Five Ways I Navigate Home School Conventions as a Black Mom
Home school conventions provide the home school community with the opportunity to get together with like-minded individuals (read: other home schooling families). If you have home schooled for any length of time or if you have interacted with other home schooling families, you should know by not that not all home schooling families are the same. Just like with any segment of society, each individual in the group has her own unique personality, style, and perspective.
Overall, I am a fan of home school conventions. If you want to know why, take a moment to read A Black Mom's Perspective of Home School Conventions. With that being said, I also have my way of navigatingplaces where I am a minority with little if any representation on the committee or speaker roster.
I am intentional when I attend conventions. I don't go blindly to see what may happen instead I go with a purpose. When I attended my first home school conference, I went because I was curious. I only attended one workshop, and I shopped the vendor hall. When we attended Teach Them Diligently Nashville in 2015, we went to meet our friends, to get more information about home schooling in Tennessee, and to experience a convention together as a family. Now with that said, I would not fork over lots of money for tickets if I wasn't going to engage at all with the conference.
Know Your Boundaries
Know your boundaries with workshops and speakers. Conferences have a wide range of speakers and while one speaker may be a bit too much with his agenda; another speaker could be exactly what you needed at the same conference. I tend not to attend workshops that speak about history or the woman's place in the family. I know my limits, and I know I may not see things the same way as the speaker does so instead of risking getting annoyed, I steer clear of those particular sessions.
Go to the RIGHT Sessions for Your Family
Choose sessions that meet a need. The one session I went to at that first conference I attended was about not idolizing your family as a home school parent. I attended this session because I wanted practical tips on how to not do such things, and I was happy to hear that a pastor was saying that there is a fine line with caring for your family to the best of your abilities and placing your family on a pedestal. I really enjoyed that particular workshop. As the years have passed, I now attend workshops that focus on subjects such as writing, nature studies, and notebooking. These were topics that I wanted to know more about and ones I wanted to hear about in person versus reading a blog post. While I am on the topic of blog posts, most of the speakers are writers or bloggers therefore you can check them out before heading into a session to see if they would be a fit for you.
Make it a point to enjoy yourself. Okay, I am optimistic by nature. I don't go to events thinking things will be a certain way. I find ways to enjoy myself whether I am alone or with a group. Although my natural bend is to look at a glass half full, I know that there are times when my optimism has left me questioning myself, but this doesn't change the fact of who I naturally am so I have to make it a point to ignore ignorance or decide if I want to help the other person out by sharing why their behavior is not acceptable. Believe it or not, I have been asked why did I remove myself from certain situations based on the behavior of a White person. It opens dialogue and if the person wants to learn she will ask and actually listen to the response so that she won't take the chance of making the same mistake.
It's Okay to Leave a Session
This brings me to my last point. If a session isn't working for you, leave. My husband left a session not because of ignorance, but because it was boring. Although some folks may see that as being rude, I see it as making sure my needs are being met. This is what conferences are about having specific needs met, and if they are not then you really are wasting you money and time (which is not a renewable resource).
Like all things, you have to make conferences work for you. We are all unique in the way we process things and the way we interact with others. Taking this into account, I believe in order to make the most out of any outing or situation whether you are a minority or not is to set your intentions before heading out.
How do you navigate homeschool conventions? Share your tips in the comments.