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Homeschool Convention Tips, Learning about Genetics, Classical Ed Questions Answered

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, March 26, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 24 March 26, 2007
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2007 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!
If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Guest Article
-- Curriculum Fair Help
Helpful Tips
Resource Review
-- My Name is Gene
Reader Question
-- Late Start with Class Ed
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

Making the Most of Curriculum Fairs
by Nancy Welliver

Homeschool conference/curriculum fair season is now upon us.
For those who have never been to one, the first one can be
overwhelming. The first homeschool conference I went to was
quite large. It was held at a very large hotel with the vendors
spread over two ballrooms, a couple of hallways, and a bus in
the parking lot. The workshops were spread over a couple of
floors! I was so glad I was with someone who had been to one
before. I followed her around like a little puppy and was in
awe of everything she knew about the conference, vendors, and
workshops. I was so overwhelmed with all the information that
even now my memory of it is very hazy.

Here are a few tips that will be helpful for those who will
be attending a conference/curriculum fair.

Research vendors in advance

Doing a little homework before you go can help alleviate much
of the frustration and stress of going to your first homeschool
conference. Check out the conference website before going.
Usually you will find a list of the vendors coming and their
websites. Then check the vendors' web sites. This will give
you a good idea of which vendors may have what you are looking
for before you get there. If there is something specific you
need or want to look at, email the vendor and ask them to bring
it. Most vendors have more materials than they can possibly
bring to a conference and therefore have to decide which items
to bring and which to leave. If a request is made for a
specific item, they will be sure to bring it and leave something
else. However if you make a request that specific material be
brought to the conference, make sure you thank them for bringing
it, whether you purchase it or not. Let them know that seeing
it was helpful in making your decision. On another note, it's
a good idea to ask the vendor what their return policy is
before you make a purchase. Should you change your mind in an
hour or a couple of days, can you get a refund? If they do not
allow returns you may want to take a few minutes to think about
it and be sure you really do need this item.

Prepare a list

Bring a list of the materials you are looking for. It will
keep you on track and help you to not purchase too many
unnecessary materials. Also, bring an extra copy of your list
in case you accidentally leave it somewhere. Sometimes we find
lists left on our table. It would be helpful to put your name
on your list -- this way the vendor may be able to get it back
to you.

Bring a friend

If at all possible take a veteran homeschooler with you. If
not your husband, your mom/dad/sister, or friend would also be
helpful, as long as it is someone who is supportive of home-
schooling. Just having someone to share the time with you, to
help find the materials you are looking for, etc. will take
some of the pressure off.

If your children are a little older, it is often helpful to
bring them. They can tell you which materials pique their
interest and which ones may drive them into boredom or are too
easy. Some kids develop this helpful sense earlier than others
but usually by 7th to 8th grade they become quite helpful.
Bonus: They can carry all the bags!!

Ask questions

If you have a question or can't find what you are looking for,
ask a vendor. Most vendors are there because they also home-
school and have a desire to help other homeschool families. If
you don't get help form the first one, ask another. When I
serve at a convention as a vendor and someone comes to me
wanting materials that I don't have or wants to know where
another vendor is, I will direct them to the one they are
looking for. I'm sure most other vendors would be happy to do
the same.

Watch your budget

Set a limit on how much you will spend before you go. Even we
veteran homeschoolers sometimes buy on impulse. It's a part
of our human nature to do so, whether we are at the supermarket
or a conference. That's why a spending limit is important.

When you go, you will find that some vendors sell very expensive
curriculum. However there are many others with materials that
cost much less. Some people see the high prices and think they
won't be able to find anything they can afford. Don't let the
high prices of a few vendors get you down. Stay focused on
your needs and move on.

Don't give up

Don't get discouraged by your first conference experience and
give up on the homeschool conventions. The workshops and the
opportunity to look around and get ideas from all the neat
stuff on the market can be enjoyable. Of course, it is more so
if you have a friend come with you. When you feel more
comfortable with homeschooling and materials you use, you will
relax and enjoy future conferences.

