Homeschool Conference 2013
Kip and I have made it a priority to get away together once a year, usually to a homeschool conference. In 2011 and 2012 we went to the South East Homeschool Conference in Greenville, SC. This year we decided to try a different conference- we went to Teach Them Diligently in Spartanburg, SC. I came away from TTD with mixed feelings- I am pretty sure we will not go back next year unless there is a speaker we *really* want to see.
#1: The Speakers: We discovered some new favorites this year- we loved Mark Hamby and Lou Priolo. Both were dynamic, engaging speakers. Debra Bell was also new to me and I really enjoyed her session on Raising Independent Learners. She gave me some practical steps on moving in that direction in the next year or two. We also saw Hal & Melanie Young again and enjoyed them as we always do. I really wanted to hear their last session on Saturday on Teaching Discernment but Kip was not feeling well & we were anxious to see the little girls before they went to bed that night so we left early but are planning on buying the mp3. There were several that we really did not enjoy, which was disappointing. Some were so completely off-topic or vague that we did not come away with anything useful. (if you want to know who they were, pm me)
#2: The Venue: The venue was very disappointing overall. It was in a run down area of town. The layout was very awkward. Many of the session rooms were quite small and we missed some speakers we wanted to see because the rooms were allready so full there wasn’t even standing room left. The only good thing was the food- we paid an arm & a leg to eat at the SE conference and the food was not good. TTD had very reasonable prices and local restaurants came in & set up food tents so there were several good choices that were not outrageously priced.
#3: The Vendor Hall: This was also a let down. So many vendors that I wanted to see were not there. Christian Light was not there so I couldn’t pick up our Language Arts for next year. See the Light wasn’t there and I had wanted to get several of their videos for Mary. I always enjoy Tapestry of Grace & Biblioplan- neither of them were there. Memoria Press, My Fathers World, Math U See, Usborne Books, IEW, and Michael Clay Thompson were not there either. I did spend some time talking with Sequential Spelling and looking at their new releases and products and was super pleased. As soon as the computer version is released in January I plan to get it- the price is great- only $30 a year for up to 5 students! I picked up piles of construction paper at Miller Pads & Paper for super cheap and all kinds of fun things at Rainbow Resource- including Life of Fred math and handwriting for Nathan and Savannah. No one had the devotional I wanted for next year, “Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing” (by the same people who wrote The Jesus Storybook Bible” and no one had Beast Academy which I wanted to pick up for Nathan next year. I did get to see The Logic of English & their Foundations program- I’ll be keeping that in the back of my mind for Savannah in case CLE’s Learning to Read isn’t successful for her. And I got to visit a little with Sonya Shaffer from Simply Charlotte Mason and, as always, she was delightful. Truly, she is just so gracious & pleasant- I enjoy speaking with her every year. Overall the vendor hall was pretty small & there just weren’t as many of the smaller companies there.
#4: FUN Things: First, I met Cindy from one of my favorite blogs, Get Along Home! She was super nice & I enjoyed chatting with her for a few minutes. Then, totally randomly, I saw a lady whose blog I’ve been reading for years & years. Probably 6+ years- I started following her blog when they were on their way to the Ukraine to adopt a little girl. They named her Lyra which I always loved & thought was such a pretty name- I was so glad when Kip finally agreed to let me use it for our 4th baby! It was neat to meet the other Lyra’s mom and talk with her for a little bit. And, to top it all off, I also got to spend a few minutes with a lady who is one of the same parenting boards I am on- it’s always nice to meet other board members in real life and she was super sweet.
#5: Next Year: Unless there is a big change, I doubt we’ll go back to TTD next year. I had three different vendors tell me how much they love the CHAP convention in Pennsylvania. Huge vending hall, great speakers AND the hours run from 8am-5pm unlike most conferences which go until 9pm or so. I kind of like the idea of having built in free evenings- CHAP is in the Amish country so there is lots to do & I think it would make a nice get away. We also heard good things about Virginia’s HEAV conference. Teach Them Diligently is putting on a National Conference in Washington, DC next year. I’d research the area, speakers & vendors carefully before committing to go to it but it’s a possibility- I don’t think we’d go back to Spartanburg but DC might be better. Right now I’m leaning towards CHAP.