From my observation, homeschooling parents seem to fall into three categories as it relates to the homeschool conference …
1. There’s the “I wouldn’t miss it for the world” crowd,
2. The “I already have my curriculum and don’t really need to go” folks, and
3. Then there’s the “I’d like to go someday, but probably not this year” group.
The majority of those who attend an annual homeschool conference tend to be “die hard” fans who would be very disappointed if circumstance caused them to miss even one year—even if they’ve been homeschooling a long time and don’t need a lot of resources or workshops to attend.
So, what’s all the excitement about anyway? Why do homeschooling families around the country put such a high value on attending their state’s conference year after year?
My husband James and I have two daughters whom we homeschooled through high school. Our first exposure to a state homeschool conference was when our girls were very young and we were living in Minnesota. James would stay home with the girls while I went off with a friend or two to explore the exhibit hall and enjoy a couple of days with the greater homeschool community.
In those early years, it never occurred to me to attend workshops—I was having too much fun comparing resources and shopping for materials to bring home to share with our daughters. As the years passed, I started attending some workshops as well. I was pleasantly surprised at how much information I got, and how inspired and encouraged I felt after sitting through various sessions.
One of the first things we did when we moved to Arizona was to join the state homeschool organization and find out about their conference. It was a little frightening that first year to drive downtown by myself in a new city and attend my first conference here without knowing anyone. However, because I had experienced the thrill of attending homeschool conferences back in Minnesota, I knew it was worth pushing through the nervousness about a new location and new people.
I knew, without a doubt, that I would find the same energy and excitement, the same opportunity to sit under excellent teaching, and a place to browse and shop for new things to add to our bookshelves and our plans for the coming school year. I was not disappointed!
Haven’t Decided If You Should Attend?
So, what if you’re one of those people who fall into the second category I mentioned at the top of this article? The “I already have my curriculum and don’t really need to go” folks.
As a long-time homeschool mom myself who reads a lot of books and articles, has attended dozens of workshops, and listens to many workshop recordings, I can tell you that the need to come and be refreshed, re-energized, and refocused for the year ahead never diminished. As long as you’re educating your children at home, there is always a benefit to this kind of experience.
For those in the third category, you may feel that the investment of time and money is too great at this time, but you’ve heard great things about the conference and hope to attend one day. It may be a wise decision to forego attending the conference this year, depending upon your financial situation. We serve an awesome God and He is well able to provide the encouragement you need through other avenues beyond the homeschool conference.
I would certainly never say that the homeschool conference is the only way to get refreshed, re-energized, and refocused for the coming school year. But, it is a unique, amazing experience—the only gathering of its kind and size in most states. I would encourage you to consider attending if you are able. Once you go, you’ll see first-hand what all of the excitement is about.
In this season of our lives having graduated both of our children, attending the homeschool conference for my family has changed. Now our focus is on equipping and encouraging our fellow homeschoolers. But I can tell you that the thrill is still there and I am one of those “die hard” fans who wouldn’t miss the homeschool conference for anything!