Saturday, August 1, 2009

Southeastern Homeschool Expo

The last 2 days I attended the Southeastern Homeschool Expo. My opinion afterward is mixed. I got bits of good information here and there but there was a lot that wasn't useful to me. Before I go further, let me just emphasize that last word there: ME. I'm sure it's very helpful to a lot of people. I overheard parts of excited conversations and many of the booths were doing brisk business.
I was aware before going that there were no Montessori vendors nor any Montessori speakers. I went to hear the speakers on organization, lap books, Math-U-See, art and creativity. I also wanted to see what the vendors had that I could use to supplement or substitute for my mainly Montessori approach. For instance, Math-U-See is often used by Montessori homeschoolers, but I didn't know much about it, so I found that class to be very helpful. Others were not so helpful because, as I discovered, they were not titled / described very accurately. Perhaps I would have avoided them if the description were better.
There were some varying opinions on technique, in one organization class the speaker said (paraphrase) "Please don't make your older kids, especially the girls, into Little Mama. If your kids are doing your job, then you need to reassess." While in a time management class the speaker had her kids doing all the cooking, some of the household management, some of the teaching and even some of the dicipline. Both valid views but obviously a person can only find one or the other helpful - although I personally didn't find either of those workshops helpful.
Speaking of the time management workshop... talk about a reminder of reasons to be thankful for your friends and family - let's recreate what happened there:
Speaker: Since we have limited time, I'd like to know a little about you, where you're at; what you need; what you're hoping to learn.
2 other ladies speak up.
I raise my hand and mention / admit Montessori for the first time
Me: I'm just starting out and I'm coming at this from a slightly different angle. I'm mostly doing Montessori and
Speaker: If you're homeschooling then of course you're doing Montessori. {with a slight head shake and a half-roll of the eyes}
Me: Well, no not really, Montessori is child led but what I'm hoping to learn is how to manage school time so I can ensure we cover all the subjects during the week.
[side note: this can be an issue for unit study and lap bookers as well so even in other non-rigid curriculua, you can still get off track]
Speaker: Yeah, sure, of course.
So, what did Mrs. Timemanagement, who is of course using the Montessori method, teach us? That she's had a schedule ready for her children from the time before the first was born, which didn't include child cued feeding as she never nursed at night; that their days are scheduled from 6:30am to 7pm when the children start to go to bed, to 9pm when she goes to bed; that all the kids at least start out on the same subject as eachother everyday; that they follow a pre-planned, purchased curriculum of textbooks and workbooks; that she chooses what they work on; that they use spanking as a punishment if a child repeats a behavior that they have been told 1 time wasn't acceptable. That's all well and good if it works for her, but it is decidedly not Montessori.