration or demo) to inspire; rotate these
- mom needs to be disciplined if the kids are expected to be
3. Sheila says to get outside
- burn energy doing errands, playing games, getting exercise, exploring
- garden, nature study, whatever gets the kids outside
4. Sheila says to protect your time
- try to consolidate errands/lessons/appointments on one day
- try to consolidate making/taking calls to an hour a day; leave the rest 'till tomorrow
- stay away from email and Facebook during school/family/organizing time
Sheila's last word: Attitude Shift: You are at work. Your children are at work. For this time, you will be present.