This weekend I attended my first ever home schooling conference. I went with a friend from church who has been home schooling for a few years now. The second day of the conference, she turned to me and asked me, “How do you like the conference? Is this what you expected?” Frankly, I really did not know how to answer. Perhaps, it is because, I have not yet started home schooling. Or more likely, it is because I had such a hectic week prior to the conference, I really did not take the time to think about my expectations.
Now, that I am home, I have been thinking about my expectations and experience of the conference so I have entitled this post “Reflections of a Rookie”, here they are:
1. Inspiration NOT instruction: My original expectation of the conference was to seek knowledge, and find out tips, techniques and instruction on home schooling. However, the speakers whose lectures I remember the most were not on the “how” or mechanics of home schooling, but on the “why” or goal of educating children at home. This is encouraging, because since I have started sharing my plan of home schooling with family, friends, and our church community, I have encountered surprise, interest, but also a stony silence.
2. Faith AND Reason: Faith and a personal relationship with God are of vital importance, however faith without reason will not give my children the tools they need to combat the outside world. I would like my girls to be well-rounded individuals who can read, think, and reason. For the most part the speakers were encouraging, engaging and entertaining. In their approach, they valued goodness, truth, and beauty. Their lectures whet my appetite to rediscover the classics of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine and Shakespeare. However, one of speakers offered faith devoid of reason. My friend and I ended up walking out of that talk.
3. Advice NOT Ultimatums (a.k.a. What works for you): One of the benefits of home schooling is you can avoid the “one size fits all” approach to instruction and teaching, and can custom tailor the pace and curriculum to your child’s ability. So I was taken aback by one speaker, who peppered her talk by a litany of things I must do and buy as a Catholic home schooling mother. However, I must say the vast majority of speakers, did not dictate and direct, but offered helpful advice.
4. Discernment: All in all, I enjoyed the conference, and learned a lot. Like most of life, discernment is needed to make the right choices for my family. I am excited and terrified about my new job as not only full-time mother, but also as full-time teacher to my children. The conference allowed me the opportunity and time, to think critically on an intellectual level, something I have not done in a very long time.