Let me start this post by saying: I dread telling people we’re homeschooling.
I worry people will assume a certain set of reasons why we’ve chosen this path (most of which are unflattering stereotypes that don’t represent most of the homeschooling families I know). So let me start this post with a disclaimer that I think there are HUGE benefits to both homeschool and public school. We may not do this forever, but for these early years, it seems like a good fit for our family.
With that being the current plan, I packed up my trusty backpack I’ve been using since I was 15, and headed to my very first homeschool conference with two older, wiser mom friends, which definitely added to the fun and inspiration level of the weekend. It was encouraging, exciting and kind of like trying to drink from a fire hose. Here are my top 5 takeaways in no particular order:
1. Hands-down, one of my favorite parts of the weekend was getting to look through all the curriculum I’ve read reviews about. If you’re considering homeschooling, I *highly* recommend attending a conference for that reason alone. I was amazed how quickly I was able to rule out some programs that were not a good fit for me as a teacher, despite many people loving them. Now the next step will be to see how they work for Caleb.
2. Going along with that, I loved that I went the year before I need to buy curriculum/make choices. It was so freeing to check out everything with no pressure to buy. I did end up picking up a gently used copy of “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”. It looks basically identical to the America Reads curriculum I did with students when I was in college. We’re definitely not ready to use it yet, but at least when he asks, “Can you teach me how to read?” I’ll be ready : )
3. Even though I lean towards a certain educational philosophy, I really enjoyed hearing speakers who follow a different lean. Most teachers (home or otherwise) pull from several philosophies because each one has strengths. It was great to hear some of those emphasized that I might not be exposed to in my usual reading and I definitely took away some ideas I want to apply, even now, in our home.
4. It got me really excited about homeschooling. Seeing so many other families (and more Ergos than I’ve ever seen in one place before in my life!), hearing speakers who are passionate about effective teaching/learning, and talking to my mom friends who have been there/done that was incredibly encouraging.
5. Speaking of those who have been there done that, one of my big conference take aways was actually outside the realm of curriculum/academics. I heard from so many people that weekend: “Don’t be so focused on getting it all done that you forget to enjoy your children and their childhood. Take time to build memories, work on life long habit/skills, go on field trips.” Again, something that was meaningful for me to hear even before we “officially” begin.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I’m already looking forward to going again next year : )