Well, that magical time of year has rolled around again. Of course, we are entering the summer season and with that comes BBQs, summer travel (hopefully in your RV) and homeschool conventions. Yes, you heard right! Summer kicks offour homeschool convention season, where thousands of homeschooling, road schooling, and the curious come together to support one another and gain knowledge and insight on the upcoming school year.
What better place to head to than the sunshine state? We decided to attend the 2018 Florida Parent Educators Association FPEA Homeschool Convention. Their theme this year was Building… For a Better Tomorrow! And boy, did they deliver on providing us with the workshops and vendors that we need to do just that.
Nearly four years ago, we decided that we loved hitting the road so much so that we did not want the school calendar to dictate when or how far we could travel at any given time. Needless to say, once we made the decision to home educate our little boys, reality hit me that I was in charge of determining our children’s curriculum, and ultimately, their educational destiny. For me that meant I needed to stay five steps ahead of them at all times. This is when I discovered homeschool conventions and realized I needed to keep this resource in my toolbox for as long as I intended to homeschool my boys.
The FPEA supports its members by providing them with information, support, and guidance as it pertains to homeschooling in the State. If you live outside of the State of Florida, your state is likely to have an organization that acts in the same capacity. The FPEA usually schedules their massive convention during Memorial Day weekend and it promises to provide homeschoolers with a variety of workshops, events, and vendors, all at your fingertips. They certainly delivered on their promise! We have attended homeschool conferences in roughly four states, you do not have to be a resident of that state to participate and benefit from its resources.
I utilize the resources of homeschool conferences every year. Why? I believe that the speakers provide a wealth of information that speaks to the needs of my boys and gives me that extra motivation that is required to tackle another school year.
Homeschooling is not easy, but it is probably the most important job that I have ever had. Just like public school teachers, home educators also need to have resources that are able to uplift, inspire, and offer their students new techniques to tackle their ever-changing educational needs.
The speakers this year discussed topics such as Homeschool 101, The Biology of Behavior, Teaching Critical Thinking, How to Homeschool Through High School, and Teaching the Gifted Child. This is a very small sampling of the topics that were addressed in the workshops. There were multiple workshops that provided something for everyone from the newbies to the seasoned homeschooler. It didn’t matter if you were educating your preschooler or your high school student who’s juggling dual-enrollment courses at the local college; there was a workshop to meet your needs. This is just one reason why I continue to go to the homeschool conferences every year. I always learn something new that nourishes my soul and provides me with new tools to tuck into my toolbox for the upcoming school year.
As much as I enjoy attending the workshops, I must say that my favorite part of the conference is browsing through the vendor hall. This gives me the opportunity to evaluate potential curriculum choices and either rule them out or ask the vendor more detailed questions to see if it would be a good fit for our family. At this conference, I was able to see some curriculum that I had been researching online, and was introduced to some new resources.
This was the perfect place for my boys to interact with the curriculum, worry-free, to see what they were naturally and organically drawn to versus something that I felt was a good fit. It was amazing how much fun the boys had meeting the vendors and experimenting with various curriculums.
The convention had plenty of events to keep parents and children alike busy and entertained. This year’s FPEA homeschool conference offered the parents some fun activities to participate in such as the Mom Strong Pajama Party and the Guys Night Out. Kids of all ages were able to participate in the conference by attending the FPEA Teen Town Hall and had special workshops designed for teens. The younger kids were invited to register for a special children’s program where parents were able to drop them off in a supervised environment for loads of games and activities.
If you are a current homeschooler or are just thinking about it, I recommend attending at least one conference. Try to prepare as much as possible prior to attending so that you get the most out of your experience. My suggestions?
- Pre-register for the event to save on the admission price.
- Print out the list of workshops and vendor list. Try to select the workshops that interest you ahead of time so that you can plan your days appropriately.
- Just like with any large show, whether it be a trade show, RV show or the like, wear comfortable shoes because you will be doing tons of walking.
- Don’t forget snacks and bottled water.
- If you are like me, I am likely to purchase something, so bring a reusable shopping bag or rolling cart. You will get tons of information, at the very least.
Most importantly, have fun!