Saturday, March 16, 2013

Is It Important to Attend a Homeschool Convention/Conference

It is Homeschool Convention/Conference season.  Have you attended one yet?   Are you planning on attending one, or maybe more?

I fondly remember my very first time to attend a Homeschool Convention.  I had contacted a lady that I knew homeschooled her two boys to find out more about homeschooling, when my husband and I felt the Lord leading us to homeschool, though we didn't really know anything about it.  She was excited to help me. She invited me to her home and gave me lots of information, books to borrow and website addresses to check out.  Then she took me along to the big, annual Homeschool Convention that takes place not too far from us.  It lasts for two days, a Friday and Saturday, and by the end of the day, Friday, my brain was on overload.

The homeschool convention had speakers who gave seminars throughout both days and there was a seminar for every aspect of homeschooling:  beginners, those who had been homeschooling for a while, and those preparing for high school, even those thinking beyond high school, as well as  the different styles of homeschooling:  Charlotte Mason, Classical, Delight Directed, Eclectic, Traditional Textbook, Unit Studies, and Online Learning.  I'm not sure there was anything on Unschooling.  I still don't know a lot about that approach, but it's not for us anyway.

Then there was the vendor hall -- WOW!  I never dreamed there were so many different types of curriculum and so many resources available for homeschooling!  The room was HUGE and there were rows upon rows of tables with vendors selling their products.

That evening, after I returned home, my husband and I went out to dinner so that I could tell him about everything I had seen and learned at the homeschool convention, without interruptions.  I still don't know how I managed to finish my meal, because I talked the whole way through dinner, downloading all of the things I had seen and learned, and what I liked and thought might be a good fit for us.

Saturday, my husband and I went to the convention together, so that he could help me make the decisions on curriculum.

I have been going to that Homeschool Convention every year since then.  My husband has gone with me, except for two years, and he enjoys some of the speakers' seminars and exploring the vendor hall too.  Vendor Hall has new things every year, as well as the old stand-byes.

Our first year, we used Konos which is a Unit Study curriculum.  We really liked it, but I had difficulty getting enough out of it for our younger son, though they say it can be used for multiple grade levels.  I do think part of that, though, was that our younger son had a special need, we were not aware of at the time.  (That was taken care of with Vision Therapy a year or two later, Praise God).  Then we went Eclectic for about two years, and then we decided to use Sonlight Curriculum, which we used for three years.  It is Literature-Based and that works very well for us because we LOVE books!  However, I found that I just prefer the Eclectic approach because it's easier to find the things that work best for each child, and because there are so many great products out there that we want to be able to use a bunch of them!

However, back to the topic at hand, the first time we ordered Sonlight, my husband said to me, "Well, now we don't have to spend the money to go to the Homeschool Convention because you have to order Sonlight through the mail and it comes right to your door", because of the many books that come with each Core.  I responded with, "You're kidding, right?  I still NEED to go to Convention.  The seminars and the atmosphere of Convention help to motivate me and get me excited to do this for another year."

So, if you ask me, is it important to attend a homeschool Convention/Conference, I would answer with a resounding, "YES", but I do know one lady who homeschooled three kids from Kindergarten through High School without ever attending one.  I don't think I could do it.  I need that motivation and excitement.  Lately I've been thinking I'll still want to keep attending Homeschool Convention even after I graduate our last child.  Of course, that's ten years away.

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