Though I’ve homeschooled “forever” and was once hired to help at a vendor booth during a small regional event, I’d never actually attended a homeschool convention before joining Dr. Kathy at the Great Homeschool Convention (GHC) in Cincinnati at the beginning of April. One of my main purposes was to help at Kathy’s booth, but she graciously encouraged me to participate as a regular attendee as much as possible. So I wandered the exhibit hall, sat in on a number of seminars, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. And a few things really stood out to me in the process:
1. I learned something. Though I’ve never been so arrogant as to think I “know it all” in terms of homeschooling, I’d been able to settle in over the last couple of years with materials and routines that work well for my daughters and me. I’ve continued to read helpful articles and books and to adjust whenever necessary, but I didn’t go to Cincinnati in “crisis mode,” feeling that I needed help with any particular aspects of homeschooling. Thus, when I had opportunities to attend seminars, I chose ones given by people with recognizable names, thinking I’d enjoy seeing the speakers in person more than anything else. But I came away with much more than that. In fact, I’ve actually chosen to make a couple of significant changes because of what I learned.
2. I was encouraged. The huge convention hall was packed with both vendors – more than 350 booths! – and shoppers. In fact, as many as 8,000 families attended the event, and I think I saw most of them! I’m blessed locally with a rather large and active homeschool association, but it’s still easy to feel isolated as one of “only” 200 families in a city of 100,000 people. So the convention experience – being with so many like-minded moms and dads and kids from obviously diverse backgrounds – added to my joy as a homeschool mom and strengthened my convictions to keep doing my best for my kids.
3. Kathy is good for homeschoolers. I attended two of Kathy’s seminars – and would have gone to all four if I could have. In fact, I tried to get into the others, but moms and dads were already packed into every seat, camped out on the floor, and literally spilling out the doors when I arrived. Of course, knowing Kathy and knowing the homeschool community, I realized years ago that Kathy’s wisdom would bless and be very well received by homeschoolers, but I was still amazed to see the reality of it right in front of my eyes. And I know she made significant impact because I talked with dozens of parents at the booth after every seminar.
Based on what I experienced, I have two recommendations for those of you who homeschool: First, schedule a visit to a convention – GHC, Teach Them Diligently, or a good state-level event – every few years. You’ll learn, be encouraged, and feel renewed. Second, find a way to enable your homeschooling friends to meet Kathy. Bring them to a big convention where she speaks or hire her to speak in your community – whatever it takes. You know Kathy and you know your local homeschooling community, so you know I’m right.