Highlights from the Homeschoolers of Wyoming 2015 Convention

This year’s Homeschoolers of Wyoming Convention was held in Powell, WY. The key note speakers were Mr Andrew Pudewa from Institute for Excellence in Writing and Attorney Mr David Gibbs, President for The National Center for Life & Liberty. The NCLL features a specific branch of it’s organization called Center for Homeschool Liberty.

Mr Gibbs & the National Center for Life & Liberty was the ONLY national organization to assist and support House Bill 221 Education – Parental Rights during the 2015 Legislative session in Wyoming. HB221 was a bill that would strengthen & preserve your parental rights in the education for those who home educate their children as well as additional protections for parents with children in public school.

According to the attorney who offered advice and support on HB221 Education – Parental rights, it had the potential to be some of the strongest homeschool legislation in the country. We [WFE] had the pleasure to be able to personally thank Mr Gibb’s for the assistance that his organization gave us. We also sincerely appreciated him mentioning the NCLL’s involvement & support of HB221 in one of his talks on the future of homeschooling.

NCLL logo

The National Center for Life and Liberty have a consistent track record assisting families in Wyoming. So we encourage you to consider a membership to the NCLL’s Homeschool Liberty organization to further help protect your rights in education and liberty not only in state of Wyoming but across the Nation.

andrew_pudewaSeveral talks were planned through out the day, the first presentation I had the pleasure of attending was presented by Mr Andrew Pudewa who is the Founder & Director for Institute for Excellence in Writing. The presentation was entitled “Nurturing Competent Communications”.

To first give a little background on Mr. Pudewa, he is a talented Violin Instructor with an extensive background in the Suzuki method, a method he learned during his studies in Japan in the 1980’s. Some of IEW’s core products were created and adapted from this very method . The Suzuki method has proven to be a very effective way in teaching the skills of English, Reading & Writing to our children.

He not only offered tips for effectively teaching your children the use of the English language, he also talked in depth on the past, present and future of homeschooling and how to be prepared as homeschool families.

Mr Pudewa explained that “Standards are the new God of education and the public schools are the temples of these standards”. These standards have removed teaching the foundational “basics” and replaced them with the “express yourself” mentality created in the 90’s that eventually led to the “No Child Left Behind” agenda and now to present day “Common Core Standards”.

photo credit: Chris Jeub, www.trainingmindsministry.org & IEW School Division Education Consultant

Photo credit: Chris Jeub, www.trainingmindsministry.org & IEW School Division Education Consultant

In regards to Nurturing Competent Communicators, Mr Pudewa offered some great tips and insight. He explained in depth how children adapt their language according to who they are with and why age segregation we so often see in a public school setting can be a downfall for children learning the mechanics of the English language. He also touched on the importance of reading aloud on a regular basis to your children as it makes connections in the brain to help develop and understand English Syntax.

Most of us are lead to believe that once a child has the ability to read on their own, it is a good time to push them more towards independent reading and read less to them aloud. Mr Pudewa explained as a child begins to read, it’s even more of a crucial time to continue reading aloud to them as it further supports their continued development of English Syntax. This development of English Syntax will also translate in to good writing skills for the future.

He even suggested reading a few grade levels ahead to our children, to help encourage understanding the complexity & mechanics of Grammar. So rather than limiting the time you read aloud to your children who are good readers, consider continuing to read aloud to them and make it a family activity for all ages and stages of learning. This was actually very much of an educational norm at one point in time. Mr Pudewa also referred to books written from the 1850’s to the 1930’s as the “Golden Age of Literature”, as that time period of literature was predominantly made to be read to the entire family.

I asked him personally after his presentation for some tips specifically for myself and other families that happen to be educating special needs children. He was very knowledgeable about the challenges that many children with Autism and other developmental disabilities face. He recommended encouraging special needs children to be involved in music, as it has be known to spark cognitive development in the brain and enhance learning in language and other areas of study. Learning cursive can also enhance cognitive development and might be something to consider also.

He suggested reading aloud to your special needs child and periodically stopping more often to ask them to describe what was just read to them to help encourage comprehension & conversational skills. It’s ok if they struggle to remember concepts, reminding them of those concepts and remembering to not compare them to a “grade level” but rather working on building their skills instead. Break things up into smaller lessons and move slower according to a pace they are comfortable with. He also recommended Linguistic Development through Poetry, you can save a little money by just buying the book alone also if you prefer. IEW carries many products that are special needs friendly.

Photo credit: Chris Jeub, www.trainingmindsministry.org & IEW School Division Education Consultant

Photo credit: Chris Jeub, www.trainingmindsministry.org & IEW School Division Education Consultant

Some of the other topics I attended that Mr Pudewa presented were “Conquering a Corrupt Culture” & “Classical Approach in a Modern World”

When discussing the corruption of our culture Mr. Pudewa stated “The World is trying to ooze into the minds of our families and our children; and when you are on the defense for so long it can be easy to burn out. We fight better when we fight together.”

He also stated “Remember on the bad days that you homeschooling parents are doing the single most important thing to positively affect change in our society as a whole we have the power to change the paradigm if we take it.” He also strongly advocated for more parents to consider homeschooling. “We can not give up our vigilance until the end arrives!”

david-gibbs I also attended “Understanding the Constitution” & “The Future of Homeschooling” presented by Mr. David Gibbs.

