321 | 5 Reasons Why You Should Attend a Homeschool Convention This Year (Sean Allen)
It’s that time again! Homeschool convention season is just getting started, and there are so many reasons why you should consider attending one. From the huge curriculum fair to the encouraging and informative speakers, there’s no better place to recharge, gear up, and be uplifted ahead of the new school year.
Sean Allen is the founder of The Well Ordered Homeschool, husband to his beautiful bride Caroline and a proud father of eight. He has a bachelor of fine arts in graphic design and is passionate about creating materials to assist parents in the incredibly challenging, yet surpassingly beautiful, work of schooling and training their children at home.
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Sean Allen Hello and welcome to another installment of the Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Sean Allen, and I am one of the many hosts that we have on the podcast. Each week, you'll hear from one of us as we talk about this busy and blessed season of educating our children at home. And while the title of the podcast is Homeschool Solutions, it should come as no surprise to you that we do not have the answer to every question related to homeschooling. However, it is our hope that each episode will encourage you to look upward and seek the counsel and direction of our Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ, as we endeavor to train our children in the way they should go. We're so glad that you decided to join us today.
But before we get started, I'd like to take a moment to thank our sponsor. The sponsor of this episode of the Homeschool Solutions Podcast is MediShare. MediShare is an affordable and biblical health care alternative. We invite you to find out more at MyChristianCare.org for their ongoing support of homeschooling families just like yours. And with that, let's dive in to today's episode.
Well, hello again, and welcome to another episode of the Homeschool Solutions Podcast. I'm your host today, Sean Allen, and I'm very happy to be talking to you again. I hope that you all are doing well and that the Lord is blessing you and your your family. And today I wanted to talk to you a little bit about homeschool conventions. This is something that is a big part of my family's life, and it has been for quite some time, even before we became acquainted with GHC or the Great Homeschool Conventions. And now that I'm a featured speaker with them and have become well acquainted with Mary Jo and their family, and they've been such a blessing in our lives.
But even before that, going to homeschool conventions was a really important part of our school year. Caroline just really needed that. I'd say our whole family really needed that opportunity that she had to go to a convention or just maybe just one or two conventions a year. And in the years that she wasn't able to go to a convention, you could kind of tell it, and it was kind of discouraging for her. But we would go to local conventions. Sometimes we would travel to another convention. So we've been to a number of them over the years. And then a little later, we became vendors at conventions. So we've been on both sides of the table at homeschool conventions, and we've just seen what a blessing they can be in our lives and in other people's lives, too. So today I just wanted to make a little pitch and give you five good reasons why you might consider attending a homeschool convention this year.
They're already up and running. We've already been to our first one this season at South Carolina this past weekend. I'm recording this on the 22nd of March, and we're going to another one this weekend in St. Charles, Missouri, which is not too far from our neck of the woods. It's about three-and-a-half hours east of where we live. So we're really looking forward to it and we're excited about it. I'm going to try to give you some reasons that would apply to you as an attendee and not necessarily as a vendor, but some of these reasons apply to both of those categories.
So let's just dive right in here. The first reason that I want to give you as to why it would be a good idea, or I think is profitable for you to attend a homeschool convention is probably the most obvious reason that you would think of is the curriculum hall, the curriculum fair. And GHC does a great job of securing these these locations, which are central to large populations of homeschoolers. And then they invite all these wonderful vendors and they're very well attended. And there's just a lot of different options on display at these vendor halls. And it's all hands-on. And that's just the great thing about it.
So many of these vendors— well probably all of them are on online in some form or fashion and you're able to purchase their books or their curriculum or their resources online. But you know, it's not the same being able to just get your hands on it, thumb through the pages, talk to the people—oftentimes the people who wrote it or created it—and get their take on it. And you may have, you know, a series of questions that you would like to ask. Well, this is the best place for you to be able to do that is just to talk directly to them or one of their representatives. And they know the ins and outs of that resource, and they can really help point you in a good direction.
