Sunday, August 19, 2007

Life is Good!

It really is! We are winding down the summer here, getting ready for school and trying to reconfigure our schedule so that we balance school, work, and play into our daily lives.

Mark and I had the opportunity to attend the THSC's convention yesterday. In all of my years of homeschooling, I have avoided these types of events for fear that I would buy too much, question everything I am doing, totally confuse myself, and leave feeling like I was a terrible homeschooler and I would never figure things out.

I am glad I waited 10 years to finally go. I can see that my predictions would have been true if I had gone as a new homeschooler. While it could be quite overwhelming to homeschoolers that really don't know which curriculum they would like to use, for those who have a list compiled and know exactly what they want to purchase, the vendor hall can be quite a fun experience!

I had a list of three vendors I needed to purchase certain items from. Math U See, Classical Academic Press, and Memoria Press. I also knew that there would be several booths that I would want to visit such as Dave Ramsey's booth, the driver's ed programs, and a few others.

Initially, when we walked into the vendor hall, it was a tad overwhelming. I am not big on going into crowds, but I have learned to face this fear on more than one occasion. The opportunity to save money on shipping is a TOP reason to overcome a few thousand people getting in my path.

We decided that we would go ahead and purchase what we came for first and then stroll around the booths and see what else was there.

This was Mark's first real event as a homeschooling dad. I've been to a few smaller conferences and lots of support group meetings, but he has not had that experience. I figured this would be a nice way to get his feet wet. After all, he will be a huge part of homeschooling now that he is working from home!

Our first stop was to the Math U See booth. 170.00 later for two math courses for two children, we moved onto the Classical Academic Press booth. Mark was trying to not hyperventilate as he saw how much the math was costing for just 2 children. (we have 2 more that will be using math as well!) He doesn't usually get to see how much or what I choose because he has not had the time to be involved in this process of "planning" every year.

On to the Latin program at Classical Academic Press. I know that many, many folks love Latina Christiana. I am difficult. I can't stand it. I find it dry, boring, and not very informative. I want to know "Why?" we do things. Memorizing just for the sake of memorizing or because the student is in the "memorizing" age does not appease my sense of learning. I want my children to learn, not memorize. And if I find it boring, dry, and unmotivating, then won't my children. Therefore, when I had heard about Latin for Children on Melissa's blog, (sorry I can't find the actual post about this, Melissa if you are reading and have it, I'll be happy to link directly to it), I knew I had to check it out. I have been eyeing this set for about 6 months now. Finally, it was in my hands along with an informal logic course and a couple of history readers. Erin Davis was there and happily signed the reader that she helped to write for my son. Foo was ecstatic when he saw it. I knew he would be! Lem will begin Latin for Children I this year while Foo and Bean will finish up Henle.

I penned another check for 140.00 but before I did, I sent Mark away so as not to cause him permanent damage. I tell myself, "it's cheaper than private school, it's cheaper than private school!" Honestly, it really isn't anymore expensive than our previous programs and I feel it will be a better fit for our family.

I then headed over to the Memoria Press table and inquired about the Henle Guide for Latin for units 3 - 5. The poor woman didn't know about them and Memoria had not sent her with them. I pointed them out in the catalog and she confirmed that she definitely did not have to have them, but tried to sell me a logic course instead. Giggling inside, I politely refused and headed away. We tried their logic last year. While it is a very comprehensive course, I think the stuffing I made without water one year wasn't as dry as their logic course. I thought of how Bean would probably be upset that she had to do that course and her brother was going to get the "fun" looking one. Revenge is always sweet upon teens!! Don't get me wrong here. I do like many of the items that Memoria puts out. I loved Andrew Campbell's book and I use it in my planning with much success. I do think that a classical education can be both well-rounded and delightful. Dry texts are not delightful to me nor to my children. My Charlotte Mason influence always trumps everything else.

Having made our purchases, we strolled around. I saw a few ladies I had not seen for a very long time and it was so nice to reconnect with them if only for a moment. Then the highlight of my afternoon was seeing my sweet little Godbaby, Anna, and her parents. We visited for awhile and somehow got taken into a demonstration on Algebra. Little did I know, this was going to change everything. VideoText Interactive was presenting their product and I was intrigued. Me. The one who failed miserably in Algebra. The one who fears the A word. Intrigued. Curious. Even a bit excited! Mr. Tom Clark, the author of the program was so passionate, so articulate, and so eager to teach algebra to the world. I won't go into all of the program details, but I will say this. I returned Math U See. That's right. I returned it. I bought the first module of this program and will try it out for the next 30 days. I am so excited about this program. Did I just say that? Me, excited about that which I used to fear?? OK... this guy could be up for Sainthood!

We have used Math U See for years. I love this program. But I must admit, I wasn't quite convinced that the upper level maths were as comprehensive as what might be needed. And being the math scholar that I only dream about being, I couldn't really tell. Mr. Clark believes that Math U See is a wonderful program, especially for the younger, elementary years. But after that, MUS does not explain "Why?" anymore. It becomes more textbook like and more, "you do it this way, because...well because you do." Mr. Clark's program answers the why. He asks the why. He encourages the why. I like that.
I hope to have an update on VideoText Interactive within the next month after we've had more time to work with it and try it out. I am only surprised that I had not heard about this program before now. It has received excellent reviews from many sources, and yet, I have never heard of them.

One more mention about math, I stopped by the Teaching Textbook booth and was shocked. Sure the DVD looks cool and Bean was convinced that it would be much more fun than MUS. But if she had seen the actual textbook that came with that DVD she might have passed out on the spot. The book itself had to weigh at least 5 pound, maybe more. And it was paperback! There were 130 lessons for Algebra 2. 130!!!! I asked the man behind the table how a student would approach 130 lessons. His answer, get this...."I don't know". What? Yes, that was his answer. Well, sir... good luck with that!

We did purchase another find that was just way to neat to pass up. Drive Through America History! What fun! We've watched some of the DVDs and they are very fun. I don't know how comprehensive a history program it will be, but I didn't buy it for that. I thought they'd make a nice family viewing experience and so far, they have. We bought them all. America history, as well as Greece, Roman, East/West, and Turkish Delight. It is put out by Focus on the Family, so I feel safe that it won't have anything objectionable in it.

All in all the convention was fun. We did not go to any of the workshops, but perhaps next year we will.

I have more to post about other goings on, but I shall make a separate post for those.

1 comment:

by Keri said...

I just started Math U See.
I like it AND the kids do too!
Come see:
That Drive Through America seems good. I will look into that.