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Well, it wasn't the vendor hall that swayed my decision after all. (I walked away from the exhibits with some books, audio CDs, and Lego DVDs - no curriculum per se.) It seemed the resounding theme from the various speakers and sessions I attended was student choice. I heard, "Throw the scope and sequence out the window!" "Affirm your child's God-given talents." "Interest-based learning." "They will gladly learn what they want to learn!" And the list goes on and echoes in my head. As a homeschool teacher, my focus isn't on curriculum and checking boxes off "my to-do/kids' to-learn list." My focus should be DISCIPLESHIP and relationship with my children. That message resounded so deeply with Jon and I, so you could say the LIGHTS really came on! We engaged in wonderful conversation the whole way home, before bed that night, and into the next day.
Jon and I were discussing our children's talents and interests Sunday afternoon. Caleb came into our room and announced that while we had been gone Rachel had installed light bulbs in her floor lamp. Jon and I exchanged, "Yeah, right!" glances, but Caleb was insistent. Curious, I ventured upstairs to learn that my 6 year old daughter (who took 2 years to learn the letters of the alphabet and their sounds) had indeed found light bulbs that the movers must have shoved in the craft drawers and twisted them in herself when Grandma and Grandpa weren't looking. Now, she didn't unplug the lamp and had it turned on the whole time, so we had to have a quick discussion on safety measures and asking permission. However, we shared how impressed we were that she was able to complete this task. (Seriously, I can't remember ever changing a light bulb... that's what I keep my 6'5" hubby around for, right?) My goodness... The lights came on LITERALLY! Who would have ever thought Rachel could do that?
Thus began a conversation with our children about things that interested them and what they would like to investigate, discover, and learn more about. No surprise, Rachel mentioned cooking... not one of my strong points. Jeremiah suggested cars (definitely not an interest of Jon's) and computers (now Jon's happy). Caleb through out the ideas of gardening and building with wood & metal. Of course, animals... this has been the pass the test of time interest. He also said he'd like to learn more about spies. When questioned for more specifics, he went on a discourse about Sam Davis, a scout during the Civil War. Ha! Here I thought he hadn't paid any attention when we visited the Sam Davis home earlier this month.
Because we have always been somewhat eclectic homeschoolers, I review so many different items, and I rarely pass up a field trip, I would have classified a lot of our learning as fun and delight-directed. However, I'm coming to realize that it was rather contrived and that I was still at the helm in all the decision-making. Sure, the kids have been exposed to a lot of wonderful things, but I failed to seek their input 9 times out of 10.
Intentional Delight-directed learning - here we come! Recipes, living books, seedlings, apps, tools, field trips to The Corvette Museum, Lowes, and Home Depot, historic site visits... all things now on my radar. Why? Because I took the time to ask my children their interests... how hard was that? Now, fear not Mamaw, the kids still have to learn multiplication tables, proper grammar, etc. I haven't forsaken all things necessary and practical, but my methods even for those important subjects most likely will change.
More wonderful lessons were learned at Teach Them Diligently, and as I process, I know I'll be sharing more. I must say that this homeschool convention was far different than any I have attended before. It was unashamedly Christ-focused. The speakers spoke truth and life and didn't seem to be there primarily to sell a product or make a buck. Overall, every one involved seemed to display a genuine interest in seeing families succeed by entering into close relationship with one another and in Christ.
Teach Them Diligently will be in Omaha, May 30-June 1. Online registration has closed, but you could still register on site. If you are closeby, I encourage you to attend. There are also 9 upcoming marketplace events. I'm most excited that the TTD Convention will be coming back to Nashville in March 2014. Jon and I are already making plans to attend!