I just got back from the a local homeschooling conference and… wow. Well, let’s just say I’m glad I’m starting to research and get informed now, while A is still a toddler! The sheer amount of info and choices was overwhelming to a first-time homeschooling interestee.
The conference included some homeschooling basic talks yesterday evening, and then a whole day of workshops and talks today.But you could also go and just visit the Vendors’ Hall, which is what a couple of friends and I decided to do for this year. They offer a CD of ALL the talks along with the handouts, so we decided we would order that this time around, and get all 24 workshops to listen and comment on in our own time, and get a feel of what is offered through that and through the Vendors’ Hall – a bit cheaper that way too. 😉 Otherwise, we would have had to choose 3 workshops, one for each sessions, but so many looked interesting!! Like I mentioned, we are first-timers, newcomers to the field, with toddlers not quite ready to start but soon getting there, and we are just gathering info, info, info. Perhaps next year, we will consider participating in the whole thing!
So here we are, at the Vendors’ Hall. So many options… so many books… so many curriculum! How does one choose?? Prior to this, I only really knew about Sonlight. However, if I do decide to go with their curriculum, I would have to complement with some Canadian content, such as Canadian geography & history, and metric system maths, to name a few, so I was curious as to what my options are.
For today… I pretty much walked around, flipped through some books, and grab pamphlets after pamphlets. Some reading will be conducted in the next few weeks! But I think that, for someone currently homeschooling, and looking for specifics, like a math book, or a science book, this would have been heaven. Many had deals on their products, and offered free shipping on orders placed that day. Plus you get to see the books and the materials in situs, sometimes even try them (when it’s games or hands-on learning). Many had demo CDs and DVDs to hand out too.
I was a little bit disappointed though from the lack of interaction between the vendors and the conferencers. Most table had only 1 or 2 clerks, mostly dealing the cash. I would have liked to talk more about the products, and about the curriculum. There was so many people that it was hard to grab their attention, and ask question – and I barely knew where to start anyway. Tables and company/publisher names were not displayed prominently, making it hard to distinguish where one table started and the other ended, and pamphlets and curriculum were often tucked away between host of other books, making it a bit of a scavenger hunt to find them.
But all in all, it was great to see what the conference had to offer, and how many resources there are. I especially liked the Discovery Toys displays, so many interesting toys! Somebody’s birthday is coming up, and I might use their website to gather some wishlist ideas – things that will be educational, and can help build up our homeschooling props stash. 🙂 There was a very cool music display, and a toy which was a trapeze in shape, with strings of different length across, and sheets of music to insert beneath. The notes would line up with the strings, so the child can follow along and know which to pull, and lyrics were underneath. It’s a bit too old for A, but I thought it was very clever! I’m musical, and she is definitely showing musical affinities too, so I’m planning on making music an integral part of our homeschool.
I also managed to get her this very cute felt counting set. She’s very much into counting lately (on her own or almost!), she now consistently goes up to 7! Granted, she doesn’t really get that 7 means there’s seven things in front of her 😉 But anytime there is something to count – buttons, pieces of food, balls on the ground, stairs – off she goes. Her favourite bath game is lining up the toys on the edge and counting them before making them plunge 😛 (I love this age!)
It comes with 10 sets of 10 animals/objects, as well as 2 sets of numbers 1-10, and 2 sets of math symbols. I could see this as being a very versatile toy, useful between now and when she really starts to learn math. Now – it’s matching game, a storyboard, a simple counting tool. Later, it’s a real math complement. Felt is sturdy, clings to other felt (I will go and get her a few coloured sheets at the craft store), and the set came with an activity book, which I will photocopy to use and re-use (matching game, puzzle, calendars, put ducks in here, how many pumpkins can you find, etc.). I think we will have fun with that!
Now I am looking forward to receiving the CD (I mailed the form today), and listening to all the talks! Subjects include community building & extracurricular activities for teens, incorporating art in your homeschool with a focus on music (I also studied art history so of course I want to include art!), organizing your homeschool, incorporating special subjects like science & phys. ed., curriculum shopping, rights as a homeschooler, tools for teaching children with learning disabilities, teaching French (I think we are covered being a bilingual family, but that means we also have to incorporate 2 grammars in our subjects!), incorporating religion & Bible learning, mixing homeschooling with other household chores & responsibilities, as well as me-time, etc. etc.
And on this note, I will go and… cut some felt 🙂 (it’s not pre-cut – it was cheaper that way 😉 ).