Thursday, June 12, 2014

When It Is This Good, You Have to Share


  I, and several other families that I know, attend the FPEA homeschool convention in Orlando every Memorial Day weekend (I actually missed 2013 so I could be in NC for the birth of my second grandchild, but you get the idea). I have been homeschooling for 23 years. I have graduated 3 students who have all gone on to successfully attend college. Some people wonder why in the world I would take the time and pay the money to attend the convention. I will tell you why I do and why you should too.
          I think that one of the greatest needs in the homeschool community is for moms to connect with one another. We need to know that we are not out there all alone. We need to realize that there are actually an awful lot of us around who are eager to get together and support one another. There are a lot of moms out there who can encourage us to press on toward the goal. One of the best places to go to see that community is the FPEA convention. This convention was the largest homeschool convention in the world, ever. There were thousands of us there meeting together, building relationships, offering advice and encouragement. Don’t you want that?
          It is a great place to actually look through materials that you are considering using for your children. When I read through catalogs, I see that every company offers a third grade math book that teaches addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. It is only when I can look through the books that I can really get an idea about how it will fit our family. Even better, I can often talk with the authors or moms that have actually used the curriculum. I can ask questions about how to put certain things into practice. The advice that I get standing in front of a vendor booth is golden.

          The convention is a great place to find answers to the specific challenges my children and I face. Do I have a struggling reader? Are fractions eluding us? How am I going to handle dissection with my squeamish one? How in the world can I teach high school algebra, beginning reading and care for a toddler at once? What can I do to get my home organized and my budget under control? What about college? I have gotten answers to all of those questions and more at the FPEA convention. There are two full days of workshops offered every year on a variety of topics from people who have been there and done that. What? Experts offering advice on just what I need all in one place? How can I pass that up?
          It seems that every new homeschooler that I talk to starts out with a boxed curriculum. You know, the one where the publisher provides all of the books for each subject in the grade you are teaching. It also seems that after a year or two most of those people are ready to move out of that box and find some things that will fit their child a little better. Maybe they just want to add a little extra or maybe they want to piece together a whole curriculum on their own. Either way, the convention offers the opportunity to explore all kinds of options. I am always amazed at the new offerings each year for homeschoolers. As I walk through the exhibit hall, I realize that the only limits to what my child can learn are their interests and my budget.

          The last reason that I love to go to the convention is that I get recharged when I am there. We end our school year at the end of April, and I am ready for a break. I feel drained and wonder how I am going to get the energy and enthusiasm to start again in June (the beginning of our year). I worry that my youngest will end up skating by because I am out of energy or ideas. Yet, every year without fail, I come home from the convention on fire. I am ready to put new things into practice. I have ideas for how to handle the problems we faced the previous year. I am encouraged to finish well by the graduates I have met.

           Obviously, I love the FPEA convention. To me, the minimal registration amount is a bargain considering the number of benefits I receive. I have already started saving to attend again next year and have talked with three newbies who plan to join in the fun. I hope that many more of you will come to the convention. I know that this means the pool will be even more packed, but it will be worth it to share the time together with you. 

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