Ah, homeschool convention season. The chance to peruse the newest curricula, hear your favorite speakers, spend time with like-minded parents, and buy too many books. A weekend at a Great Homeschool Convention always promises to excite and inspire homeschool families from all over – especially parents of differently-wired kiddos.
Whether you always intended to homeschool or wound up home educating due to circumstances, you’ve discovered by now that curriculum and philosophies are not one-size-fits-all. It’s easy to feel swept up in the excitement of the newest program or the passion of the oldest style… only to feel like a failure when you discover it’s not a fit for your child’s needs. This is why attending a homeschool convention as the parent of a quirky or different kiddo is so important.
For the last several years, I’ve had the privilege of speaking at Great Homeschool Conventions all over the country. I’ve met parents from all kinds of places, families, and circumstances, hugged moms who were crying and encouraged dads who were feeling lost, all different people with different philosophies parenting different kids, but all wanting the same thing: what’s best for their child. They know their kids are different, know they don’t fit into a box – be it societal or curriculum – and are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and a little lost about what to do next.
Whether they’re just beginning their homeschool journey or have been through 10 different programs in the last two years, parents of differently-wired kids often feel an immense pressure to find the perfect curriculum for their children. Being able to discuss your child’s specific needs with a representative of the program – or many times even the author themselves – is an invaluable resource that not every homeschool parent gets. If your child is struggling with dyslexia, ADHD, math, boredom, or just about any other exceptionality, there is someone at GHC to talk with about it. Rather than relying on reviews of parents who may not face the same issues, parents are able to get real-time answers to their real-life problems and make really informed decisions (and purchases!).
One of the best additions to GHC this year has been the Homeschool Help Desk, featuring Pam Barnhill and me. In addition to speaking on topics relevant to our readers, we spend much of the convention weekend in our booth, ready to chat and help find solutions to whatever hurdle you’re facing in your homeschool. Where else can you sit and each chocolate while getting advice direct from homeschool experts? Not only do I share my own experience in raising and homeschooling differently-wired kiddos, I can also point you in the direction of some pretty neat companies you may have walked past without realizing what a good fit they’d be! Personalized encouragement and recommendations, heaps of empathy, and did I mention chocolate? Totally worth the ticket price!
Sometimes the most encouragement the parent of an outside-the-box kiddo gets is simply from remembering you’re not alone. Sitting in on a talk, surrounded by parents whose children are experiencing the same issues, can really anchor you when you’re feeling adrift. Meeting and chatting with other parents, swapping stories down in the booths, even seeing another kiddo walking through the exhibit hall wearing headphones or carrying a dinosaur they’ve long since outgrown, all can serve as reminders that you’re not alone in your journey to homeschool a child with different needs. If you build a lasting friendship, expand your support community, or just share experiences in passing and never meet again, it’s encouraging to meet other families who are living outside the box. Coming together for one weekend a year with the sole purpose of learning all we can to do the best we can is something every homeschool parent should get to experience.
Related: Attending a Homeschool Convention
The shopping and comradery are wonderful, seeing the newest things and meeting your favorite authors is exciting, but at the end of a GHC weekend you need to be equipped. Each year I give all-new talks on all-new topics, issues that I see parents of quirky, 2e, and differently-wired kiddos facing regularly. Rather than promoting myself or a product, I am there to empower you, encourage you, and educate you on the issues your different kids are facing. Anxiety, executive functioning, twice-exceptionalities, many topics that are unique to the gifted and 2e population are what I am there to discuss. I’ve been there. I am still there. I get it. And I make sure that every talk I give at GHC is new and relevant to the unique needs of raising kids like ours, like yours. With homeschooling on the rise – and the percentage of those new homeschoolers who identify as gifted or twice-exceptional rising even faster – GHC has made sure to have someone there to represent this growing pocket in the homeschool community. I’m there for you.
It’s too easy to feel overwhelmed by all the choice, by all the pressure we put on ourselves, by how different our kiddos are. It’s too easy to think we’re alone in our journey when we browse Pinterest and review comments and see so many projects and programs we know won’t work for our differently-wired kiddos. It’s too easy to think a homeschool convention won’t have something for you, that you – and your kiddos – are just too different. These are all reasons why you absolutely should attend one. Find your tribe, find your encouragement, find your inspiration at a GHC weekend that promises to help you find just what you’re looking for. And come eat some chocolate with me while you’re there!