Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blog Cruise: Homeschooling Conventions - Must Go or No?

This week on The Blog Cruise the following question was raised.....

Homeschool Conventions - Do you attend, what are the benefits, pitfalls, etc. 
Share your experience!

Ironically enough...I just got home from my state homeschooling convention Saturday night!

I have been homeschooling for the last eight years. For at least the last five years I have attended at least one day of our state convention and for the last two I've been able to go both days. I have found it to be throughly enjoyable and it recharges my sagging energy. It reminds me again of why I homeschool!

I highly recommend that everyone should attend at least once somewhere. Nearly every state hosts one and there are some some pretty big regional ones as well. Most conventions are set up the same way...they invite in keynote speakers and then host various workshops as well on various topics. There is typically something there for everyone. Not all conventions have things for children to do, so be sure you have a way to keep your kiddos occupied during the time you are in sessions or find a sitter and enjoy the time away as I do each year.

Benefits to attending:

  • You can check out lots of different curriculum.
  • You can hear wonderful speakers give encouraging talks.
  • You can learn something new.
  • You can meet new friends.
  • You can become recharged for the new year.
  • You can typically save shipping costs on curriculum bought.
Cons to attending:
  • Costs. Most are not expensive to attend, but if you do not live nearby, you'll need to spend money on accommodations.
  • Spending too much money on curriculum and books that look very enticing on the tables.
As I mentioned above, I just arrived home from our state convention. Quite honestly, I just wasn't sure if I wanted to attend this year. I looked over the proposed general sessions and the line-up of keynote speakers and the workshops planned. Very few jumped out at me. 

However, I knew that I needed the time away so I went and brought hubby with me this year. I make him go every other year.

I was so completely blessed this weekend that I know it was God's leading to have me attend.

A few days before we were to leave, we heard that the Maine State Governor, Paul LePage, would be arriving on Friday evening to talk to us. This is the first time we've ever had a current governor attend. Needless to say most of us were thrilled. 

While I didn't agree with what he said 100%, it was still nice to see that he seemed to understand homeschooling and realized how much we wanted the freedom to do so to continue. 

The two keynote speakers were Mark Hamby from Lamplighter Publishing and Steve Demme from Math-U-See. 

If you have never heard Mark Hamby speak, you simply must try to do so. If nothing else, head to Lamplighter Publishing's website and check out this interview with him. Here is Part 1 and Part 2. He touches on a lot of the things he talked about this weekend. 

He was also so hilarious! He intersperses humor with his talks so well that Friday night I was literally laughing so hard I was crying. However, each talk had such a good message to it. In fact, I was so convicted that much of the boys "electronic time" will be severely diminished. 

For anyone that uses Math-U-See, you will know Steve Demme. He was the only speaker I was looking forward to hearing until I arrived and heard the rest. Mr. Demme was excellent and surprisingly enough, did not talk about math at all unless you were at his table. 

My favorite talk by him was on courtship. Since I am now the parent of a fourteen year old son, this has become closer to the forefront of my thoughts. I'm not a huge proponent of dating. I'd much rather see a courtship-type relationship. Mr. Demme defined it as "purposeful dating under God." 

However, the best moment I had with Mr. Demme? We went to breakfast Saturday morning and he arrived shortly after us. My hubby heard him mention he was there alone to the waitress so my very extroverted hubby invited him to join us. He graciously did. 

When he sat down he introduced himself, "Hi, I'm Steve." I replied, "I know. You are in my living room a lot." We love MUS and it has truly helped my boys learn and understand math so much better.

Overall I had a great weekend. I learned some things and felt inspired and convicted. It's helped me push through the next few weeks until spring finally arrives full force. It's given me the strength to finish our school year strong. 

Be sure to check in at The Blog Cruise on Tuesday to read other Crew member's opinions on this topic.


  1. How fun!!!! I've been to conventions (not homeschool ones) and had the fortune to eat or visit with a keynote speaker. I felt like I was rubbing elbows with the famous. It does tend to give a new light on the convention and taken more to heart what was spoken about.

    Great post and thanks for sharing your experience. I've heard Mark Hamby speak at the TOS Expo. Great speaker.

  2. I'm so glad that you listed both the pros and the cons. How sweet of your hubby to ask Mr. Demme to join you! I loved your response when he introduced himself, very cute!

  3. Sounds like a great mid-year picker-upper :).

  4. I just went to my 2nd ever homeschool convention and was very blessed by the speakers. I'm now recommending these regional conventions to non-homeschoolers since they give such good tips to parents!


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