Sunday, February 25, 2007

Homeschool Conference Update

Just finished up a busy week preparing for and enjoying the InHome Conference here in the Chicago suburbs. This is the fourth year I've been a vendor at this particular conference, and I enjoy it so much.

The people who run it do a top-notch job, and it just reinforces my belief that homeschool moms can handle almost anything. We arrived Thursday afternoon to set up our booth and found Susan, the vendor hall coordinator, facing a situation where she had been given a hall full of tables in the wrong sizes, and she had to reconfigure everything as vendors arrived looking to set up their booths. When someone pays for an 8-foot table, you can't just give them a 6-foot table. That's not what they paid for. Susan handled the ensuing confusion calmly and professionally; there's no way I could have dealt with it nearly as well.

I taught two workshops on Friday, "Preparing Your Teens for Life On Their Own" and "Blogging for Homeschool Moms." The first, based on my book Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers, went well, and I enjoyed meeting several of the attendees afterwards.
The second workshop was so much fun! It had been capped attendance-wise because of space limitations, but quite a few people must have come without signing up. It was a packed house, and everyone arrived ready to ask great questions and learn the basics of blogging (the why's, not the how's ---I'm no techie!) Based on the questions and comments at the workshop, I predict a new crop of talented homeschooling bloggers will burst on the scene before long.

Dd15 ran the booth on Friday while I did my workshops, so she got to enjoy the best thing about homeschool conferences--talking with the attendees. On Saturday, with no workshops left on my list of things to do, I ran the booth alone, so I had the entire day to enjoy visiting with everyone. Even though I'm pretty far along the homeschooling road, I continue to be impressed with the thoughtful intelligence of those who choose to homeschool their children. Some of these people face great odds in tackling this lifestyle (work schedules, money issues, disapproving relatives), but they persevere because they see the positive results of homeschooling in their kids' lives. Some of the people were those I've met at previous conferences: it's so much fun hearing news of their families each year.

Since I began attending this conference as a vendor, I've noticed a steady increase in the number of homeschooling parents who identify themselves as former public school teachers. I knew that a large percentage of public school teachers send their own children to private schools, but I've discovered that many are leaving the public schools altogether to homeschool. These people have been in the trenches---they know what's going on in public schools better than anyone, and they don't want their children there. Never having sent a child to school, I am often naive about what goes on there, but these former teachers are enlightening me. Some left teaching because of their own frustration with the public school system, others because of the dangers of teaching in today's schools. It certainly is a different world than when I was young. Teachers have desks thrown at them, knives pulled on them ....the list goes on. I am often critical of the public school system, and am grateful that I don't have to send my kids there. But I rarely think about what it must be like to work in such an environment. From what these former teachers are telling me, it's very hard to establish a learning environment there. They rightly believe their kids deserve better. I really admire them for what they're doing about it.

Back to the conference....it's fun to meet other vendors, particularly those I've heard of or corresponded with but never met in person. Alison McKee was there again this year...a neat lady whose unschooled kids are now adults and doing very well. I also got to meet Jim Hodges in person..his audiobooks booth was right across from mine. We both belong to an online group of Christian self-publishers, and it was nice to put a friendly face to the name I'd seen online. In the next booth was homeschool graduate Peter Groth, now a college graduate, private tutor and proprietor of Adventure French. It was interesting to hear his stories of working as a substitute teacher, coming as they were from someone who was homeschooled right up until college. Around the corner was Dale Bartlett, author of Have Kids-Will Travel, a book which details how his family of six enjoys world travel on a frugal budget.

Now that the conference is over, I will be able to get back to posting here. I've got lots of info to share.....keep checking back! And since homeschool conference season is just beginning, you might want to prepare by taking my free 4-day e-course, "Keys to a Successful Homeschool Convention Experience."

1 comment:

Dana said...

Interesting...I haven't been to a homeschool convention, yet. This year, ours is offering one free evening so I might go to that. Then we'll see, I suppose!