I have been on all sides of the conference -- attending parent,
vendor, conference organizer, and workshop speaker. As a home-
school parent/customer I know how overwhelming it can be. As
a vendor and workshop speaker, I have seen that most others
feel the same way their first time. Being able to help parents
who look like they are going to 'lose it' or whose eyes are
glazed over from being overwhelmed, then seeing them come back
the next year with more confidence and enthusiasm, makes all
the work preparing for the conference worthwhile.

I hope this information is helpful and makes your homeschool
conference experiences more enjoyable!

Nancy Welliver
Educational Accents


Do you have ideas or suggestions to share on the topic of
attending homeschool conventions? Please write and I will
include your comments in the next issue!

Send your email input to: heather@familyclassroom.net

Incidentally, the next issue will be edited on the road.
I'll be a vendor at the INDIANA HOMESCHOOL SUPPORT convention
in New Paris, Indiana on March 31st. Come visit me at the
Beloved Books booth! :-)



Helpful Tip


HSLDA, in cooperation with a special program sponsored by NFL
players, is offering a CDROM/DVD package that retails for $200
for only the cost of shipping ($10).

Here is the link for details:


-- Rick M. in Michigan
Livingston Parent Journal, http://www.LivingstonParentJournal.com


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Resource Review

My Name Is Gene
For more information or to order: www.science2discover.com

Discoveries and advancements in the areas of Genetics and
Biotechnology are always in the news these days. But how many of
us really understand these complex topics? Thankfully the authors
of 'My Name Is Gene' do understand, and they have done an excellent
job of explaining the wonders of DNA while giving credit to our
Creator. Written in a first person text, 'Gene' takes students on
an introductory tour of genetics and biotechnology. Though this text
is geared toward upper elementary and middle school students, the
information is sufficiently challenging for 9th and 10th grade high
school students as well. In fact, there are few texts that do such
a thorough job of explaining this complex science in layman's terms.

'My Name Is Gene' begins by explaining the basics of cell biology
including cell structure and their functions. Included in this
section is some background into the discovery of DNA and an explana-
tion of its incredible design and purpose. After laying the founda-
tion, the authors move on to an interesting section on Heredity,
followed by a fascinating section on Cloning. The final section of
'My Name Is Gene' teaches students about mutations.

At the end of each chapter there are review questions and a discus-
sion section. I really like the use of the discussion questions.
Rather than just having students repeat factual information
presented in the text as the review questions do, the discussion
questions get them thinking and applying their newfound knowledge.
As you might imagine, there are plenty of new vocabulary words to
be learned in this study. Thankfully, the authors have provided a
glossary which includes pronunciation guides for each word. In
addition, visual learners will really appreciate the liberal use of
color diagrams and illustrations throughout the book, which serve
to further explain and clarify the material presented in the text.

'My Name Is Gene' is a solid course for your students which will
provide a good foundation for future study in the field of genetics
and biotechnology. In a field of science that is filled with
humanistic dogma, it is refreshing to have access to such a
well-written, scientific text presented from a Christian worldview.


This is an abbreviated review. To read the complete review, visit:


Last Issue's Reader Question

"This is our 4th year homeschooling and we have 4 children ages
12, 11, 7, and 4. We have pretty much been using a combination
of textbooks and unit studies. Recently we had read an article
about classical education which made so much sense to us and we
are now reading the book 'Teaching the Trivium' by the Bluedorns.
Just looking for suggestions, ideas or advice from anyone else
who has started the classical way with older children?" -- Carrie

Our Readers' Responses

"When we began homeschooling 12 years ago, we started with a boxed
curriculum, but began searching for other ways when my son began
struggling with spelling. After lots of searching, we settled on
a mostly classical approach. I highly reccomend the book 'The Well
Trained Mind', and also any and all materials from Memoria Press.
Their Latin and Logic materials are wonderful! We are a bit
eclectic in our approach, but the basic methods of classical
education teach our children to think for themselves - not just
memorize what they need for a test." -- Regina in Arkansas


