It’s that time of year again, folks! Homeschool convention season! Yay!
Does anyone get giddy over this? Am I the only one who thinks homeschool conventions are like Disney World for homeschool moms?
This year I had the pleasure of attending the Great Homeschool Convention in Fort Worth, TX. If you have never been to this convention, let me try to give you a feel for the experience.
Disclosure: I received free admission to the 2017 Great Homeschool Convention in Fort Worth, TX, for myself and my family, in exchange for an honest review of my experience.
One of my primary missions in life is to invest in the education and discipleship of my children. I will gladly take all the encouragement, inspiration, and wisdom from others that I can find! Yes, even though I’m fourteen years into the journey, I still desperately need this. My youngest baby is just a year old, so Lord willing, I still have at least seventeen or so years to go in my career as a homeschooling mom. Naturally, listening to the speakers is my favorite part of the convention, and I always come away feeling refreshed and equipped.
Fantastic speakers engage attendees in hundreds of workshops. Topics range from about getting started in homeschooling, legal aspects, classical homeschooling, critical thinking, Charlotte Mason, how to stay organized, parenting and discipleship, preschool, elementary, high school, college, and so much more.
Some of our family’s personal favorites this year were Norm Wakefield of Spirit of Elijah Ministries, J. Warner Wallace of Cold Case Christianity, Jay Wile of Berean Builders, Michael Gurian of the Gurian Institute, and Natasha Crain of christianmomthoughts.com.
One aspect that I really appreciate about Great Homeschool Conventions is how they organize their workshops by tracks that attendees may have a special interest in. This year, the tracks were:
- Parenting track
- Real Faith for the Real World teen track
- Homeschool 101 track
- Classical Homeschooling track
- Charlotte Mason track
Key Note Speakers
Great Homeschool Conventions invites some pretty amazing keynote speakers. This year, we had the opportunity to hear:
- Holocaust Survivor Dr. Inge Auerbacher
- Musician Andrew Peterson
- Michael Franzese, former capo in the Colombo crime family
- Nick Vujicic of Life without Limbs
- Comedian Jeff Foxworthy
Andrew Peterson, Life Without Limbs, and Jeff Foxworthy were evening shows that required a separate ticket and an extra cost. In a word, these speakers were:
Peterson – encouraging
Vujicic – inspirational
Foxworthy – hilarious
I would say they are worth the extra cost!
The exhibit hall is huge, and offers a great opportunity to:
- Explore products that moms love (Ahem: curriculum! As well as books and CDs that encourage and equip)
- Explore products that kids love (toys, art supplies, story CDs)
- Talk to vendors (and get to know some of your favorite speakers)
- Learn about organizations of interest (colleges, homeschool groups, etc.)
- Buy curriculum without paying shipping (and sometimes receive a convention discount)
- Pour over books
For my family, Miller Pads and Paper is a highlight every year. I can never resist picking up a few sketch pads, Dover coloring books, and oil pastels. Rainbow Resource is another favorite stop, where I can get my hands on nearly any curriculum I’ve been wanting to check out. We visited Norm Wakefield‘s booth and could have bought him out, but decided on two audio sets. The older girls could have gotten lost in the vintage books at Books Bloom. Some of the older kids may begin using Tomorrow’s Filmmakers as a result of visiting their booth.
My Family’s Reaction
Maybe we are odd, but I’m not the only one in my family who is passionate about this.
My husband (Michael) enjoys going with me every year, too. He took Friday off work so that he could attend all that day. We all attended Thursday night and Saturday as well. I asked him if he would give me a quote about his overall experience, and this is what he said:
So many good sessions. In the future, Norm Wakefield will be a sure not-to-miss. The three evening events were outstanding. Life Without Limbs was my favorite, very inspirational.
A quick survey of my kids (literally; I put them on the spot as I was typing this):
Young Mike: It was cool. I really liked the Cold Case Christianity sessions.
Chelle: I liked it. My favorite was Christian Filmmaking.
William: I really liked it! My favorite speaker was Jeff Foxworthy.
Timothy: I liked all the speakers/comedians they brought in. Nick Vujicic was my favorite – very inspiring. The Cold Case talks were awesome. Also, the exhibit hall was really well done.
Ashlyn: What I appreciate is that after you listen to the speakers, you can talk to them and find their resources in the exhibit hall.
Olivia: It was pretty good. I really liked the Andrew Peterson concert, and the Christian Filmmaking was probably my favorite session.
If you are a homeschooler (or a person considering homeschooling) who has never had the pleasure of attending a large homeschooling convention, I highly recommend it! In addition to the Fort Worth event, Great Homeschool Conventions will also be hosting four more conventions in 2017, in Greenville, SC (March 16-18), Cincinnati, OH (April 20-22), Ontario, CA (June 15-17), and Ballwin, MO (July 13-15).
You can find more information about the convention at www.greathomeschoolconventions.com.