At the last minute, we decided to attend the home school convention here in Orlando put on by the Florida Parent Educator Association (FPEA). We decided not to attend last year because at this time last year we were still up to our eyeballs trying to sort things out. We assumed, we think rightfully, the convention at that time for us would have just drowned us. But this year, we had almost a year under our belt so it seemed like it might be worthwhile. Even so, we procrastinated watching the price go up as we missed all the early discounts. I think we literally decided on the first day of the convention to go ahead and attend.
Not to spoil the punch line, but even at the door price, it was money well spent. I think all of us managed to get something out of it.
Since we did not have a babysitter handy, we decided to haul everyone down on Thursday to see the exhibit floor. We sent the two older boys off on their own with instructions to come back with “something interesting you want to do.” Of course, they found the booth with the foam swords and battle axes and the other one with the rubber band guns. But the also found a conversational Japanese course they wanted to take.
Somewhat surprisingly, our 9th grader actually had conversations with several of the college booths and looked excited by the prospect. They also both found several Fantasy/Sci-Fi authors they were interested in. The one author they both agreed on, we went ahead and bought his entire collection.
For the youngest (besides a foam, hand battle axe) we may have found the curriculum we will start him out on. While I favor the Memoria Press line for the older two, we think we will start our First Grader on the Oak Meadow curriculum. Like our other two, reading is not the first skill he is developing and the Memoria Press curriculum is pretty reading intensive. Just looking it over made Jennifer start to panic. In many ways, this alone made the price of admission worth while. The decision to start our youngest Homeschooling now was a late breaking one and we were not well prepared for it.
The most surprising thing of all though were the sessions. Being first timers, we had no idea who all the speakers and personalities were. So we choose, somewhat blindly what sessions to attend. Every single session provided us some new insight, or in some cases affirmation. In one case I walked out thinking “I am a genius.” Okay, maybe not, but I had been holding back on a few ideas I had, thinking they were maybe a bridge to far, only to sit in sessions not only recommending exactly what I had been thinking, but showing examples of their success. Had I not attended these sessions, I may never have pulled the trigger on these ideas.
For Jennifer, I think she got a pretty serious confidence boost. I think of all of us, this last year has been the hardest on her. While she agrees with the concept, she has lived the last year on the edge of panic that we won’t do it right. Unfortunately, I’m no help because I have no reasonable sense of fear or caution and I’m afraid I gave her little or no say in how we did things this year. Our current school year is still in its closing round, but I think she is reasonably confident we are doing well by the older two. We of course still need to tweak a few things. But her underlying lack of confidence re-emerged when we started talking about starting our youngest now instead of in a few years as originally planned. I think the sessions she attended and the curriculum she found gave her the boost she needed to commit.
We still have a bag full of stuff to sort through and since we did not attend sessions together, we need to pow-wow a bit and decide on what to do next.