We love our kidlets but, I'm not going to lie, we drove the entire 90 miles with a huge grin on our faces and a weight lifted off of our shoulders. Yay us!!!! We were super excited!!
Why did we want to go?
To get the heck out of dodge and have some fun. And we were dying to meet Mr. Demme and Canadian Andy. You might know him as Andrew Pudewa. Yes, we know he's not Canadian. :) But the nickname popped up and we just can't seem to get it out our our heads and we're keeping it. So there! And there is a Maggiano's Little Italy restaurant in Richmond. To. Die. For. Just go. Worth every penny.
The Duggars were also going to be there and I thought about trying to convince one of those bigger Duggar girls to come be in charge of my much smaller and quieter jurisdiction. :) It would give them a lot more free time. lol As long as they're not afraid of needles.
We arrived, well before our appointed check-in time. Not a problem because my hubby has a lot of Marriot Rewards points. Flash the card, get in early. Woot!! Everybody at this Marriot (Downtown Richmond Marriot) was super nice. We're talking Chick Fil-A nice. In fact, when I told one employee that he said that, it was the best compliment that he'd ever gotten. lol
Preparing for High School
Our first stop, Preparing for High School. We decided to get that out of the way early so we're not scrambling the summer before those kidlets are actually ready for high school. Topics covered: Developing a Plan, Record Keeping, and Transcripts.
I am happy to report that we are both on top of it. Most of what she'd covered what exactly what we'd figured.
Interesting things we did learn:
*You don't necessarily have follow your local school districts plan, although it's not a bad idea.
*Colleges look most closely at 9th-11th grade. By the time your senior year rolls around you've most likely already started applying for college so they won't really get a chance to see those grades unless maybe they're unsure about you and want to see how you're doing this final year.
*They don't usually look at your middle school transcripts so be careful about taking too many classes too early. Those credits might not count the required amount of credits in a given subject. For example: The college of your choice requires Algebra 1. Your student takes it in 6th or 7th grade. That credit might not count. By 8th grade you'd probably be alright. (I sure hope so. We're slated for Algebra 1 in 8th grade barring some math catastrophe.)
*Watch out for too many pass/fail grades. Some college assign the lowest passing letter grade to a pass. Which mean that even though your students aced the class with complete knowledge and understanding, they might only be given a D if that's the colleges lowest passing grade. Yikes! This should be reserved for subjects that are more subjective and difficult to grade. Like art.
*Some electives might be better suited as extra curricular activities. Colleges love extra curriculars. Make sure you have some. While the many years of piano lessons might make a great elective they might make a better extra curricular. If you list the piano lessons on the extra curricular sheet you can also list any awards they've one, performances they've done, etc. Think about what will work best where.
*AP over Honors is generally the best way to go. The short of it is that AP classes will be easier for you, the parent, to deal with. Less hoops, widely accepted, no waiting to have your honors program approved.
This last part is common sense to me but, since she made a point of bringing it up, I'm going to share it. Don't lie about what your student knows. It will bite you on the hind end. Saying that your student is a math whiz and then having them fail the math section on the ACT/SAT is a dead give away. Nobody likes a liar. And it makes all homeschoolers look bad.
The last thing we did, after perusing the vendor booths, was head to dinner. Our first mistake. Eating too much bread. And then our flatbread appetizer. The cheese on it was sooooo yummy! Which lead to our inability to finish the delicious Chicken Florentine. OMG! Soooo good. There wasn't even a hope for dessert. We brought it back with us so we could eat it later.
If you haven't been to Maggiano's Little Italy. Go. With at least four people so you can get the family style service. Do not eat for two days prior to going. And wear stretchy pants.
The Four Deadly Errors of Teaching Writing
Canadian Andy is in the house!!!! Super excited. IEW's writing program has revolutionized our homeschool. In the area of writing. And science. And any subject that might require writing assignments or taking notes.
I'm happy to report that I do not commit all four errors. Only 1.75. Shew!
*Teach editing skills separate from their writing lessons. Asking a child to edit their own work is dumb. If they could've done it right the first time they would have. Edit it for them and give it back so they can make the changes. With your mouth shut. Spare the lecture. Note their mistakes so you can bring them into your editing and grammar lessons at a different time.
*Expectations based on age are ridiculous and set children up for failure.
*My child's best IS good enough. And when she doesn't give her best, forgive her and move on.
*There's no such thing as too much help. They'll let you know when they don't want it. And when they don't, step back.
While the session was about teaching writing, it really served as a reminder of what a blessing homeschooling is. Not every child gets to proceed at their own pace until they really know the material. That is HUGE. I love I don't have to rush my girls along because I have some test looming over my head. Okay, I do have a test looming over my head but I don't care about it. It's no more than a $25 nuisance. (That I need to order and administer soon so I can appease "the man". Oops!)
I'm sorry that I wasn't able to get you a better picture. We had grand plans for photos with Canadian Andy but we ditched them because he was hacking up a lung. Next time. They'll be epic!!
If you ever have a chance to hear Andrew Pudewa speak, jump on it. He is a wonderful speaker and has fantastic insight to more than just writing. 100% awesome. Love, love, love him. I can't wait to hang more with him next year. You know, when he's healthy.
Can You Really Learn Art Online?
Darned if I know. Painful, painful session. The speaker, while very sweet and a talented artist, was a yawn. And the session was a big (boring) push for his online art academy. I'm not ashamed to admit that Andra and I wrote notes back and forth like we were in highschool. Just keeping it real.
