As a Black woman, I tend to notice if I am the only person of color at an event; for the first few years of motherhood I wondered if I was just frequenting the wrong places when I would take my daughters to mommy and me events and story time sessions. My family and I frequent places that will bring value to our lives because of this my husband and I decided early on that we would participate in conferences and activities even if we were the only Black family or not.
The reason I take this stance is because I know that I can always take what I need and leave the rest. Read "Five Ways I Navigate Homeschool Conventions as a Black Mom" to see how I make the most of homeschooling conferences. With that being said, here are six reasons I think homeschooling conferences can be helpful for Black homeschooling families.
You will release yourself from a lonely bubble. When I began homeschooling, I felt alone. I searched high and low for moms who home schooled whether Black or White or any other race. By the time I attended my first conference I had made several friends who home schooled their children, but if I would have attended a conference during my first or even my second year of home schooling I could have possibly met at least one person sooner. Even if I didn't make a long term friend I would have still met real, live people who home schooled in my area.
There's no doubt that you will learn something new. There's no way for all of us to know everything, but we can always learn something new from others. Although many of my friends tell me I am a wealth of knowledge, I still learn new things when I attend conferences. The something new could be strategies for teaching math, techniques for helping your student be a better writer, or it could be something as simple as finding a new co-op in your area.
Conferences can be edifying. Not all conferences are built the same, but I can say that Teach Them Diligently was edifying. Although the speakers weren't speaking directly to me, their words were encouraging and reminded me that I am on the right track. They reminded me that I was doing exactly what I needed to do for my daughters. For instance, we are not book heavy although we use curriculum. It was good to hear that I didn't need to spend 10 hours in the books for my daughters to be successful. Even veteran homeschool moms get bogged down and question themselves so attending a convention can be good for homeschool parents no matter how they've been at it.
Encourages More Minority Families to Attend
Minority conference attendees are few since this true we can be the change that we want to see in attendance. There aren't many Black speakers at these conferences, but my first local conference featured Dr. Lainna Callentine. I didn't go to her workshop because it wasn't what I needed at the time, but nonetheless I was excited to see her. That's the thing if we want to see more speakers at these conferences who represent us, we have to be the speakers and take the time to attend. Just the same as I learn from those who do not look like me, they also learn from me; many desire to learn.
Exposure to New Curriculum
Exposure to different curriculum and techniques. One science program we have enjoyed in our homeschool is from Masters Books which if we had not attended Teach Them Diligently then I would not have heard of them. The thing is we are often led to the same curriculum that everyone else uses, but there are so many hidden gems that could make home schooling more effective or easier for you and your family. I also appreciate the speakers who share tried and true techniques that they have used in their home schools.
Get a Boost
It can reignite your passion to teach your children at home. Most home educating parents feel burn out at some point. I believe it is because we tend to box ourselves into certain patterns. Attending a home school convention can help redirect your mindset. I tend to go to workshops that meet a specific need at that present time. For instance, I wanted the girls to do more nature studies so I attended a workshop that focused on nature studies. The workshop gave me a boost, and we did more outdoor activities.
I understand the reluctance in attending a conference where you are the minority, but I also see the value in attending the same conference.
Veteran home school parents, do you attend conferences? If so, what's your favorite? New home school parents, have you considered attending a home school conference? Share your thoughts in the comments.