Gary and Jan have been workshop presenters and conferences speakers since 2003. They have been keynote speakers in North Dakota and Alaska, and featured speakers in Springfield, MO, Indianapolis, Portland, OR, Kansas City, and Michigan. They have presented workshops at numerous conferences including the GHC conventions, MACHE in Minnesota, CHEC in Colorado, CHEA in California, NCHE in North Carolina, INCH in Michigan, THSC in Texas, and OCHEC in Oklahoma. (You try keeping all those initialisms straight!)
Gary and Jan began their homeschooling adventure in 1982. Though not old enough to be pioneers, they were in that first group of settlers who followed the faint trails that later developed into the super highways of modern homeschooling. Their three children, homeschooled through high school, experienced the challenges life on the educational frontier presented.
Amazingly enough they each became responsible, intelligent, sociable, well-read adults who still love to learn. Gary and Jan currently have four rambunctious grandsons and two darling granddaughters. (Maybe now that Jan has female grandchildren she'll be called something other than "Where's Grandpa?")
After their children were on their own, the Blooms began their exhibitor/speaker life, believing that what was learned in their years of homeschooling and living could be used to help other parents homeschool differently, better, with more joy, and maybe even less pain! Jan's books and advice on what to read have helped countless parents who believed good reading was important but didn't know where to begin. Gary gets to take the credit for the many dads who now incorporate a family reading time into their day. Both Gary and Jan love being used by God to heal, protect, challenge, and build up homeschooling families coast to coast.
When Jan and Gary decided to home school in 1982, Gary worked long hours at two jobs so Jan could stay home to teach their three children. He worked for the Billy Graham Association 12 years before moving to rural Minnesota for a four-year back-to-the-land "adventure" and employment in the grocery industry. In 2001 he and Jan began traveling to homeschool conferences with their ever-expanding inventory of great vintage and out-of-print books.
Gary received his B.S. degree in Psychology from Northwestern College in St Paul, MN twenty-five years after starting community college. He has a special concern for homeschooling dads and their challenges and struggles. He loves to read, especially true-life adventures about explorers, inventors, and people who triumph in life-threatening situations. His favorite part of school was lunch and recess.
HOW TO REALLY LOVE YOUR HOMESCHOOLING WIFE or, What NOT to Say at the End of the Day! (Alternate title: HOW TO REALLY IRRITATE YOUR HOMESCHOOLING WIFE)
Speaking from 45 years of husbandly experience, Gary offers cautions, correction, and consolation for husbands with homeschooling wives. His useful advice will help husbands understand their wives better and enable them to help their wives find joy and affirmation in the day-to-day challenges of homeschooling, parenting, and partnering.
GATHER 'ROUND, CHILDREN: Read Alouds for Dads and Kids
Supper has been eaten, the dishes are washed, pajamas are on, and the BEST time of the day is here–story time! Join Gary, who read to his children faithfully for years, as he explores how a father can build a special relationship with his children through time spent reading aloud together. Guidelines and suggestions will be offered that will get even a non-reader dad off to a great start.
THE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO BUILDING BOOKCASES- A How-to Workshop
With only a few power tools and some lumber you can get those books out of boxes and onto shelves–shelves that you will be able to put together quickly and easily after attending this workshop for moms and dads. Gary, who has built dozens of these bookcases, will demonstrate step by step how to build a functional, practical, inexpensive, and good-looking bookcase.
THE RETURN OF MR. INCREDIBLE: Becoming Men of Purpose and Passion
Dads, when was the last time you felt like Mr. Incredible BEFORE he was squelched by a society that prohibited masculinity? When was the last time you climbed a mountain, went sky diving, or experienced God's power in prayer? Join Gary, an only son with five sisters, left fatherless at age 14, as he explores the Bible's teaching on being a man. Discover how masculinity is not something to be ignored or ashamed of, but a tool to be kept sharp or a weapon kept ready to be used in the battles of life. The same passion that men have for challenges and battles is only a dim reflection of the passion for God that grows out of being a true man. KOWABUNGA!
DADS AND LADS: Building Lasting Bonds
Homeschooling is not just a mom thing - dads are a vital component in developing sons who love life and honor God and their families. Join Gary, a veteran homeschool dad, as he explores ideas, activities, and strategies for the dad who wants to build lasting relationships with his sons that build family unity and provide the framework for godly manhood.
Jan received her B.S. degree (with a major in Physics and minor in Math) from the University of Minnesota College of Education. She taught briefly in a public school before having children. Jan and Gary began homeschooling their three children in 1982 after being introduced to the idea at a L'Abri seminar and convinced of its benefits a month later after an interview of Dr. Raymond Moore by James Dobson. Using the "living books" approach of Charlotte Mason along with the real life experiences encouraged by Raymond Moore three interesting, well-read children were educated into college. (Though college was not in the educational plans!)