That's what we get for letting Andra pick. ;)
Elementary Algebra Taught Concretely
Mr. Demme, Mr. Demme, Mr. Demme!!!!! I love him. It's true. I told him so right in the middle of the session. If you happen to order the mp3, you'll hear my declaration. We love the man so much we skipped the Duggars keynote to go to his session. It was the right choice.
He's everything in person that he is in his DVDs. Silly, funny, brilliant, thoroughly enjoyable. I am now a lot smarter. And I did pretty well in college algebra. Factoring trinomials the MUS way. Brilliant!!!!
His best bits were a lot like Andrew Pudewas. His top three tips for math education:
*Move at the child's pace.
*Teach where they are at, not based on their age or some misguided idea of where you "think" they
*Parental involvement. This should be easy for a homeschooler but sometimes parents leave their kids to a DVD and their own devices.
Can't wait to start teaching algebra. But we'll wait a year or so. lol
Combing Classical Education, Charlotte Mason, and Unit Studies with a Biblical Perspective
A great, big commercial for My Father's World. We walked out.
Keynote Speaker, Jeff Myers on Why Kids Leave the Faith
Over an hour into the session, I was wondering if I'd ever actually get to hear Jeff Myers. Over an hour of my time wasted on the HEAV 30th birthday celebration. HEAV is awesome. They have helped move mountains for the homeschooling movement. However, I came to hear Jeff Myers.
I spent the first hour flirting with an adorable baby boy across the aisle. I forever christen him "Carlos". I miss you Carlos!!
Jeff finally made it the stage. He was awesome for the 20 or so minutes he finally got. Unfortunately he didn't really get to go too deep into the topic. Boo! I did hear of a few books to add to my reading list.
On the Bright Side
Guess who we found on the way back to our hotel? Jim Bob, Michelle and some of the kids. There were staying in the same hotel. Jackson held the door for us. Bless his heart. Then we had to hurry him along because Jim Bob was hauling booty and poor Jackson was about to be left behind.
Michelle is a lot shorter than I expected. Pink was the color of the day. Those kids are even cuter in person. Even when tired and rumpled. Michelle was sporting a new 'do. And seemly just as sweet in person as on t.v.
Jinger, my Duggar of choice, was also there. They all looked tired and frazzled so I decided not to try and convince her to come home with me instead. I don't think Jim Bob would thought I was funny at that moment in time. (I am though. I really am.)
They had to bolt because they had another engagement the next day. It was time to pack and load the bus. Drat! I wanted a picture of myself in front of the bus.
It was late. We were tired. We went to our room and ate cheese corn for dinner. Yum! Lemon cookies for dessert.
We were running late and missed our first session. Cat and Dog theology. Bummer. It looked great. We hear that Sonlight is considering it so that even intrigues us more. Loved the people at the booth and what we saw.
We had a leisurely breakfast with our favorite waitress, Arsonia. She's the bomb. She deserves a big raise. Love her!
Then we hit the vendor hall and did some shopping. Hit the IEW booth. LA complete. Found some cute drawing books to go along with Mackenzie's history. Score!
I don't even want to talk about the Miller Pad and Paper store. Who knew paper could be like crack? Love, true love.... sigh.
The Hidden Gem
Next we hit How Art Can Transform your Child's Future put on by the Creating a Masterpiece company. We ran across this booth while shopping over at IEW the day on the first day of the conference. There were two kids at easels working on these beautiful pastel sunsets. I asked the dude at the booth how long they had been working on them. 15 minutes. How long have they been taking lessons with your company. They haven't they are just visiting the conference and we asked them if they'd like to try a lesson.
Holy cow! It was amazing. In one hour they had the most beautiful pastel drawing that anyone would be proud to hang on their wall. Every hour they would have 2 new convention goers try the lesson. I was simply mind boggling at how beautiful and easily these were created. We came back to this booth a million times and stared in wonder. We looked at their display showing the work of 4/5 year olds that would blow your mind. Just check out some of the work.
Impressive, right? We were even more impressed after the session. We got to see Sharon's (the instructor) heart behind the program. We got to see her art work. We got to see what students have been able to produce after completing the various lessons. Amazing!!!
Each level includes 6 DVD lessons covering a different medium. She offers feed back via email or their facebook page. The family who runs it is just delightful.
Each level is designed to last a year and is a great deal when you consider the cost of art lessons. At our coop we pay approximately $300/year and this year they completed 2.5 projects. The same projects they did last year. For half the cost my girls could be doing work like this. Both of my kids. This discovery made the conference for us.
If you are looking for an art program that will give your child incredible confidence while producing beautiful art, this is it.
Last But Not Least
We skipped the last session. There was nothing that really interested us. So we hung out by the MUS booth in anticipation of
stalking waiting for Mr. Demme. We felt we really connected at our session and that he'd like to hang with us for a while. (We were right.) While we waited we helped Howie and Bill Manny (he did not look like a Bill) peddle their wares. Love you crazy guys! (I'm sure they thought we were the crazy ones. lol)
Naturally Mr. Demme found us to be awesome. And said to make sure that we posted this photo on his pages because it was his first photo bomb. He's been bombed but never been the bomber before. And now we're all the Three Best Friends That There Ever Was or, as Mr. Demme named our trio, BFF squared. He's our kind of people. Our children were so jealous. Ha!
The End! Until next year.