Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Annual Homeschool Conference Weekend

This past weekend was the NCHE Homeschool Conference and Book Fair in Winston-Salem. Amanda and I went this year for the whole thing, Thurs. thru Sat., sharing a hotel room at the Marriott with another homeschool mom. It was more expensive for me to stay there than at the Days Inn where I had originally booked rooms, but the convenience of staying in the hotel attached to the convention center meant I didn't have to drive across town late at night, deal with parking, etc.
This was my 16th year attending the Conference ~ we started going the year before we started homeschooling, and it was one of the things that convinced my husband that this wasn't some weird, wacky, fringe-element thing I had dreamed up! Some years our whole family goes, some years just Mark & I go, and some years I go solo (or with one child). I love attending the workshops, always gleaning some encouragement or nugget of wisdom from the speakers. Over the years, I have enjoyed hearing people like Sally Clarkson, Gayle Graham, Debra Bell, Chris Davis, Voddie Baucham, Chris Klicka, Reb Bradley, Ken Ham, Mike Farris, Diana Waring, Marcia Somerville, Mark Hamby, and a host of others. This year I especially enjoyed John Stonestreet, of Summit Ministries, who gave a series of talks on Biblical Worldview. Also, there were a couple of workshops this year directed specifically towards support group leaders, so I made those a priority as well.

A friend asked me yesterday why I would go to a homeschool conference since I've been homeschooling for 15 years now. I view the Conference as part of my "professional training & development". A homeschool parent has an important "job", and should be a learner right along with her students! There is a lot of information out there that will help parents identify how their child learns best and also how they can improve their teaching. For the same reason we study history, we can see the workings of God and avoid the mistakes of others through the recounting of their experiences. And sometimes it just helps to be surrounded by hundreds - thousands - of people who think what you are doing is important and share a similar vision for family and education.

Proverbs 15:22 "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed."

The Book Fair seemed a little less crowded this year - I haven't seen the attendance figures yet, but I wonder if the economy kept some people home. It was kind of nice to have elbow room when walking through the vendor hall - but I doubt the vendors were as pleased.

Amanda found a couple of friends and spent the weekend going to the "Teen Track" workshops ( the Worldview speaker that I liked so much!) and also browsing the book fair. NCHE started last year hosting teen activities on Thursday and Friday nights, and those have been a HUGE success. Amanda went to the Cotillion dance class on Thurs. night, held in the HUGE Pavillion Ballroom, and it was packed! Last year the organizers were hoping they'd get 20-30 teens to come, and they got about 150. They probably doubled that this year. Friday night was the Talent Show followed by a Game Night, also in the Pavillion. Amanda skipped those to go to the East v. West All-Star Basketball Games, played at Piedmont College, just down the road. Mark coached the East All-Star Boys team, and our Lighthouse V.Girls coach, Denise, coached the East All-Star Girls. The games were exciting and the boys game came right down to final seconds, with the West winning by just 3 points.

All in all, it was a fun and informative weekend - and I didn't make much of a dent in my pocketbook at the Book Fair.

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