He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young
. {Isaiah 40:11}

17 June 2012

Tales of a Homeschool Convention Virgin {What Surprised Me}

As I mentioned last week, I attended a home school convention in Hartford, CT this weekend. If you're keeping track, CJ is going to be 4 in August. We sent him to preschool at the Christian school which I grew up in and have enrolled him in preschool again for this coming year. So why did I go? We are intending to start homeschooling CJ in kindergarten and I am a planner by nature and figure a sneak peak can't hurt. The main reason, though, is that the homeschooling world, if you are unfamiliar with it like me, is incredibly confusing! Words like "Living Books", "Sonlight", "classical education", and "unit studies" are passed around and are completely confounding even to a newbie like me with an degree in elementary education.
Imagine standing before an empty table and thirty-seven complete strangers come up to you with arms full of notebooks written in Mandarin and pile those books on the table and your only instruction is to pick out the notebooks you want to use to shape and mold the minds and hearts of your family for the rest of their lives.
Yeah, it feels something like that.
So that's why I decided to bring you along for the ride. If you are new to homeschooling, FANTASTIC!, so am I! I will share with you what I'm learning and hopefully alleviate some of the "overwhelming-ness" that makes you want to cry and quit before you even get started.

So, if all of that already has you quivering a little, I'll take it easy on you and just tell you of the reasons I was blessed and am incredibly thankful that I was able to attend this convention...

1. I didn't realize how much I have missed ongoing education. This was my favorite surprise of all. I noticed immediately that I was absorbing everything I saw, heard, and read like one of those sponges you buy at the store that quadruples in size when you wet it. I was so thirsty for knowledge...
real. applicable. knowledge.
I had no idea how badly I missed it because I have never been a brilliant student. I have always been average and completely underestimated my love of learning. I was a student once again and suddenly missed my college days not because they were the epitome of freedom and fun for me but because I was learning things that interested me from people who are experts in the field in one convenient location.
I no longer think that continuing education is just "nice" and "noble". I believe that it's beneficial and necessary.

2. I didn't realize that a lot of the seminars aimed at homeschooling moms are applicable to all moms and I dare say that I recommend that stay at home moms and working moms alike could glean something beneficial from this experience. My first handful of classes had tiles like "Exploding Supermom Myths" and "Lies Home School Moms Believe". I assumed those classes would be little support groups for homeschoolers but in reality they were reminders about keeping your marriage first and keeping the reality of being a mom in perspective. There were also classes on discipline like the one given by John Rosemond on "The Well Behaved Child" which had nothing to do with homeschooling at all. I urge you to look into conferences around you and to browse over their class schedule. I have yet to encounter any "Mom Conventions" so this may be a great chance for you if you need a time of refreshment

3. I didn't anticipate how honest everyone would be about what you're in for. For some very strange reason, it seems that the work of a homeschool mom is underestimated. Stay-at-home mom's may understand this too. Ever dealt with the lie that "if you don't work outside of the home you don't actually have a job" or how about the pressure and guilt that comes with staying at home and not having a spotless home with perfectly behaved children, always clean laundry, and no dishes in the sink? I mean seriously, whose reality is this?! Cause it certainly isn't ours! Moms, we have our days where it feels like it's all coming together but once you have been doing it long enough you know that you need to enjoy it but not get too excited over it because tomorrow is a new day and the mess will, inevitably, return! What everyone was very honest about is how homeschooling is a simple math problem...

take the occasional (or everyday) mess and chaos you may already have at home
ADD the weight and time of educating your child in the areas of math, science, reading, writing, history, geography, literature, and Bible... You know what that equals, right? LESS time, MORE mess, MORE personal sacrifice as a parent to make it happen. 

Is it daunting and easy to quit right here? You bet! Does God give you the grace to handle it if you let go of control, let go of the insignificant, and trust that you need to be carried, trained, taught, and disciplined by God just like your little ones will be by you? Absolutely!

4. I didn't anticipate feeling as spiritually refreshed as I did.  I went with one expectation... to answer at least one of my questions about homeschooling. I didn't even matter which one, just as long as I walked away from the weekend a little smarter than I started. I not only had questions answered that I didn't even know to ask, I was spiritually renewed in a way that I didn't realize I needed. Part of that may have been because I went "sans kiddos" and "sans friends". For the first time in ages I could do what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted, and I was free to change my mind whenever I wanted. Boy, have I missed that! Also, like it or not, homeschooling is done by a lot of Christians and so Biblical encouragement is everywhere. {I say this with some confidence because I live in Connecticut where Jesus isn't a popular guy but even here, I heard the truths of God spoken at every turn.} God permeated the meetings and the people and it was beautiful.

5. I didn't realize the potential need to rent a Uhaul. Naturally, someone interested in homeschooling will be excited by the "one-stop-shopping" in the exhibit hall of a conference like this but the number of empty suitcases, rolling carts, and yes, Radio Flyer wagons may catch you off guard. I figured I'd be safe with my backpack but sure enough I walked out with two canvas bags that were given to me out of pity because a man saw me struggling with my arms full of books. 

6. The parking garage was packed with minivans but the denim jumpers and Keds were scarce. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of "normal" people I saw and met. {I thought for sure I would be the coolest person there due to the fact that I almost always wear jeans/shorts and am sporting a nose ring.} Sure, there were some skirts but heck, I wore one one day because it was more comfortable. I saw a few head coverings but in those three days and amongst the hundreds of people I passed, there may have been five total. I encountered real moms, real people, who came from all over New England, and they were normal, REAL people who like Starbucks just like me! {This goes for the speakers too.}

See... that wasn't so bad... YET!


  1. I am glad you enjoyed it. Remember, you will most likely change curriculum a few times and be prepared to have a "library". :)

  2. I really wish I would have gone to one before we moved here! I still feel completely lost in most of it; especially when I hear a new phrase/word! It took me forever to decide on a cirriculum, but from what I understand I'll do what Roberta said and change a few times, so I figured it's just a good place to start. A place to help set a routine and get my feet wet. :) I would love to hear any other knowledge you aquired!


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