**Read to the bottom of this post for a chance to win a couples pass to the 2017 OCEANetwork Homeschool Conference!**
When my friend invited me to my first homeschool conference in Portland, Oregon, I didn’t know what to expect.
Having grown up in the homeschool community, I thought I had a pretty good grasp on homeschooling.
I was wrong.
The conference opened up to me not only new curriculum but new ideas about how to approach homeschooling and education.
The first time I heard about deschooling, unschooling, delight-led learning, life schooling, car schooling, relaxed homeschooling, notebooking, or unit studies, I was sitting in a session or around a table visiting at OCEANetwork’s conference.
This was around 2005 or 2006, and the internet was not as much a part of my life as it is now. If this kind of information was available online back then, I was unaware of it. We still had dial-up back then!
I found that my family wasn’t the only ones who didn’t fit the homeschool stereotype: there were other families that did not wear dresses exclusively, didn’t make all their own matching clothing, didn’t have very type-A parents, and didn’t homeschool with a copy-the-public-school mentality.
I was blown away by the diversity and by the idea that anyone could homeschool if they were dedicated to finding a way to make it work for them.
I’m very grateful for the insight the conference has offered which is why I have agreed to promote the conference here on the blog.
In the interest of full disclosure: OCEANetwork has offered me a free pass to the conference in exchange for helping promote the conference. I’m hoping to go this year as I’ve not been physically well enough to attend the last few years. Due to my health, I am unsure if I’ll be able to attend this year, but even if I can’t attend I consider this event worth promoting because of what a blessing it has been to me.
Here are 12 things that I learned at the conference which have stayed with me:
2) Homeschooling doesn’t have to cost me a ton of money.
5) I don’t have to worry about getting too far behind if I understand how homeschooling works –that it’s just the start of a life-long learning process and even struggling learners usually catch up if given patience and the time to do so.
7) I can trust my homeschool and my kids to God who is far more invested in them than I am and loves them more than I ever could.
8) Even the struggles my kids and I have can be used for God’s glory, so we just need to trust Him and His timing.
9) There are tons of different methods of homeschooling, there’s not one right way, and I need to keep looking and trying different things until I figured out what works for my family.
10) It’s okay if I have a bad day or a bad week; it doesn’t make me a bad mom or a bad teacher. I learned this from Heidi St. John who is the keynote speaker this year!
11) It’s not helpful or healthy to compare my family and our homeschool to the neighbor or that family at church because each family has unique challenges that they must address in their own way.
12) I answer to God for how I raise and educate my children –not my neighbor, or someone I think is a “super homeschool mom,” not my parents, or even my pastor– so I need to make prayerful choices for my family even if others don’t agree with my choices.
Those are just a few of the many things I’ve taken away from the conference.
I hope that those who are local to Portland will consider attending. I always leave feeling refreshed and encouraged!
There are even scholarships available for families who have young children and are considering homeschooling. Parents who have never attended the conference before and whose oldest child is under the age of six by the conference date may attend the conference for free.
One of the nicest things about OCEANetwork, in my opinion, is that they try to make this conference available to those with limited funds –which is most homeschool families. One year my husband was laid off and money was really tight. We were still able to go to the conference because of one of their scholarships.
I hope you’ll consider attending the OCEANetwork conference, and, if you’re not in the Pacific Northwest, perhaps there’s another homeschool conference near you that you could attend.
Teachers go to continuing education; homeschool parents can, too!