By Kathy Kuhl
Why should you go to a homeschool convention? What makes taking the time and money worthwhile? Some of you have children whose challenges make it difficult for you to get away anytime. Why spend precious free time at a convention?
Recently two board members of one state organization explained the goals for their state homeschool convention. What Debbie and Spencer Mason told me about Thrive!, the homeschool conference run by North Carolinians for Home Education applies to every conference I know. They work to equip, encourage, and connect parents.
Equipping parents to teach their children
Attending a homeschool conference gives you opportunities to learn new ways to teach your child, to learn principles, to explore new ideas. These events have dozens to hundreds of workshops, with experts sharing information. Some workshops are designed specifically for new or potential homeschoolers. If you’re like most of us, you’ll find listening to engaging speakers for a day is a fun way to learn.
While shopping online is convenient, I love to get my hands on books, and examine them in person. Seeing the layout, font size, and other features helps me choose what I like. Often people working in the vendor hall are fellow homeschoolers who have written or used the books and products they are selling.
Helping parents keep going is the other goal we speakers have in coming to conferences. Speakers are usually veteran homeschoolers who have become expert in one area or another, and want to encourage you. We get it—we’ve been there. We know homeschooling isn’t always easy.
I also find physically being in conferences with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of other homeschoolers is encouraging. Some days at home, we can feel alone. Support group doesn’t meet for another week, or perhaps we couldn’t go because we had a sick child. But we are part of a movement. We homeschool for many reasons, but we all care about our children’s education and want to customize it and strengthen our families.
Connecting with other homeschoolers
At a convention, you can connect with other parents. If you walk into a workshop, say my session on helping distractible students succeed, you know you have things in common with the other parents in the room. In the vendor hall, you can find other parents who use that curriculum you’re thinking of trying, or parents who, like you, have a child who’s crazy about robotics, or is hovering around the nature study or art materials. One special treat for me is seeing parents who homeschool struggling learners meet each other at my booth. One year it was two moms who both had adopted children with fetal alcohol syndrome. Another time it was a woman needing a particular kind of therapist for her child, when such a specialist had just come to my booth. This keeps happening and I love it.
There’s a fourth advantage.
Finding a fresh perspective
Getting away for a weekend convention, or even just a one-day conference, lets you think about homeschooling differently. You focus on the broader view: why am I doing this? What should I change? Conventions help me remember why I love homeschooling. It wasn’t just that 24-48 hour break from the routine, though that was fun. It wasn’t just finding the cool educational toy, the fun science kit, or a better math curriculum, that made it a pleasure, though I enjoyed all that. Pulling back from my daily work and focusing on my learning enriched my homeschooling.
Going to a convention may sound unnecessary, or too difficult to arrange.
“I’ll get by without it,” you may think. But the rewards can surprise you. You don’t really need vacations or flowers, either. But they enrich your life.
This week you have two excellent opportunities to take a first step toward attending a convention this year. Buy tickets now, and you’ll push yourself to go. You’ll also save, because prices go up as the dates near:
- Buy a ticket for any of the Great Homeschool Conventions before the prices go up January 10th. I’ve been privileged to speak at these conventions:
- Greenville, SouthCarolina, March 10-12
- Fort Worth, Texas, March 17-19
- Cincinnati, Ohio, March 31-April 2
- Ontario, California, June 16-18
This year I’ll be speaking in Fort Worth, Cincinnati, and Ontario. Clicking any of the GHC links on this website will also support LearnDifferently. Thank you.
2. January 11 ticket sales open for members of Home Educators Association of Virginia, for their convention in Richmond, held on June 9-11. Tickets are available for everyone else beginning January 14. I’m honored to be speaking at HEAV again.
These are five great conventions. There may be others near you. What’s keeping you from attending a convention?
I always come back from writing conventions with new ideas and a fresh perspective. It sounds like home school conventions are much the same. Thanks for adding this post to DifferentDream.com’s Tuesday special needs link up.
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