Tuesday, April 13, 2010

2010 MidWest Convention Session Debriefing

I am home. Tired. Glad to be home.

My older daughter, who happens to be a school-building schooler, joined me in Cincinnati for the 2010 MidWest Homeschool Convention. I offered to bring her along, and at first, she balked, because she is not a homeschooler. (Her sister is.) I asked her to look over the teen track before making a decision, and she liked what she saw and she joined me on the trip.

Thursday evening, 5 pm - 9 pm; Friday, 8:30 am - 9 + pm; and Saturday, 8:30-6pm, we attended sessions or shopped in the exhibit hall.

The list of presenters and topics each session made choosing one presentation each hour very challenging. For the opening session of the convention, my daughter and I headed to see John Stonestreet from Summit Ministries as he spoke about why students walk away from their faith. Stonestreet is an excellent speaker who knows his stuff, and he's passionate about Christ. My daughter attended quite a few of his presentations and went to bed one night quoting him. I'd like to send my children to one of the Summit Ministries student conferences in the future. (I found this particular lecture here.)

First time homeschool convention speakers Tim Cash and his wife, Barb Cash drew big crowds. Tim Cash is a former MLB player who is a MLB chaplain, dad of five, and husband to Barb. I attended two of his four sessions. (The other two sessions were for men.) My daughter and I attended the first of Tim Cash's sessions together, Not Ashamed - Living Out Your Faith – The Power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. - He is a really fun, yet serious and authentic combination of teacher/preacher/story teller and I don't think we checked our watches once during his presentation. Cash brought up a question for self-examination, "Have I embraced God for WHO HE IS, or have I reduced Him to who I want Him to be?" Tim Cash reminded me, "God is not going to put something too heavy or ill-fitting on me." And he spotlighted a Ravi Zacharias quote that has deep meaning for me as I consider the behavioral intervention we began with (and ultimately abandoned) as a child was diagnosed with autism nine years ago: "Rules without intimate relationship will always promote rebellion."

I attended Tim Cash's second presentation, Sportsmanship & Godly Character – The Value of Athletic Competition, without my daughter. (She headed to the teen track to hear Jeff Myers talk about Four Deadly Questions that session.) My son (also a school-building-schooler) is a big sports fan, and baseball is his favorite sport. We've been involved in baseball for several years, and we see the boys on the team (mine included) struggle with the wrong focus each season. Ever see a child's entire day ruined by one at-bat or play on the baseball diamond? I have. Cash walked us through what the focus should be, illustrated with anecdotes, supported by scripture, with practical examples of what good character on the playing field looks like on the outside and thinks on the inside. I left that session with several pages of notes and a lot on my mind. Cash stretched me and grew me. I purchased a copy of the audio on CD of this presentation to share with my men at home. And I'd like to send my son to one of the UPI clinics (the list of clinics for 2010 is not yet on the web site).

Barb Cash spoke on the topic, She Senses the Worth of Her Work ~ Finding Value and Beauty in This Crazy Homeschooling Life. Barb Cash is a match for her husband, Tim, on the wisdom and entertaining scales. She's a delight to hear. She's also a story teller, letting her stories illustrate her points, and when she described a quiet moment after breakfast, where she noticed the table covered in dishes, spilled pancake syrup, a big mess left for her to clean up, her reaction was not upset, but praise and thanks that she would get to share her lives with these people, her husband and her children. She reminded us of 1 Timothy 6:6 and jerked a knot in my tail. I can let the drama and challenges of autism weigh me down and color my days in a negative way. She illuminated my need for an attitude adjustment for sure.

Wendy A. West Pidkaminy, LCSW, spoke on the topic, Parenting Challenging Children with Power, Love and Sound Mind: The Nurtured Heart Approach from a Biblical Viewpoint. I went with one child (the one with autism) in mind, and left with a different child in mind. I headed to the vendor hall and purchased Pidkaminy's book for more clarification. An hour was too short to touch on more than a brief overview. Her book and program are the Christian version of the work of Howard Glasser and his Nurtured Heart Approach. In many ways, the approach uses some of the techniques we learned in the behavioral approach we abandoned many years ago, yet the approach, I think, uses the techniques in the right way, for the right reason, in the right context (the context of relationships). Seems that with challenging children, we tend to be very negative with them, telling them what they do wrong, what they need to do better, more than we affirm what they do right. Shifting to the positive is enough, according to Pidkaminy, to be a catalyst in huge positive changes in the child and the family. I will have to write about this one as I read the book in depth.

Jay Ryan spoke on the topic, Classical Astronomy: The Biblical Purpose for the Sun, Moon and Stars. This was one of the many rooms that was too small for the crowd who came, although my daughter and I managed to get seats in this one. (There were sessions we were unable to attend because all the seats were taken and every inch of floor and wall space were taken by people.) Ryan taught us about how to look at the day and night sky for clues about time, navigation, and season, and how to use the sun, moon, and stars without a telescope, in the classical sense. I had no idea that when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed under a full moon. After 24 hours of consideration, I purchased Ryan's textbook and hope to use some of it this summer to study the night sky. This session was videotaped and will be available, free, on The Homeschool Channel. Sign up for e-mail notifications so you'll know when this one airs.