Jan developed a vintage bookselling business based on the knowledge she gained investigating and identifying the best books for capturing the hearts and minds of children. This led to writing a book about these great authors and series, Who Should We Then Read? Jan's second book, What Should We Then Know?, encourages families to develop a quality home library. (This is currently out of print.) Volume 2 of Who Should We Then Read? with 157 different authors, is also now available. She has been a contributing author to Homeschooling Today, The Old Schoolhouse, and Home Educating Family magazines.
Jan's favorite reading is fiction, with mysteries at the top of the list. She reads hundreds of children's books every year in order to choose the ones that are good, true, uplifting, and even, sometimes, just plain fun!
Jan's favoite school memory is writing the schedule on the chalkboard in 5th grade.
SAILING ON LIVING LIGHT: Voyaging with Great Books
Adventure, excitement, understanding, and delight - welcome to the world of living books, where the fresh breezes of new worlds stir imaginations! Beyond the dull, dry textbooks await REAL books that add life, depth, breadth, and excitement to learning.
Discover how to travel through subjects with books that are interesting, informative, well-written, and enjoyable; books that become guides and maps as we journey through life. Jan, a veteran homeschooler and author, will navigate through both nonfiction and fiction, explaining how each fulfills educational, emotional, and spiritual objectives.
KEEPERS OF THE BOOKS: The Vital Importance of a Home Library
Throughout history, reading and owning books has been associated with culture, learning, and wisdom. In modern times, books have yielded to electronic information systems. Jan, a vintage bookseller, believes that the older books, written true to a Christian worldview and absent many modern biases, need to be rescued from destruction, read by the students of today, and kept safe for future generations. Jan gives guidelines on choosing which books to include in a home library, which books to borrow from a public library, and which books to send to the trash. Practical suggestions on book repair, deodorizing, and organizing will also be discussed.
TALLY HO!: Hunting for the Great Books
A show-and-tell to familiarize you with the appearance and importance of specific books, series, and authors that are worth hunting for to include in your home library. Don't overlook treasures! Jan Bloom, an experienced book hound, will equip you to be a super shopper at library sales, thrift stores, bookstores, and on the Internet.
YEE HAW! Books for Boys
Most boys love reading books filled with adventure, discovery, unusual facts, and heroic, courageous behavior, but their moms, the primary book finders, don't know which books fulfill these ideals. Jan Bloom, vintage book dealer and mother of a male reader, searched for great books that appealed to boys and were well-written with positive role models and a healthy worldview. Jan will give suggestions of authors for all ages of boys, from those early "reading is too hard" days to the "I hardly have time to read anymore" years.
BEFORE ROMANCE, BEYOND ROMANCE: Books for Girls
Romance novels sell. Even Christian publishers produce hundreds of new romance titles every year. What exactly is a romance novel? Are they all bad? What else is there to read? What should be read and when should it be read? Join Jan, an avid reader, as she walks through the different age and interest levels of girls in order to suggest quality reading that teaches important life lessons and truly prepares young women for whatever God has planned for them.
THE FOUNDATIONAL FIVE: Bible Stories, Fairy Tales, Mother Goose, Aesop's Fables, and Mythology
David and his five smooth stones, Cinderella and her glass slipper, Mary and her lamb, the tortoise and the hare, and dynamite are only a few examples of how these five collections of tales have influenced our literature, our language, and our lives. Learning the prime stories gathered in these sources equips your students to enjoy a lifetime of reading and getting the most out of the allusions, metaphors, and subtle remarks mined from the great classics.
HELP! I'M FAILING! Hope for the Faint of Heart
Jan, a veteran homeschooler, uncovers and discusses many of the misconceptions, unrealistic expectations, and problems that make homeschooling difficult. Her message addresses prevention and positive steps for the new homeschooling mom and hope, help, and healing for the veteran homeschooler.
CRADLE TO GRADE: Preparing Your Children to Love Reading
Booklovers become worldchangers, but they are grown, not born. Jan, a booklover and veteran homeschooler, will give advice to help parents of young children develop strategies and lifestyles that will "till the soil" and prepare a child's mind for the hard, but joyful, work of learning from books. Caution: Do not come if you are not ready to give up or considerably cut down on TV and computer time...
CREATING CAPACITY: Preparing Your Children to Love LIFE
Imagine winning a prize from your favorite store in which as much as you can carry out of the store is yours - you choose the container to fill. Would you choose a sandwich-sized bag? A copy paper box? A shopping cart? A U-Haul? Jan will discuss how to help our children develop the sturdiest and largest containers so that their prize winning trip through life is all it can be.
BUSINESS BY THE BOOKS: Encouraging Entrepreneurs
Business ideas, business suggestions, and business acumen can all be found in the pages of books. Jan will identify many of the best books that develop important and necessary business ideals for all ages. Books that have been written by wise, astute, intelligent business people as well as fun storybooks about young entrepreneurs will be featured, since both fiction and nonfiction reading can encourage, enlighten, and empower willing learners.