LDS Homeschool Conference Notes

On Saturday, I went to the Latter-day Learning Conference at American Heritage School, and my cup is full. What a great day! I feel on fire with excitement.

The morning began with an inspiring keynote address by Nick Gentile. Here are some of my notes.
  • Doctrine and Covenants 29:34- All things are spiritual; God never gave us a law that was only temporal.
  • In the Doctrine and Covenants manual, it says that man makes the distinction between temporal and spiritual, not God.
  • Elder Wirthlin, at the October 2007 General Conference said that God sees us as the glorious beings we are capable of becoming.
  • Referenced the talk, An Education for Real Life, by President Henry B. Eyring.
  • Described the 4R-ing system to learning: Research, Reason, Relate, Record.
  • Make SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, time-bound.
For the first breakout sessions, I listened to Jane Mack and Nannette Wiggins, who spoke about how The Family School curriculum came to be. It has been a long and time-consuming process that is blessing the lives of many! They talked about "laying the Gospel as the foundation of every subject". It was an interesting class, but I didn't take many notes, I'm afraid.

During the second session, I heard from Lauri Updike, a teacher at American Heritage School. 
  • Peculiar people are His treasure.
  • Neil Flinders, author of Teach the Children: An Agency Approach to Education , said that true religion includes ALL the Lord has given us.
  • We should treat our kids as children of God. Assume the best of them. Have high expectations.
  • Use primary sources and prophetic quotes to find truth.
  • Study the meaning behind words. 1. Dictionary 2. Words of living Prophets 3. Scriptures 4. Reason out a personal definition relating it to your own life.
  • 4Rs help us self-govern.
  • We want Christ "written in the fleshy tables of our hearts".
After the second session, I went out to a delicious lunch with a couple friends. My friend, Liz, highly recommends the book, 10 critical keys for highly effective Mormon families.

After lunch, Ruel Haymond gave an incredible class, entitled Like it or Not, Likening is the Key.

  • The natural man in each of us wants to liken unto everyone except ourselves.
  • It's easy to read and think, "Those dumb Nephites. If they could only see!" We need to apply to our own lives instead.
  • We can overcome the natural man through hope in Christ.
  • Recommends the book, TO END ALL WARS
    by Ernest Gordon and the documentary, Miracle on the River Kwai.
Next, I heard Diann Jeppson speak about Family Devotionals.

  • Her family likes to "play missionary". Diann pretends to be an investigator and asks kids questions about the Church. They are supposed to incorporate an Article of Faith in their answer.
  • Possible Building Blocks of devotional include: prayer, song, memorizing scriptures, Our Heritage, Teaching the Topics of Themes (her personal favorite**), True to the Faith (older kids), scriptures, spelling, creative writing, inspiring quotes, locate a couple places on a map, recite family mission statement or a family cheer, Pledge of Allegiance, Monday Morning at the Movies (watch a conference talk), read a family history story, manners, etc.
  • Strategies: 1. Food is a great gatherer. 2. Give people something to do with their hands. (coloring, knitting, crochet, carving, fixing something...) 3. Be consistent, even when it has to be short. 4. Tell stories in your own words.
Lastly, I chose to listen to an experienced panel of homeschoolers.
1. To motivate your children:
  • Praise them.
  • Be sure your requirements are worthwhile.
  • Take a long-term view.
  • Set the stage with older kids.
  • Work and play WITH them.
  • Give stars or beans in a jar for every time they happily say, "Sure, Mom. I'd be glad to." Let them earn ice cream or field trips.
2. Favorite things about homeschooling:
  • Time spent together.
  • Great discussions because they learn to be good conversationalists.
  • Kids become your friends.
3. Take time for yourself. Even the Savior left the press of the multitude to go apart.

Those are my notes. I'm kind of a conference junkie. I love days like this, when I can go fill my cup to overflowing and come home refreshed and ready to stretch and grow.