And my wife has had times when she's talked to various vendors and you know, they've told her things that she just wasn't aware of, things that you really can't learn online or through just a basic, you know, two paragraph description on their website. And then also looking at the pictures is just not the same as being able to get your hands on the actual book or the actual curriculum itself. So there's just really no comparing to that. Now, sometimes you can't make it there, but if you can make it to a convention, this is one of the number one reasons why it is so beneficial for homeschooling parents.
And my wife— is I don't want to say— she's a curriculum junkie, and she just loves this stuff. I don't get quite as excited about it as she does. I like homeschool conventions, but she really has always loved homeschool conventions. She loves researching curriculum, and she really enjoys—again—being able to, you know, talk to people directly about it and just see it with her own two eyes. So it's a kick for her. And there's no better place to—again—to engage these companies and to get a better look and feel at what they have on offer than in a homeschool convention. So that's the most obvious reason that I'm going to throw out there for why you might consider attending one this year.
So the second reason would be the discovery. The potential for discovery is also something that's rather exciting at homeschool conventions because, you know, a lot of times you get your information or you get your recommendations from various sources online, and one person mentions this curriculum and another person recommends another curriculum. And then you think, "Well, that's all that's available out there." And then you go to a convention and there's row after row after row of vendors and you walk up and down the rows and then you find something— you find a lot of stuff that you just were not aware of. You didn't even know it was out there. There's something exciting about that. And especially if it fills a hole in your curriculum and it meets a need, that's very exciting. You know, you've thought perhaps you have to settle for this one curriculum that you don't think is really going to fit, but there's really nothing out there available. And then you come to this convention, you find out there's something here that is exactly what I've been looking for.
My wife has prayed so many times for direction on a particular area of one of our children's study. And maybe she's tried something the year before and it just didn't work. And I need something new. I need something better because we're really we're kind of grinding to a halt here. And then she discovers something. And it's so exciting. And it's so wonderful to see how the Lord blesses in those instances. And you thought there are no answers out there? Well, it might be a good idea just to, you know, hop into a homeschool convention and see if there isn't something that you're missing because we don't always get all the information that we need online. Even with the things that you do know—the companies and the curriculums that you are aware of—again, going there and being on site and in person, you can discover things about the curriculum that you just were you were not aware of. And that's also very exciting and can be a great blessing.
So I read so did about this the other day. It's kind of interesting. This is the way that Costco runs their business. And this is how they've— this is one of the reasons why they've become so popular is that they get you in the store and there's a discovery element to it. They call it a treasure hunt factor. And when you go into a Costco, there's always something new in there and they purposely move stuff around, too. Some stuff stays, and there's general locations, but then there's other times when they move it around. They move it into a new location. And so there's something elemental about, you know, happening upon something that you did not think was previously there. And then it's, you know, it's a better deal than what you thought it was. And I've never seen this before, and it's kind of exciting. And anybody who's gone into a Costco knows that you usually come out of there with more stuff than you bargained for, and there's a reason for that.
And homeschool convictions can be the same way in a more positive sense that you come out of there with more things than what you bargained for, but it's more in line with what you needed than what you previously expected. So that discovery element is very exciting, and it's another great reason why you might consider going to a homeschool convention. It's just a lot of fun.
The third reason that I want to give— and we're getting into the heavy hitters here. I mean, we've had two good reasons already, but these last three are probably—for many people—the biggest and the most important and the longest lasting, I guess I would say, is that the interaction that you have with like-minded people. And that's a huge reason why you might consider attending a homeschool convention because— actually this past weekend, again, I said we were at South Carolina. And we traveled— well, it's 13 hours straight, and it took us probably, you know, 16 hours, 15-16 hours to get down there. And it's always wonderful to meet new people. After— I think it was after the Thursday night session, or maybe it was the Friday night, but we went into Wal-Mart to get some stuff for the evening, and I just sent my oldest—well, the oldest son that I had along with me and two of my daughters—I sent them in there to go get some things, and they came back out and got in the van and they said, "You know, dad, it's so interesting. It's so different walking into a Wal-Mart after you've been at a homeschool convention all day," and I said, "What do you mean by that?" And they said, "Well, because it's like everybody at the homeschool convention is pretty much on the same page. You know, you walk into Wal-Mart and you don't know what anybody is thinking or what they believe, or if they're for you or against you or anything like that." And so it's a totally different dynamic.
