There are many things I love about homeschooling conferences: meeting new people, the energy of a live audience, and the feeling of belonging. Being together as a large group of homeschoolers is balm for the loneliness we sometimes feel in this solitary endeavor. I enjoy hearing passionate speakers introduce new topics.
Despite these perks, though, there are some disadvantages to these conferences. Only a few people are heard. (We don’t often hear from those that are just beginning their homeschool, or those that lack confidence and are teetering on the edge of their commitment.) The topics of the conference are largely determined by the Board of Directors and volunteers. There isn’t the ability to fluidly change the topics in response to the audience’s changing interests.
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage to the homeschooling conference is the vendor hall. “Don’t ever take money to the conference!” was the sage advice given me by an experienced homeschooler. I reflect on her wisdom each time I see the booths of supplies. Our weaknesses and fears are revealed by our purchases. “I’m not doing enough…therefore I will spend money on buying this solution…” We aren’t taught to rely on our own ingenuity, or encouraged to be creative and DIY our own solution. We accept the spoon-feeding, the scaffolding, the crutch.
Rather than a big discount on a prepackaged collection, I prefer to walk away from the homeschooling conference with a boat load of ideas specific to my children and my situation.