Emily blogs at Homespun Light, where she talks about books, homeschool, books, religion, crafts, and books.

(I wrote this post for Latter-day Homeschooling. If you are an LDS homeschooler, you'll definitely want to check it out!)


  1. I wish I could have been there. Sounds very informative! Could you elaborate more on what Diann Jeppson meant by Teaching the Topics of Themes? Thanks for the notes!

  2. Rachel, It should read "Teaching the Topics and Themes", which is an LDS lesson manual that is now marketed for those with disabilities. Diann said that it ties in lessons, songs, and the illustrated scripture story books. She also said that the manual is sold on a CD-ROM now, but I spent some time looking for it on without success.

  3. Emily,
    Do you use "The Family School," curriculum? If so, I would love to hear how you like it. I have been reading all of the sample lessons. Some concerns I have are, that it feels a little to 'schoolish' in it's presentation. I don't know if that makes sense. It all seems like a lot of teacher prep. Do the Lessons feel natural? I would love to hear more about that, if you wouldn't mind emailing me? I would so appreciate it. I do love so much of what and how it teaches. Thanks!


  4. We have been using The Family School by Latter-day Learning since February, and I can honestly say that we love it. However, we don't always do it as directed.

    As you mentioned, it sometimes is a little schoolish for us. This is the first curriculum I've used outside of Math, because I mostly adhere to a Thomas Jefferson Education. Because of that, I can't compare it to other curriculum. Are you familiar with TJEd? In this homeschool philosophy, we are often encouraged as mothers to share what is 'ours', or in other words to share whatever we are excited about at the time. I am using The Family School as 'what is mine'.

    As I go through the lesson, I often leave out parts of it...things that require too much time/effort or assignments that I don't think my kids will enjoy. For example, during FS, my kids write every day, but I don't always have the write everything that the lesson recommends. Overall, though, we really enjoy the lessons. Sometimes I think they get a little schoolish with use of whiteboards and flashcards, etc...but again, I feel completely free to tailor it to my family. A friend of mine said that it felt too scripted. Again, you don't have to do it verbatim.

    On the other hand, having it all scripted makes it very easy to do on the fly. You asked if it takes a lot of prep time. Definitely not. The only prep time is gathering materials and printing handouts. I usually do it during breakfast, and we start school when everyone finishes eating. Prep time will be further minimized as soon as the Second Edition is released, because they will be including pre-printed handouts. Once in a while there is something that requires a little more effort. For example, filling a box with random items to categorize. If it feels like the effort to prepare a certain part isn't worth it, skip it!

    The lessons take about 90 minutes/day. We enjoy the schedule as they subject a week for three days and a fourth day of Literature/Art/Music. The only thing about the schedule that I don't follow pertains to read-alouds at the end of each lesson. The recommend doing a history read-aloud on history days, literature read-aloud on lit days, etc. If you don't finish a book during the three days of that subject, they recommend waiting until you come back to that subject a couple weeks later to continue that read-aloud. Does that make sense? We just keep reading whatever book we have started until we complete it, regardless of the subject for the day.

    At first, I felt like the lessons were a little too churchy and sometimes a bit of a stretch to tie to gospel principles. That may be because we started with History, which naturally begins with the Creation. Art also started with the Creation. We enjoyed it from the first day, but have liked it more and more as we've continued along.

    My kids ask to do it on days off. In fact, my daughter just wrote a letter to me about how much she likes Family School, saying she wishes we had started sooner.

    I love that the lessons can be used with all my children (9, 7, 4, 1). We all work together. At the end of each lesson, there are suggestions for older children and younger ones. I am learning along with them, as well, and am grateful for the Spirit that is teaching me through Family School.

    This is getting long, but feel free to ask any other questions that come up.


  5. I am so glad you posted this. As mentioned in my comment on LDL. I fell the same as you, the curriculum is getting better and better!

    Our kids are the same age!