Monday, March 21, 2016

HOME Homeschool Convention 2016 Highlights and Review

Proverbs 22:6
"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."

We had the honor and privilege of attending the HOME Homeschool Convention this past weekend.  What a thrill!  This 3 day event was jam-packed with presentations, workshops, interactive activities, vendors, and so much wisdom.  The program states "Our prayers and desires are that you will leave this convention refreshed, with questions answered, and with more resolution in your conviction and commitment to teach your children."  This mission was absolutely fulfilled through our family.

Here I will share the main highlights, what stuck out for me, how this convention has changed and shaped our views, as well as few small details that may help future convention-goers, or visitors to the Rockland/Rockport area of Maine.

The Location:
The Samoset Resort is absolutely fabulous!  The staff was friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.  The beds were exquisite!  We had a refrigerator in the room and they brought us a microwave within 5 minutes by request at no charge.  Our son LOVED getting to swim in the indoor heated pool!  It was so helpful being "on campus" for the event, and not having to worry about driving to and from another lodging facility.  I wish we had more time (and the weather was warmer!) that we could have walked the grounds and the coastline.  There are also many model ships and historic relics throughout the hotel that would have been wonderful to stop and take in.  Lesson learned for me here, stop being in such a rush and slow down to take in our surroundings, and teach our son the value in doing the same.

The Dining:
We had looked forward to eating at Cafe Miranda based on many recommendations for the place, but it wasn't in the cards this time around.  Our second meal out, they were closed but the doors were unlocked and they kindly made a recommendation for another local eatery that catered to gluten-free eating.  Our third meal out, a truck had just unloaded and filled the entire restaurant five minutes before we showed up, so we took a short walk and found a great cafe that had gluten free bread.  The places we did eat: Pizza Hut, 3Crow, Rock City Cafe.  All were excellent, gluten-free friendly, affordable and close to the Samoset Resort.  We especially loved Happy Hour at 3Crow, there was no one else there when we arrived and with $5 gluten free corn dogs and $5 black bean tacos, we were all quite happy.  Plus, after being surrounded by hundreds of people for days, the peaceful and hip ambience of the place was a welcome refreshment!  City Cafe was busy but had some great options.  My husband said it was the best Reuben sandwich he's ever eaten!  For in-room meals we packed along our trusty refrigerator oatmeal, and had provisions for sandwiches and many snacks.

The Vendors and Exhibits:
There was a wide variety in the vendors and exhibitors, and we enjoyed browsing them all.  From science experiments to nature crafts, there was something for everyone.  Of particular interest and success were the clearance/free areas, and the rubberband guns.  I enjoyed getting the hands-on experience of different curriculum, and getting our son's input and feedback.  There are several workbooks that I was inclined to buy, but he absolutely rejected.  I heeded the advice I was receiving in sessions and skipped those purchases.  ; )

The Workshops and General Sessions:
For the most part, we split up for the workshops.  I would go to one while my husband went to another.  We traded off who had our son based on which one might be of most interest to him.  This strategy worked out perfectly!  We took along a blanket for the floor, and a bag of quiet activities and our son did a fabulous job of simultaneously playing and listening to the presenters.  He amazed us at times when he would suddenly perk up and make a comment about what had just been said when we didn't even know he was paying attention!

Here are some of the biggest impact thoughts and ideas that I picked up along the way:
  • "Don't be afraid to make mid-course corrections.  They will happen; embrace them!"
    • This idea was brought up over and over again from several different speakers.  No matter how much work you put into choosing your curriculum and homeschool strategy, it may end up not working for you, or not working for your kiddo, or your family in general.  That's completely normal and is OKAY!  You can always sell your curriculum to someone else, and buy new curriculum, or find free resources if your budget is tapped.  There are ways to make it work and so many options out there, it's worth it to have materials that are fun and inspiring to all involved.
    • "What works for one person/child/family/season may not work for you."  Just because one curriculum is absolutely perfect for your next door neighbor or best friend, does not mean it is going to work for you.  Just because it worked for you last year, does not mean it will work this year.  Just because it worked last week, does not mean it will work for now.  Things change, life changes, people are different.  There is no one-size-fits all.  It may take some trial-and-error, but you can find the perfect fit for YOUR FAMILY at THIS TIME.  Once you do find it, see above, and don't be afraid to ditch it for something new.  This doesn't mean you need to be all willy nilly and helter skelter and change your course all the time, there is value in seeing things through to the end.  However, if things become a daily struggle, or if your child is bored out of their mind, or if they complete their entire coursework in 3 months, it may be time to move on.
  • "Instill a love of learning, a love of Christ, a love of family and the rest will sort itself out."
    • Don't try to be perfect.  Don't worry about getting it right all the time.  You won't always have all the answers.  As long as you keep the most important things as the foundation of everything else, the details will work themselves out in the end.  If your child loves to learn and is hungry to understand more about how the world works, they will take this with them out into their grown-up world.  They can easily make up for any specific knowledge or facts that they missed along the way when they know how to find answers and are motivated to do so.  When Christ is at the center of your philosophies and decisions, that paves the way for making good choices down the line.  When family is important, and the home a safe-haven, your children will trust that they can come to you in good times and bad, and that they will receive the love and acceptance and guidance that they seek.  When these 3 things are at the core, you and your family are set up for success.  Learn more at
  • Common Core- a Common Concern
    • As parents, grandparents, citizens, there is a social responsibility to raise awareness of the current "Common Core" standard.  When you learn what it is, where it came from, and how it came into being, you might just be shocked out of your socks.  I know I was.  If you don't like what you learn, get involved.  Set out to do at least one thing a month and make a difference.  Attend a board meeting, find out how your local government representatives are voting, write letters, share with others.  As a concerned citizen who values her freedoms that this country stands for, you can bet you'll see me in action around this.  "Learn how to think, not what to think."  Learn more from:

Tying it all together...

I find it valuable after attending any training, conference or event to find ways to apply my learning to other areas of life.  A lot of what I learned and my "ah-ha" moments from this homeschool convention can be easily transferred to my business as well.  If what I'm doing isn't working for me or my family, don't be afraid to change it up.  Maybe my "curriculum" (ie- field of work or company) doesn't need to change, but perhaps my strategy, philosophy or plan of action can use some tweaking.  What rocketed one of my colleagues to success may not be my ticket to freedom.  It's important to let go of the perfectionist in me, to embrace failure as a teacher on the road to success, and to enjoy the journey.

Preview of what's to come:
Mark your calendars now (if you live in New England) for May 21.2016 and the HOME Used Curriculum Sale & Expo!  Details to come.

Wishing you freedom, grace, and joy in all of your many journeys.

Yours truly,

Country Mama Hippie Chic
aka Brandi Schunk

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