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 convention organizers explained the goals for their homeschool convention. What those leaders told me applies to every homeschool convention I attend. Convention organizers work to equip, encourage, and connect parents.
Attending a homeschool conference gives you opportunities to learn new ways to teach your child, to learn principles that will shape what and how you teach, and to explore new ideas. Conventions have dozens to hundreds of workshops, with experts sharing insights, passions, and useful information. Some workshops are designed specifically for new or potential homeschoolers. If you’re like most of us, you’ll find that 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. Especially while teaching a child with learning challenges, I appreciate seeing the font and page layout, which may be critical for my child’s success. 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 being physically in conferences with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of other homeschoolers is encouraging. Some days at home, we can be alone, and feel alone; the support group doesn’t meet for another week—perhaps we couldn’t go last time 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.
Ready for some encouragement?
At a convention, you can connect with other parents. If you walk into a workshop—for example, 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 supplies 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 convention lets you think about homeschooling differently. You focus on the broader view. Why am I homeschooling? What should I change?
Conventions help me remember why I love homeschooling. It wasn’t just that I enjoyed a 24–48 hour break from the routine, though that was fun. It wasn’t just finding a cool educational toy, a fun science kit, or a better math curriculum, that made going to a convention 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.
Get some enrichment this year!