Originally Sent: 3/20/2014

HSLDA's Toddlers to Tweens Newsletter

March 20, 2014

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Spring into … Convention Season!

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Vicki Bentley helps HSLDA members homeschool children in preschool through 8th grade. She and her husband homeschooled 17 children and led a support group of over 250 families. Read more >>

The calendar tells me that today is the first day of spring (despite our local weather). In the fresh breezes of this season, I eagerly anticipate daffodils, tomato plants, new leaves, open windows, cherry blossoms, the local ice cream stand, and … homeschool conventions!

Many state or regional conventions are not just for homeschoolers, but are truly family expositions, with lots of workshops and exhibits of interest to families—regardless of education choice. If this is your first or second (or tenth) homeschool convention, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the exhibit hall and the long list of workshops. Instead of resigning yourself to breathing into a paper bag to avoid hyperventilation, keep calm and check out our checklists for before, during, and after the convention. For more hints read my previous newsletter: “Getting the Most Out of Your State Convention.”

The leaders of your state or regional homeschool organization plan and work year-around to bring you speakers and exhibitors to inspire, equip, and encourage you in the homeschool journey. Not only do the speakers spark (or renew) the vision for strong families and home discipleship and education, but the exhibitors also minister to parents’ need for encouragement, and they provide tools for teaching.

The Weekend that Keeps On Giving

Did you know that many of your state conventions not only encourage you that weekend, but also help to fund the year-around support of homeschoolers in your state? Many state or regional homeschool groups count on convention revenues for their website, statewide activities, publications, and lobbying efforts to promote and protect home education the rest of the year. They also rely heavily on volunteers for the convention staff (and other help), so this can be a fun time to get a caravan together to work at the convention.

Something for Everyone

I love homeschool conventions! After 22 years of attending, I still enjoy everything about them: seeing materials “up close and personal” and chatting with the exhibitors, revisiting friendships and making new ones, getting legislative updates, hearing the history of homeschooling in our state, getting some in-service training and encouragement from amazing speakers, seeing moms and dads and grandparents and kids, and the excitement of that many folks all there to be encouraged on this journey. God uses homeschool conventions to encourage us, equip us, and remind us why we do this.

So I asked some fellow homeschool parents: What do you like about your convention?

• Coming together as a community is my most favorite part. It’s a powerful experience gathering with thousands of other like-minded parents in one place for a weekend. So refreshing and inspiring! (Nancy)

• What I get out of going: refreshment, inspiration, picking the brain of the “experts,” meeting other like-minded peeps. (Debra)

• My kids are grown and I still spend money in the wonderful exhibit halls—on grandkids, and on fun toys for my husband, or neat books for us … because most homeschool conventions are not just homeschool conventions, but fabulous family expos!

• Knowing that I am supporting the work of the statewide homeschool organization has always been important, too. (Nancy)

• I like to see the curriculum in person and talk to the vendors. Usually my favorite speakers are the ones that deal with learning challenges. They offer not just encouragement, but excellent teaching tips as well. (Kelly)

• Continuing education for me in all of those wonderful speakers/workshops! Oh, how I wish more families would make this a priority. Also, it is always encouraging to me (and my family—if they are with me) to see the sheer number of fellow homeschoolers. (Tricia)

• Fave part: checking out curricula and supplies (I like to see and handle things). (Debra)

• Shopping in the exhibit hall was always a favorite, too. (My girls are grown now, so there’s no need for curriculum, books, or resources now … but one day there will be grandbabies and I will shop again I am sure.(Nancy)

• The sessions … relevant to my stage of the journey. (Debra)

• Amazing speakers, encouragement for the journey, and friends!!! (Dawn)

• It’s a spiritual retreat weekend specifically designed for uplifting homeschooling parents and their relationship with God! The keynote sessions, workshops, exhibit hall, all let parents know that they are doing the right thing for the children God has entrusted them with! (Shea)

• It’s a big reunion with some of my favorite people in the world. (Mary)

• That community experience was what struck me most powerfully as a new homeschool mom (many years ago) attending my first convention. So encouraging and inspiring. I’m speaking and teaching at conventions now, but that’s still one of the most powerful parts for me. That’s why I hope so strongly that in-person conventions will endure. (Mary Jo)

• • •

Whether you get a gaggle of girlfriends together to volunteer a few hours, then hit the workshops and exhibit hall; or you and your spouse make it an overnight vacation to recharge and renew the vision of home education—your convention is a place to be reminded: You CAN Homeschool!

Wishing you vision and inspiration,

Vicki

Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Toddlers to Tweens Consultant
www.hslda.org/toddlerstotweens


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