Monday, April 17, 2006

Why attend a homeschool conference?

This weekend I signed my husband and I up to attend our state's homeschool conference hosted by CHEC. We have attended numerous times and each time we have been blessed, motivated and encouraged in many ways. Personally I think that whether you are a veteran or are new to homeschooling, attending your state's conference this summer will be time well spent.

One of the things that I love about the conference is the curriculum exhibit hall. Being able to actually see what you are purchasing, as opposed to reading about it in a catalog, is a great way to decide if a particular book or curriculum is right for your child. Often the creator of the curriculum is on site to answer questions about their product and to give hints on using it effectively. One caution about curriculum exhibit halls: A few years ago my hubby and I decided to "divide and conquer" the hall and we decided to split up our list of things to buy and he took one side of the hall and I took the other. When it was all said and done we tallied up our purchases and found that we had spend $500 over our budget! Since then we have always shopped together for our curriculum and we tend to stay much closer to our budget amount.

Another benefit is the motivation you feel from seeing so many homeschooling parents gathered in one place. Occasionally homeschoolers can feel all alone in their endeavors to educate and raise their children, but at a conference you see that you are on path with many other parents who are choosing to traverse a road less traveled. Believe me when I say that this has been encouraging each and every year!

The number one reason to attend a conference are the speakers who come to build up and encourage those who choose to home educate their children. Many speakers come from all over the country to speak on a variety of topics geared to the homeschooling lifestyle. Unschooling, teaching the trivium, field trips, the father's role in home education, and homeschooling through high school, are topics that you are likely to find offered. Generally you will find at least a few seminars that will meet your particular needs.

Attending with a friend can make for a fun and relaxing weekend. However, if your husband is willing to go, he may find himself encouraged to play a bigger role in your homeschoool and your children's lives after attending a couple of seminars. The weekend can also be a wonderful time for the two of you to set some goals and to renew your vision for your family.

I don't think you can go wrong by attending your state's homeschool conference. My husband and I drive 2 hours to attend ours and honestly, I would drive at least twice that time because I know that the benefits reaped from attending are worth it! To see if you state has a convention close to your home, try contacting your state's homeschool organization. If you are unable to locate a convention near you, try asking around. Another homeschooler may know of a smaller, less publicized conference. Whether the conference is big or small, you will be blessed, motivated and encouraged because you made the effort to go!