And so if you've ever been somewhere where you get a general sense that we're all pretty much in the same boat, that's really refreshing. And there's a lot of positive interaction that can come from that. And that's one of the best things about homeschool conventions is that— I mean, sure, there's differences from person to person and family to family, but all in all, you're there because you all homeschool your children. And you know, that suggests certain things about you and about your belief system that makes you— kind of puts you at ease really with the people that are around you. And it's just really refreshing.
And that's one of the things that I've appreciated most over the years is—specifically as as a vendor—people coming up to your table, and you talk to them, and you get to know them and hear about what's going on in their lives. And there's a lot of similarities. You hear things that they say, and you're like, "You know what? I know exactly what you're talking about." And then there's some things that they mention that's like, "Wow, I've never thought of that before." But you're in total agreement, and it's just wonderful. It's just a wonderful thing. And I've seen ladies that come to the table and they don't know each other, but they sure act like they do. And actually I made this mistake this past weekend; there were two ladies standing at the table and looking at what we have to offer, and they just looked like they were best friends. And I said, "Did you two come to the convention together?" And they looked at each other and said, "We've never seen each other in our lives." But they said, "We know we're sisters." So that's a wonderful thing, and it's really heartwarming. Like one of my children pointed out, it's very different from what you get in the world at large when you're out, you know, shopping at your local grocery store. It's just that closeness and that bond just is not really there. You're not really feeling it. So that's another reason why you might consider checking out a homeschool convention this season.
Sean Allen The fourth reason are the sessions. And I almost put this— I almost saved this as best for last—but the best for last one is connected to this one—but the sessions are outstanding. And to me, you could just come to a curriculum fair for the curriculum, but you're missing out on probably more than half of what you could be getting out of the convention. The sessions may be the best reason for you to come. And you could just come for the sessions and it would be just wonderful for you. And there's so many different sessions. Like I said earlier that I'm a featured speaker with the GHC conventions, and they allow me to get up and to speak about issues related to parenting and homeschooling. And I'm so privileged to be able to do that. And so thankful for the people that attend my sessions.
But I can't tell you how many times I've had people come up to my booth and they say, "We weren't able to make it to your session because there were so many good sessions—we had to choose, and so we chose this other one." And I totally understand. Honestly, when I scroll through the sessions that will be available at, you know, each respective convention, I think, "Wow, I mean, how do you choose?" You can have three or four topics in one time slot. And I've been there, too. Like I said, I've been on the other side of the table. And Caroline and I are— sometimes we just divide and conquer. She'll go to one session and I'll go to the other. And sometimes we think, "We're going to go to this session, and if it's not what we expected, maybe we'll slip into the session that Caroline's in or vice versa.".
But there's so many good topics, so many helpful talks for you to go into. And what I've discovered over the years is that, you know, a lot of the things that people say in these sessions you've heard before and you probably already know, but there's something about hearing it from someone else. And it's the unique way that they present the subject that is so influential and beneficial for you and I. And that's what I've found. And then of course, there are those moments where they hit you with a lightning bolt. There's those— it's like, "Whoa, I've never thought of it that way before. I've never heard it put that way." And it's so encouraging. It just really is very, very encouraging. And we need those reminders from time to time in these sessions, really. They really fill that gap, I guess. They provide for that need in each one of our lives.
And again, there's so many things that you could choose from. There's there's nuts and bolts talks, you know, where they're giving you a step-by-step instruction manual for how to handle any number of issues. And then there's pep talks, inspirational, encouraging talks that people give. And then there's talks that specifically focus or hone in on a particular curriculum, and they're presenting, you know, how do you use this curriculum in your home? And that's amazing. That's amazing. Again, you can't glean that kind of information from a two paragraph description on a website. There's really no other place for you to access that level of detail. So that's the fourth reason. That a huge reason. And if you've only ever gone to homeschool conventions just to peruse the curriculum hall, you're really missing out.
