In my last post, I wrote about my first experience at a homeschool conference as a parent. As I mentioned there, I was never a big fan of these conferences as a child, but being a parent gives one a whole new perspective on things! Here is the second half of my list of the benefits I received from attending the conference.

3. It Gave Me New Tips and Ideas 

I may be a second-generation homeschooler, but that doesn’t mean the way I was taught is the only way, or that I know all the tricks of the trade. There are many practical tips out there on how to breathe new life into a certain subject, what to do with the toddler when you are teaching the older kids, how to balance the schooling with the housekeeping, etc.

I only went to a couple of these more practical sessions, and honestly many of the suggestions probably wouldn’t work well for our family. But I did come away with at least a few ideas that may be helpful for next year. Homeschooling can be done in a variety of ways – that’s one of its strong points! – so getting exposure to different tips and methods can help you develop a homeschool system that works well for your unique family.

4. It Helped Me with Curriculum Choices

It’s amazing how much more curricula for homeschoolers has become available since I was in school! On the one hand, the variety is great; on the other hand, it can be overwhelming! It is nice, then, to be able to walk from one vendor to another and actually hold the books in your hands and see what they have to offer (looking online is convenient for ordering, but extremely tedious for browsing!). It’s a good place for finding out what’s new in the curriculum world, too! I was alerted to a new curriculum for literature that I’d never seen before, but it fit with what I wanted to teach pretty much exactly. I’m excited to try with my kids!

5. It Helped Re-Spark My Own Interests

On that same note…Literature was my major in college and has always been a major interest of mine. I started out homeschooling with the “Five in a Row” series, which was a very good fit for me. But after a few years, my girls were getting a little older, and I began to feel the need for something a little more structured.

I began a stronger focus on math and writing / grammar workbooks, and I also tried to focus more on science and history – two of my weaker subjects that I hope will not be weak for my kids! I intended to study some literature on the side of history, but, well…that just hasn’t happened much. Thus, literature has fallen more or less by the wayside in the past couple of years.

And while I wouldn’t call any subject particularly tedious, there isn’t a whole lot I’ve been teaching that really excites me. Listening in on a couple sessions from a literary professor at the conference made me realize just how much I’ve missed studying literature! With my new curriculum on the way, I am actually looking forward to next year instead of trying to ignore it for as long as possible.

6. It Helped Me Look for New Connections

I think one of the biggest things I’ve struggled with in my homeschooling so far is the feeling of isolation. I know probably hundreds of homeschoolers, so it’s not that I feel alone in a global sense. But in a local sense, it’s been difficult for me to make real connections with other homeschoolers in my area that I can visit with on a regular basis.

In truth, though, I haven’t really tried that hard…Again, my introverted nature is not too keen on looking for ways to socialize with new people! But this conference alerted me to several different (very active, apparently) homeschool groups and co-ops in my area. I haven’t signed up for anything yet, but I plan to do so soon!

In sum, I think the conference was absolutely worth the time and (very reasonable) price to attend. I didn’t take my children this year, but (unlike me as a child) I think they would probably very much enjoy it! Something to consider for next year’s conference!

-Jessica