"I started homeschooling my son when he was nine years old and
beginning fourth grade. He was in public school for the first
four years. As I was researching homeschooling, I heard about
Classical Christian education. Words like diligence, respect,
and discipline jumped off the pages of every book or article I
read and I knew that was how God wanted us to train our son.
Proverbs 9:10 tells us 'The fear of the LORD is the beginning of
wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.' With
that in mind, I started the curriculum search. Here is a list of
my favorite providers. Veritas Press tops the list. When you look
at their website, you will find a section titled resources. You
can download the Curriculum Guide that they use at their school.
We did that and used it as a guide to follow in planning our own
schedule. I can, without reservation, recommend following the
scope and sequence laid out in the Guide and in the catalog.
Apologia Science, Saxon Math and then Jacobs for Algebra and
Geometry, Shurley English, The Institute for Excellence in Writing,
Veritas Press History and Bible for grammar grades and the Omnibus
for logic and rhetoric stages were all excellent choices. For
discussions regarding Latin and Logic, Memoria Press has an
excellent discussion board and their website features articles
written by classical educators. Don't worry about starting with
older kids; you have the advantage of being able to explain to them
what you will be doing and why. Look over each subject’s scope and
sequence chart, ignore grade levels, and just start where you are
with each child. History and Bible can be done with all the kids
together, you just require more from the older ones. Our son is
14 now, just finishing 8th grade, and can hold his own in
discussions with college students and adults in the areas of
history, theology and literature. He told me just the other day,
'I like the way you and Dad are raising me.' How’s that for
confirmation?! May God bless you as you 'train up your children
in the way they should go.' " -- Lisa Z.


"I also have 4 children -- 18, 15, 13 and 4 months. My oldest is
now in the honors program in college; he scored 27 on his ACT
and had no problems with admissions (my public school teacher
mother-in-law had been predicting that no college would admit a
kid who hadn't gone to 'school'). The classical curriculum really
has been ideal for us. My children are well prepared for college.
They are more well-read than most incoming Freshmen and studying
Latin and Logic is a big leg-up on admissions tests.

We have never been wealthy, and my husband contracted West Nile
Encephalitis in 2001 and was unable to work. designing our own
classical curriculum allowed us the flexibility to continue to
homeschool by buying books at Goodwill and used bookstores for
very little money, allowing my children to get an excellent
education. It was even more critical after hurricane Katrina,
when we lost literally everything but the clothes on our backs
and the car we evacuated in. It was easy to continue school as
many of the books and resources we needed were available online
for free. This site in particular has a free classical curriculum
guide that I found very helpful:


We also use the Charlotte Mason approach to schooling. While it
is not a classical curriculum, it fits in with it nicely. There
is a free curriculum that includes online versions of Charlotte
Mason's books here: http://www.amblesideonline.org

I hope these resources help you." -- Shawn M.

Answer our NEW Question

"I have a 5 year old only child who will start kindergarden this
next school year. Her dad and I have planned on homeschooling but
we are so worried about the shyness. She will not speak to the
lady in the grocery store, she hides behind me whenever anyone
speaks to her. She is very uncomfortable in social situations.
As I am sure you can imagine, we are bombarded by friends and family
about our choice to homeschool. Now we aren't so sure; maybe we do
need to send her to school. Everyone worries we are going to make
her a anti-social person. On play dates she seems to play alone
as the other children play together. I am very concerned about what
we need to do. I don't want to 'scar' her as friends and family
insist we will be doing by 'secluding her from the world'. Are
there any moms out there that have severely shy children that are
homeschooling? Any comments or suggestions?" -- Leanne


Do you have some recommendations or wisdom for Leanne?

Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net


Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!

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Tags: homeschool convention, curriculum fair, homeschooling conference, buying curriculum, HSLDA, free SAT DVD, free ACT DVD, teaching the trivium, classical education, Memoria Press, Veritas Press, Well Trained Mind, Latin and Logic, Charlotte Mason, tips

Next - The RIGHT Way to 'Socialize' a Painfully Shy Child
Previous - Single Moms and Boys, A Twist on CLUE, Map of the Nile

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