Tag Archives: Jesse Wise

Getting Ready to Convene

Next week is the big Southeast Homeschool Convention in Greenville, South Carolina, and I’m getting ready to be inspired! The list of speakers is an impressive one, as it includes nationally-known homeschooling veterans, authors, and advocates, such as Susan Wise Bauer, Jesse Wise, Amanda Bennett, Dr. Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright, Jim Weiss, and more.

The cost of the convention isn’t much — $55 covers the cost of a single family’s admission, including parents, children, and grandparents. For $1 more, teenagers can attend the Teen Worldview Seminars while mom and dad are in other workshops.

A children’s program is also being offered, but unfortunately, the classes have already been filled to capacity. I have three children with nowhere to go, then, so now it’s time to plan.

The classes are offered part of the day on Thursday, all day Friday, and all day Saturday. My husband wanted to attend some workshops as well, and we don’t have a regular sitter. I’m planning, then, to just take the kids along with me, and I found out this week that many of my friends are planning on doing the same. So it’s time to prepare.

The convention center doesn’t allow snacks to be brought in from the outside; that makes it a little tougher, since snacks can be a great diversion to kids who have to sit…and sit… and sit. But there are other things we can do.

We’re going to be packing each of my children a bag to bring along, and here’s what we’re going to put in them:

  • A blank notebook and pen for doodling or drawing
  • A puzzle, dot to dot, and maze books
  • Hidden pictures printed off the Internet
  • A coloring book and crayons
  • Reading books for the older ones
  • Small toys

I have a feeling we’ll need to be taking quite a few breaks, and I bet walking around the vendor tables with everyone in tow will be more of an adventure than I would like. But I don’t anticipate any stares or complaints or sharp looks from other conference attendees; after all, they’re all homeschoolers, and they’ve been there too.

Photo by mzacha

Music Lessons Again — This Time, It’s Personal

When I first began homeschooling, my husband bought me the book The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jesse Wise. For a few years, I tried to follow many of the recommendations outlined in the book before I realized that’s what they were: recommendations. I then used it more as a springboard as I planned the new school year. One thing I did appreciate, though, was the authors’ view of music study. Every child, they say, should have two years of piano lessons as part of their education. I agreed, thinking this would help build self-discipline, self-esteem, and an understanding and appreciation of music.

This didn’t quite happen with my daughter Lillie, though. As I’ve written before, she’s struggled with the lessons and practicing, not because she couldn’t do it, but because she didn’t want to put forth the effort. In order to have a good practice week, I would have to sit down with her every time she practiced and make sure she did it — as she fussed and whined and told me I didn’t know what I was talking about (I don’t play the piano, but I did study music from middle school through college). I was unsure if I should let her quit or make it stick with it until I saw some positive changes in her attitude. I let her quit at the end of the school year.

Then, this summer, a new opportunity came along. Both of my girls were given the chance to take violin lessons from my sister-in-law who moved nearby. Lillie was very excited — and I was surprised. It would be a year’s commitment, I told her, but she agreed. We started the lessons three weeks ago.

Because they are beginners, I’ve been sitting in on the girls’ lessons and helping them as they practice. The first week of practice went well. When we began the second week of practice, though, Lillie began complaining the chin rest was uncomfortable. She spent much of the practice time fussing about it, but when we went for the next lesson, she didn’t mention it to my sister-in-law at all.

This week of practice has brought out more of Lillie’s woes: the chin rest was still uncomfortable, her fingers couldn’t reach the right strings, she was tired of standing, and on and on. I finally asked her why she didn’t tell her aunt about all these problems; after all, her aunt was the one who would know what to do about them. “It never happens at her house,” Lillie told me.

Exasperated, I finally laid down the law. “No more grumbling in this house,” I told her. “If you have a problem with your violin, you can’t tell me anymore. You have to tell your aunt.” Suddenly, the complaining stopped.

I know Lillie wants to please her aunt; after all, she’s not just a music teacher Lillie sees once a week, but she’s the aunt who lives close by and has a pool in her backyard and invites us over for cookouts and looks through Lillie’s whole collection of silly bands. I’m sure that this time, Lillie will learn a lot more than music notes. 🙂

Photo by earl53

Teaching Reading

I once read in The Well-Trained Mind by Jesse Wise and Susan Wise Bauer that “reading is easy.” Reading may be easy, but sometimes teaching a child to read can be difficult.

My oldest son was an early reader, starting off by reading simple words when he was just three years old. After a while, however, he reached a plateau; he could read three- and four-letter words, but he didn’t seem to be able to move on from there. We spent a few months practicing those words by reviewing them and playing games. Then, all of a sudden, he could read almost anything. I never taught him about the long vowel sounds or the silent “e”. He just read them on his own. I wondered, then, if that was how children learn to read.

I found out the answer with my second child. When I followed a similar course with her, the results weren’t the same. She didn’t pick up on it right away; instead, we worked through some phonics books, slow and steady, learning the rules as she learned to read. It took a little longer, but eventually, she got it. Today reading is one of her favorite subjects.

When it was time for my third child to start reading, I decided to try the same phonics workbooks, and for a while, they were helpful. But my third child is my most playful one and the one most resistant to learning. Despite the whining and complaining, we pressed on, though at an even slower pace than before. After trying several different reading programs, I put them all aside and decided to delve right into traditional books. Finally, she really was reading.

My youngest is entering the first grade this year, and he’s not yet a reader. While he’s good with numbers and understanding math concepts, he forgets letter sounds from one day to the next. So lately I’ve been gathering different reading programs together. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll try them out to see which is the best fit. Perhaps it will be an established curriculum, or perhaps, as with my oldest, we won’t use any curriculum at all.

While teaching reading isn’t always easy, homeschooling has helped us as it allows for the differences in learning styles — and in the children themselves.

Photo by Mary Vogt