How to Retain What You’ve Learned from a Homeschool Conference

You’ve just left the homeschool conference you’ve been waiting to go to for months. You feel invigorated, revived, and ready to tackle the next year. Not you? Maybe you feel overwhelmed, washed up, and consumed by information instead. Or maybe you fall somewhere in between these two places.

  
A successful homeschool year could be measured in different ways. 

  • Did you check off all the items on your list
  • Did you maintain a healthy and close relationship with your children
  • Did your children master a new subject
  • Show fruits of the Spirit, reach new heights in maturity or develop their ethical compass
  • Learn how to learn better, thus achieving a new level of independence
  • Show more responsibility and self-awareness
  • Make or deepen meaningful relationships

Your useful retention of the information you gathered at this year’s expo has to do with how you are able to apply the new things you learned. Here are some things I’ve learned to do after a conference.

  1. Give yourself a brain break. Do unrelated things for a period of time after the conference, but don’t let so much time pass that the information becomes hard to recall.
  2. After you’ve enjoyed a brain break, review your notes from the conference. If your notes are fragmented or unclear, call a friend, review the speaker’s blog, or even make a call or send an email to the related session’s presenter or author.
  3. View the information the same way you view food at a buffet. Measure the information against your family’s values and homeschool vision statement. Remember, you are homeschooling with the end in mind. Add the information that aligns on your plate, and scrape off what doesn’t. 
  4. Pull out your planning system from last year and assess what didn’t get done. Take an honest look at why it didn’t get done. Look at the impact your methods last year had on your family’s dynamics, plus each child’s ability to learn, interest levels and excitability, frustrations, retention, and their overall well-being. Note things you felt you could have done better, and note the unavoidable situations you handled. Ask your husband for his insight too, and see if he has any wishes for this year too. Pray. Celebrate your achievements and note what things you want to repeat or even deserve more time.
  5. Develop your learning targets for this year, adding any relevant notes from the conference. I accomplish this by compiling and cross referencing scope and sequence from some of the big brand homeschool curriculum publishers, and compare this to the state’s requirements as well.
  6. Reconsider your homeschool vision statement for this year and see if anything needs to change or evolve, all things considered.
  7. Write down specific learning goals for each subject your children are tackling. I suggest you have stretch, mid-line goals, and an unnegotiable base goal for each subject.
  8. Now, start noting items you want to add to your plan this year, based on the conference ideas that survived your review session. Items you want to try may be related to: scheduling, methodology, materials, resources, curriculum, or more. My guess is you’ll be tempted to add more to your week, as opposed to removing something old. In light of the temptation to add, weigh the new thing against the old, and realize where the sacrifice of time and energy should be made.
  9. Figure out your calendar for the upcoming year. Then figure out your monthly schedule for each topic, and your weekly schedule. Buffer in quarterly and monthly assessments. I call this time autopsies and analysis, a saving grace, and a time for you to do midstream corrections.
  10. Modify and update how you are assessing and measuring your children’s progress in a given subject, along with evaluations of yourself and any other teachers from whom your children learn, so you have a way to know if the new additions are helping or hindering the process. 

Homeschooling is like being a CEO. It’s complicated, isn’t it? You have to have vision, and know how to inspire your company to follow. You have to be sensitive to the health of your organization, and insist and nurture a particular culture within your company, despite if you’re fighting to survive during a recession or thriving and living off the fat of the hog. You have to know what your team needs to achieve a certain outcome, have a strategy to get there, and the tactics to make it easier as you travel the bumpy terrain. Welcome to (Insert last name) Co. Haha!

I strongly suggest you form friendships with other homeschool moms who can act as mentors and peers, and that you be open in sharing ideas, thoughts and opinions, and especially prayers together. Of course, do this, in light of consistent discussion with your husband as well. Don’t allow yourself to operate in a silo.

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