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My First Homeschool Conference Experience

CAUTION: Very wordy post ahead!

If you follow me on social media or have the joy of being in my inner circles, you may have heard about my goal to homeschool Gaia next year. The option to home school has always been on the table for her, but she’s so social I felt like public school might do her good. Sadly, I was mistaken. What happened instead is that she’s so focused on making friends and being like everyone else that she doesn’t focus on her academics. Though I’ve made arrangements to still feed the side of her that needs a lot of social interaction, in order to get her back on track to what is important I’m committing myself to homeschooling her for at least one year.

You can read some more about this decision, how it affects my own education, and take a peek into my curriculum choices on Earthly Educator.

As part of this whole homeschool process I was encouraged by everyone I spoke to to attend my local homeschooling convention. I joined the Florida Parent Educators Association as soon as my decision was solid and registered for the convention in Orlando. I then attended that convention this past weekend. I guess I should say I attended half a day on Friday… I’ll tell you why.

FPEA 2014 convention

I realize homeschooling is a choice made primarily by Christian families. I fully acknowledged 80% of the time that the choice to homeschool is done by families with goals focused on Christ0centered education. My favorite homeschool families are Christians. I’ve even chosen some curriculum that is linked to a love of Christ.

I am not ashamed of my confusion about my faith. It started when my roommate found god in 2011. He tried so desperately to convert me then but I was stubborn, like always,. It wasn’t until after I moved away and came out of a bad situation stronger for having endured I felt maybe God not only existed but actually loved me. In January I began reading the Bible. I’m behind on my goals to get through it, but I’m comfortable with my choices. I don’t know God, and I am not sure if I love him. But I am beginning to trust him so you could say I’m making progress.

So concerning the FPEA convention: Thursday was the kick-off, Friday and Saturday were for lectures, and Sunday was the graduation. Since the drive was a little daunting and I had my 14 month old with me, I decided to skip the kick-off and had planned to just attend lectures. So Friday I make the 1 hour drive, plus 30 minutes past the convention to drop of Gaia, and 30 minutes back. I parked in some sketchy dirt road behind the Gaylord Palms and had to walk about 15 minutes in 99 degrees with a baby on my back. So needless-to-say I felt like poop when I got into my first lecture.

Luckily my first lecture was done my Kirk Martin of Celebrate Calm. He was very upbeat and real and helped me to understand a lot about keeping the peace at home. His son provided with the perfect quote to help my daughter understand her responsibilities over her actions: “If you control yourself your parents won’t have to control you.” We already don’t allow time to be wasted on tantrums and Gaia knows that her room is meant for sulking. But maybe there’s a way to help her to control her actions and perhaps we can work together to prevent any future break downs.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m going to research homeschooling before attending a convention because otherwise it’s a waste of money, right? FPEA offered an orientation class and I assumed that by attending I’d come out feeling even more confident and get some questions answered. I was really disappointed though because the speaker just skimmed the lecture notes and only covered the basics like teaching style, your legal right, and evaluation methods but with a VERY biased point of view. He also didn’t repeat questions and answered them very vaguely so the last half hour was a waste altogether. I did provide feedback of my disappointment both at the conference and via email.

FPEA heidi st john

Heidi St. John was one of my favorite speakers. During her iMom lecture she talked about the ROOSTERs in our lives; the daily distractions that make us feel overwhelmed when really we aren’t. This hit home for me because I am so guilty of feeling like my online obligations are real obligations. I don’t have to tweet about every adventure. I don’t have to instagram every outing. I’ve already began to pull back on Facebook (it’s starting to suck anyway, you feel me?), so it was all very real to me.

I attended one more lecture, but was disappointed again so I headed to the exhibit hall. It was so huge! RightStart Mathematics helped me better understand the used curriculum I scored last month. I signed Gaia up for Friends4One (the owner of the program is amazing and helped me sift through some of my own personal feelings on faith). Simply Charlotte Mason was skeptical of my approach, but still helped me figure out a way to implement their style of learning to language arts. And although it isn’t right for us, the Sonlight curriculum was a really fun find because I was originally looking for something similar for Gaia, only less Christ-centered and more secular.

So what was the problem?

Well, I was under the impression that this convention was all inclusive and that I’d find a mix of different things. Although I would have liked to attend more lectures by Heidi and Kirk, it still slightly bothered me that almost all the lectures were revolved around teaching in a Christ-centered home. As if you can’t tell I’m really not bothered at all and who knows… I might be way into it next year. But as a first-timer I was not impressed. I was shocked! And I felt little and out of place.

When I got home I was exhausted. The next morning I simply didn’t feel like dealing with the drive, the parking, and trying to navigate which lectures were worth it and which ones were not. I emailed FPEA with my concerns and let them know how bummed I am about rushing to register for a convention that served very little purpose for me.

I am still very excited for this next year and aside from small details for my home organization, we’re totally ready! Did you attend a homeschool convention in your area? What kinds of things did you learn to implement this coming year?

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Comments

  1. Elizabeth says:

    This was a lovely read. I remember my first FPEA convention was a similar experience. I was so overwhelmed. I had another mom ride with me and left her there! Ha. We are still friends, and she found a ride home. But, I just wasn’t prepared for the whole big thing. I wasn’t going to go this year, but I just couldn’t stay away. I’m so glad you’re homeschooling.:)

    • I can’t believe you left someone at your first convention! Haha! It is really overwhelming, but I was able to come home and download some fo the audio tracks to learn from at my own pace at home. I’ve been able to process it and I think I’m at a comfortable point right now in my journey. Thanks for stopping by, Liz!

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