I remember the first time my husband and I went to our local homeschool convention. Our oldest was 2 (I’m not joking – the HSLDA guy actually laughed when we told him that) and we just wanted to dip our little toe into the waters of homeschooling and find out more. What we got was instead a firehose of information and bit of a culture shock.
But it was SO good. And every year we keep coming back. We wandered around picking up parenting tools, learning about homeschooling, and marveling at the diversity of the group.
Our oldest is now 8 and we’ve got just a few years of homeschooling under our belt. Not experts by any stretch of the imagination, but not total newbies either. Every year, we encourage homeschoolers to GO TO THEIR local state convention. I’m going to share with your our top reasons why you should go, along with some options if you CAN’T make it this year.
We absolutely love our state homeschool organization, the Oregon Christian Home Education Association Network (OCEANetwork). We fell in love with it that first year and I think we’ve only missed one year since then. Yes, there are “big” conventions we could travel to if we wanted, but we choose to go to the state convention instead.
Why Attend Your Homeschool Convention
1. Fellowship & Connection
We get to know other Christian homeschoolers, appreciating our common goal to raise children for the glory of God, and provide a great home education. The experience of that unity AND the diversity has been unique for us, and we love it! This year OCEANetwork has family movie night, dad’s shop talk, lunch meetings based on stage or interest, and more!
2. Encouragement & Practical Help
As homeschoolers, we would serve ourselves and our children well to seek out great encouragement. Whether we need parenting tips, help with a struggling reader, an overview of homeschooling methods, etc., we’re sure to find it at the conference!
3. Lending Our Support
We love to be able to give back to our state homeschool conference, and the fact that it is so local and run by volunteers makes it personal. We can talk to the organizers and board members, hear about immediate needs and pitch in, become supporting members, and so on. We get to be a part of something (and YOU CAN TOO).
While we buy what we can from the conference vendors, what we can’t get there is purchased from places like Rainbow Resources or ChristianBook.com. We also are blessed to have a local used homeschool bookstore we love called Exodus books!
4. Vendors & Curriculum
We GLADLY spend our homeschool dollars at the conference. Why? Because it helps keep the conference running, supports the organization all year as it supports us, and also supports the homeschool vendors that work so hard to be there and serve homeschooling families.
We also really appreciate being able to talk with vendors, ask questions, compare, and actually handle the curriculum in person! So many purchasing mistakes can be avoided that way.
Not to mention the used curriculum exchange! Woot! Can you just see me with my roll cart luggage, scooping up great curriculum deals, games, science materials, and readers? It’s a reality and it’s a beautiful thing. 🙂
5. Wisdom & Experience
As we attend each year, become more involved, and participate in the various activities, we grow in wisdom and experience. This is mostly because we are around others with vastly greater wisdom and experience than our own and we get to LEARN from them! We have come to know some truly amazing people, and even find some invaluable mentors, in this way.
6. Vision & Refreshment
Sometimes it can be easy to get lost in the homeschooling weeds. The details and daily rhythm cause us to loose sight of the vision and beauty of homeschooling. Recapturing that vision – finding that wonderful refreshment – is critical in helping us avoid burnout.
7. Weekend Away
My husband and I have been blessed to be able to make a weekend of our conference each year. As we get ready for the conference, we plan on a fancier-than-usual hotel, some meals out, and enjoying slowing down just a bit between conference days to catch up and process what we’ve learned. If you can swing that, I highly recommend it! But if you can’t, the commuting time can still be surprisingly helpful to catch those moments of reflection.
8. Year-Round Support & Encouragement
OCEANetwork and other state homeschool organizations work YEAR ROUND to provide support, encouragement, and practical helps to us homeschoolers. They are there to point us to support groups, get us the information we need about requirements, and they go to bat for us to keep homeschooling free and unrestricted. It’s a HUGE deal and worth our support!
9. Local Focus
Yes, there are bigger and fancier conferences out there than your state conference, most likely. But I hope you’re now as convinced as we are that attending your state conference is a superior choice. They know the resources, the people, and the local state concerns better. Will you be going this year?
Can’t Go to the Homeschool Conference?
I know that sometimes it’s not possible to make your state conference for the year. There are some great options you can use instead! Here are my two favorite.
|Conference Recordings – Be sure to purchase conference recordings, as I’m sure your organization provides them as OCEANetwork does. We have purchased those nearly every year as well, even though we attended. SO many hours of encouragement and tips we can learn from during the rest of the year!|
|Digital Homeschool Conventions – This year a group of homeschool bloggers are putting on a Digital Homeschool Convention and it does look great. It’s FREE, first of all (for a limited time), and there are great speakers and digital vendors to buy from. It doesn’t replace the state homeschool conference by any means, so do try your best to make those, but it can be a great resource when you can’t make it in person!|