A key concept that Mr. Gibbs wanted to share in opening his presentations was…

“When you don’t protect innocent life, you don’t have real freedom” -David Gibbs

He emphasized the importance of taking advantage of the opportunity to be involved on a local & state level in our community and politics. He also shared the importance of holding our elected officials accountable. As homeschoolers if we chose to remain “underground” we lose our voice!

Mr Gibbs is a strong proponent for Parental rights, but explained from a legal perspective the Parental Rights amendment concerned him (not to be confused by legislation that protects parental rights & homeschoolers, he’s specifically talking about “The Parental Rights Amendment”) because when you have to go to the government to “ask permission” for a right that is already ours to begin with it can be a slippery slope, it opens up the door to interpretation that would be best left alone. He also realized that in today’s day in age we have had to carefully legislate protections as our freedom to Homeschool in addition to our Constitutional Freedoms are under attack.

He explained the concept of “Gender Rights” that is presently law in California and a handful of other states. So for example if you are a in Kindergarten thru 12th grade, as a child you have the right to be the gender you feel you are that day and if you change your mind the next day you have the right to identify as the gender you were born with the next day. The problem with this concept is girls and boys that would like to feel safe and secure in the locker rook or restroom now have to fear situations from those who switch genders for a day in order to harm and hurt others. It also discriminates on the religious affiliations of those who are modest in their views of gender. Being partial to one group of individuals by sacrificing the rights of others.

Unfortunately “Gender rights” are webbed into Common Core. Mr Gibbs also further elaborated on his views of Common Core; he viewed it as a Nationalized Curriculum that has never even been tested. From an Academic standpoint there is uncertainty it even works, yet many states have blindly adopted it. Radical ideologies and mandatory sex ed for all ages and grade levels, which violates the freedom of religion and speech our Constitution was meant to protect for all faiths.

He also offered tips and legal advice to protect ourselves as homeschoolers:

  • Know the law & follow it
  • Homeschool with excellence, in other words educate our children to the best our best ability, while also understanding we aren’t perfect.
  • Keep written records, at the very least log the days you do school in your home. Summarizing the days can be helpful, but when litigating cases it’s extremely helpful to present the amount of days your child has done school work because in his experience a judge will often request this form of documentation due to compulsory education laws.
  • As your child gets older, make transcripts for them if your curriculum doesn’t already do so for you, and store those records somewhere safe
  • There will always be people who don’t approve of your decision to homeschool, be guarded in the information you relinquish, in other words don’t hand people a “lawsuit” in their laps.
  • Be selective in your healthcare providers and avoid those who object to your health care decisions or who ask about topics that don’t relate to the medical services you are paying for; such as firearms in the home, your educational decisions, ect. A physician in attendance of the convention even spoke up and relayed to the crowd, that if medical codes regarding guns in the home & vaccination choices or objections are not sent in to your insurance with an answer he as a medical provider would not be paid. Depending on your answer (Yes, No, Refused to answer) codes are sent in and data-based according to the Obamacare mandates we now face. Mr Gibbs agreed this was an important issue we needed to be very mindful of.

Mr Gibbs ended his talks with reaffirming there will be a challenge and attack on our Parental Rights as it is already underway. “Does the government need to regulate? or let us regulate ourselves…” will be the question. Those of us who value our educational freedom and especially those of us that homeschool need to unify and not stick our heads in the sand and forget others around us. Support and hold one another accountable and help prevent a catastrophe, as it also helps prevent a legal catastrophe in our own family’s.

Wyoming Freedom in Education has been on the ground fighting for your educational parental rights, it is the generous donations from people like you that ensure that WFE can be as effective as possible. Please consider donating today.  You can donate online here or mail a donation to :

Wyoming Freedom in Education * P.O. Box 52026 * Casper, WY  82605

This summarizes a portion of the talks that occurred at the HOW Convention. For those that were not able to attend I hope this encourages you and gives you information that is helpful as well as explain how vital it is for us to unite in protecting our freedom in education, because once that freedom is lost there goes the rest of our freedoms.

Sadly some homeschool support groups and coops have discouraged unity by choosing to be exclusive, which we all have the right to do if we chose to. What is discouraging is unity was strongly emphasized by both keynote speakers, as our rights and educational freedoms are under attack.

I was saddened to hear the HOW contact for Park County make mention of a newer local homeschool coop in Powell on more than one occasion during the talk about Beginning your journey into homeschooling. I was even asked if I myself belonged to this coop on numerous occasions from a handful of individuals before and after this talk.  Those who attended this talk were not informed that you must first be invited, and then submit to a background check which to some well intentioned families with a clean track record and conscience feel is an invasion of privacy. In addition you must have a clergy member sign off on your regular attendance.

In today’s day and age, with the attack on our educational freedoms, our religious freedoms also under attack, many genuinely do not have a place of fellowship, yet share like minded beliefs. However the rifts are so deep that the sense of community is sometimes lacking. We all have the right to organize as we see fit, we all have the right to protect our children, but the point I hope is understood, the more rifts and division in homeschool community, the less united of a front we have in protecting our education.

It would be great to see communities across Wyoming offer places of support, as more and more parents are becoming disillusioned with Common Core and the quality of Public Education. Thankfully the are a handful of Coops and support groups to chose from, across the state and locally to help those in their homeschool journey.