Dr. Larry Schweikart is a history professor at the University of Dayton, and author of several books. He spoke on the topic of one of his books (with author Mike Allen), "A Patriot's History of the United States". He clearly loves history and draws the audience in because of his passion. He loves this country, too. Schweikart wants to set the record straight - the textbooks that my children use in public school are slanted, he says, and he has authored and co-authored books to dispel myths and lies that our children are being taught in school. My daughter went with me to this session, and she and I found it interesting and timely. He opened my eyes to the history being taught to my school-building school kids. (UPDATE: Saturday, 17-Apr-10, I found "A Patriot's History of the United States" in paperback at a warehouse club for under $14.)

Julie Anderson's session was another packed session in a too-small room. Who knew that Understanding Introversion / Extroversion (I/E) Level would be so popular? Introversion and extroversion refer to the amount of external stimulation your brain needs or wants in order to feel happy, content. I had some big a-ha moments in this session - my husband and I are probably extreme opposites. This is a topic I'd like to study more. I wish I'd had time to talk to Julie in the exhibit hall. (There is a clip from the session here.)

Scott Flansburg: The Human Calculator spent an hour dazzling us with his ability to add, subtract, multiply, and divide at warp speed. He gave the audience some tricks and short cuts, and taught us to begin counting with zero and end with nine instead of beginning at one and ending with ten. His favorite number is nine. And he taught us why. My daughter and I enjoyed that hour very much - it was another session where I don't think we checked our watches.

Tim Hawkins performed during the convention. Our tickets to his show were late Friday night. We laughed and laughed and laughed! Click through to his web site and watch some of his clips. He's so gifted!

Psychologist and parenting expert ("Traditional Parenting") John Rosemond's first session on Thursday night was supposed to be about parenting strong-willed children. After a half-hour of listening to him talk about why we don't need experts like him (our grandmothers didn't need them, he reminded us), never getting to the topic of the strong-willed child, and in my mind, running out of time to talk about them, I slipped out of the session and headed to the vendor hall. I stayed long enough to hear him say that if we stacked all the parenting books one on top of the other, the ones listed at Amazon dot com, well over 100,000 titles, they'd compete with the height of a skyscraper, and he nicknamed them, "The Tower of Parenting Babel". He was humorous, but not what I came for. So, I left. If he actually got to the topic of strong-willed children, I don't know, because I wasn't there. And I opted to skip all of his other sessions. I plan to borrow some of his books from the library over the summer to get an idea of what, exactly, I missed.

Jan Bedell is a neurodevelopmentalist who is a practioner of the ND approach. I attended a session about homeschooling a special needs child, where Bedell outlined the sensory challenges experienced by our children. Having studied sensory challenges for the past nine years, including the HANDLE approach (another neurodevelopmental approach), I was mostly bored. I had a couple of specific questions I wanted to ask Bedell about autism, but never managed to catch her alone at her vendor booth in order to chat with her. I did get a copy of the free articles about autism and learning disabilities that she offered at her booth. I haven't read them yet.

Attorney David Gibbs had my attention during the very last session of the convention. Parental Rights Amendment – Is it Necessary? Is it Dangerous? In summary, Gibbs believes that spelling out parental rights in an amendment may actually narrow the rights we currently have. He reminded us to pray and pray more, reminded us of the privilege we have to approach the throne of God at any time, for as long as we desire. Gibbs compared our open door with our Heavenly Father to a 10-minute meeting we might be able to get with a legislator. Christians need to pray and pray more.

We tried to get into several sessions that were filled to capacity. In an attempt to maximize time in the massive vendor hall, we failed to arrive early enough for a seat in a small room. I wanted to see Shelley Noonan; my daughter wanted to see Jobe Martin's presentations on creatures that defy evolution. I'm not sure why the conference organizers put some of the presentations in small rooms. With 4500 families registered, my guess is that most sessions would draw more than 100 attendees.

The Homeschool Channel gave me a list of presentations they were videotaping at the convention that will air here. They told me to provide my e-mail address, and I did, and within 24 hours, I had a notification from them of what would air next (nothing from this convention, yet). From the MidWest Homeschool Convention of 2010, Dr Susan Wise Bauer, Amanda Bennett, Woody Robertson, Barbara Beers, Terri Johnson, Michael Flaherty, Leigh Bortins, David Quine, Catherine Levinson, Jim Weiss, Jay Ryan, Cindy Wiggers, Carol Barnier, Dr Jobe Martin, and Andrew Pudewa are a few of the speakers on that list; the list is substantial.

I took the time to look at the list of presentations being video-recorded, which allowed me the opportunity to attend other live sessions, and purchased 11 audio CDs of sessions I could not attend that were not video recorded.

My daughter and I had many opportunities to speak with folks while waiting in line or eating a meal at the convention, and as I spoke with them, wished I'd changed my gameplan a bit. There are quite a few sessions for students in or approaching high school that have to do with transcripts and test-taking that apply to everyone, not just homeschoolers. We might have spent a little time on those topics at the convention, but didn't this year.

The weekend passed quickly and was fun. We learned a lot.


Loving learning at Home said...

Wow, Penny. You really saw a lot of people. I was bad and didn't see near as many speakers as I would have liked. So nice to see you!

Heather said...

So interesting! I am glad you enjoyed yourself with your daughter:) I will check out the Homeschool Channel right now. I'm going to the HEAV convention in June I hope it is good--it will be my first HS convention:)

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