And that brings me to the fifth and final reason, and it's the reset. The reset value of attending a homeschool convention. There's just an immense amount of encouragement that can be gleaned from these conventions, and you leave them feeling like, "All right, I can do this again. I'm going to lace up my shoes, and we're going to we're going to go at this thing again. Prior to that time, you've known that you need to stick to your guns, you need to stick to the program and you need to see this thing through. But maybe you're lagging a little bit. Maybe discouragement has set in. Maybe you just don't see a clear path forward and you're just— it gets heavy and it's hard.
But then you go to one of these conventions and you hear these sessions and you— you know, this last reason is the sum total of all the reasons that I've given you. Again, you've become better acquainted with the curriculum. You see a clearer path forward in that area. And you've interacted with all the like-minded people. And you've discovered all of these new things, and you've gleaned all this wonderful encouragement and inspiration from the sessions that you sat in on, and there's just this great reset that takes place, and you're revived. It's a wonderful thing. And it's not wrong. Or you're not a lesser person because you need that from time to time.
I used to—I'm embarrassed or ashamed to admit it—I used to... I didn't think too highly of the fact that my wife needed to attend— for instance, there's a women's encouragement day that takes place in our area every year, and she's like, "I've got to go to that every year. I'm so excited about it, and I can't tell you how much I enjoy that." I'm thinking, "You know, really? Do we always have to do this?" But then— which is a really stupid and ignorant thing to think. But after attending these conventions and talking with people and then also with myself even, you realize, yes, it's absolutely necessary. Actually, it's probably— she should probably go to three or four women encouragement days a year. You know, how often do we have to go to church? You know, at least once a week. Why do we have to do that? Because we need a pick-me-up and we need a reminder and we need a highlighter that's just kind of scrubbed over our life experience. And we're human and we have a tendency to let the flag trail. We have a tendency to kind of, you know, get overly burdened down and we're easily discouraged. And so going to conventions like this is a huge pick me up. It's a huge source of inspiration and it provides you, you know, the vision and the strength and the courage to continue on, you know, for another day or perhaps even another year until you get to the next convention.
And so that's that's the number one reason I would say why you should consider attending a homeschool convention. The blessings abound. And you know, there's a confluence of all of these factors. And when they all work together, what it amounts to is that you just feel like, "I've got this thing. I can do this." And you know, you can't put a price tag on that. You really cannot.
So those are my five reasons. If you've been to homeschool conventions before, you already knew all of this, but if it's been a while or if you've never been, I just want to encourage you again. You know, there's probably something in your area or if it's not in your immediate area, you could probably drive a few hours and you could find a homeschool convention. GHC conventions are all across the country. They don't like blanket the country, but they're in all the major centers, I would say, across America. And so if you can't find one of those, it's almost certain that your state has a local convention somewhere that you can get to, and it's okay. Tell your spouse— you know, it would be wonderful if they would come along with you, if you could attend it together. But if for some reason they can't, maybe they can watch the children, and you can go there by yourself, or you can go there with some of your friends and just make a weekend of it. You will not regret it.
So that's all I had for today. I hope that this has been valuable to you in some way, and I also hope to perhaps see you at some of the conventions for the rest of the season. We've got four remaining and I think they go up until August. And so it would be wonderful if you have an opportunity to attend a GHC convention, we are the Well Ordered Homeschool. You can look us up and find our booth and we would be delighted if you'd stop by and and see what we have to offer or just to say hello. So that's all I had for today. Thank you very much for listening. And may the Lord bless each and every one of you. Bye for now.
Thank you for joining us this week on the Homeschool Solutions podcast. If you're looking for show notes and links to all of the resources mentioned in the episode, you can find them at Homeschooling.Mom. If this episode resonated with you, we invite you to subscribe to the podcast and share on social media. Please use the tag @homeschoolingdotmom on Instagram. Also, we would be so grateful if you left us a positive review on iTunes. This helps our show to grow, and it also helps other homeschooling parents like you find this great resource. And lastly, have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? The Great Homeschool Conventions are the homeschooling events of the year, offering inspirational talks from outstanding speakers, hundreds of workshops covering today's top parenting and homeschooling topics, and the largest homeschool curriculum exhibit halls in the U.S. Find out more at GreatHomeschoolConventions.com. We would love to see you there, but until then, you can find us every week right here on the Homeschool Solutions podcast. Goodbye for now.