There’s no question about it: you can have a happy, fully successful homeschool year without ever attending a homeschooling convention. You can provide your children with a solid education and be a positive, focused, contented homeschooling mom or dad, all without ever setting one foot into a homeschool convention.
So why am I so adamant in my recommendation that homeschoolers make the effort to attend one?
I can tell you straight up, it isn’t because I work for any of them. Nor do I work for any exhibitor or vendor you might find at a homeschooling convention. I can’t speak to how that could change in the future, but it should be understood I currently have no personal vested interest in anybody attending a homeschool convention.
But I know how my first visit to one impacted me and my homeschool, and how all my visits since continue to encourage and inspire me as a homeschooling mom, and I want other people to experience the same.
Now I’m fortunate enough to live within a few-hour’s drive of some amazing state and regional homeschool conventions, but I realize not all of you are so blessed. For some, attending a convention of any kind will require significant travel and a considerable investment of time and money, and that can be tough for a lot of families. But I still recommend making the plans and sacrifices necessary to do it, if at all possible. Some of our dear friends have even scrimped and saved to make it a part of their family vacation this year!
|My homeschool convention buddy, Amanda, and I last year at the Teach Them Diligently Convention in Nashville. The workshop choices are a little overwhelming.|
I could give you a list a mile long why I think you should take the time and spend the money to go to a convention this spring, but I’ll limit myself to these reasons:
1. It is so encouraging to see you’re not alone on your homeschooling journey.
I have friends who homeschool — several of them, in fact — and yet it is still so easy to begin feeling like I’m all alone, or at least that we’re all alone — an incredible minority in a world that so often views us as either superhuman or super-peculiar for our decision to homeschool our kids.
But when you walk into a homeschooling convention and see all these families — all those other moms and dads from all sorts of backgrounds who have made the same decision for their children, it is so incredibly uplifting. And I can’t tell you the times I’ve been blessed by a conversation with a mom sitting next to me in a workshop or standing beside me at a vendor table who I quickly learned had questions or struggles similar to my own.
2. You can come away with fresh ideas and much-needed inspiration.
I don’t care how long you’ve been homeschooling or how successful you’ve been in it, I don’t think any homeschooling mom or dad ever reaches the point they couldn’t stand to learn a thing or two from someone else. Sometimes people with other personalities and gifts and experiences can offer suggestions that can be a tremendous help in your homeschool. I’ve learned simple things, like helping my son focus by allowing him to stand up while he does his math, and much bigger things, like when and where to seek help for learning disabilities. And again and again I’ve heard messages that motivate me and strengthen my resolve to keep up what I’m doing and to do it better than before.
3. You can learn ways to strengthen your family.
I would think most of us could agree that our homeschools are only as strong as our families. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the number of sessions I’ve seen at homeschool conventions aimed at strengthening marriages, parent-child bonds, and even sibling relationships.
Maybe you’ve got it all figured out, but sometimes I need encouragement in these areas. I need advice for how to be a better wife and mom. When I improve in these areas, it will inherently affect our homeschool in a positive way.
4. You can receive spiritual encouragement.
I could write an entire post about the workshop my husband and I once attended about family devotions. Yes, it offered creative suggestions and ideas for family worship, but I also can’t begin to tell you how one of the speaker’s object lessons spoke to my husband and I and some of the circumstances we were dealing with at the time. We left there encouraged in so many ways! And that same sort of thing has happened over and over when I’ve visited homeschool conventions.
While there is a growing secular arm within the homeschooling movement, I think it’s still safe to say homeschoolers are overwhelmingly Christian and so homeschooling conventions are generally cram-packed with Bible-based teaching and Christian resources. But this is where I have to put in my plug for the Teach Them Diligently Convention because of its all-Christian focus. Last year was my first year to attend TTD in Nashville and I was thoroughly impressed. I’m glad for anyone who wishes to enjoy the blessings of homeschooling, Christian or no, but I do enjoy attending a convention where absolutely everything, from how to teach math to choosing the right curriculum, is addressed from a Christian perspective.
5. You have access to LOTS of curricula and other homeschooling resources, often at a discount.
I never can decide which excites me more — interesting workshop sessions or the exhibit hall! I’ll read websites and pour over reviews, but there is nothing like holding a curricula in my hand before making a judgement about its purchase. And I’ve stumbled across some incredible resources at homeschool conventions I would likely never have discovered any other way.
And while conventions don’t always offer the best prices on curricula, (this is where a smartphone comes in pretty handy for quick price checks before you buy,) you’ll often find some very good deals on new or used books and materials. I don’t normally make all my curriculum purchases at homeschool conventions, but I always take away notes and information to help me make my choices later.
|TTD Nashville is at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, not your average hotel, by any means…|