In my new book on homeschooling I spend a little time singing the praises of my powerhouse local support group, Midwest Parent Educators (MPE). One of its particular strengths is the annual conference and curriculum fair. Free for MPE members, the show could not be more convenient or affordable. Here are three reasons every homeschooler should attend:
Finding community. Let’s face it–even homeschooling parents need some socialization once in a while. We need to know, up close and in person, that we are part of a great movement in education which has changed a generation. We need to know that there are others who love the fall, not because our kids will be gone half the day, but because we will be engaged with them ourselves during that time. We need to be reminded of the truth when negative voices cast doubt in our hearts about what we are called to do.
Handling currlcula and teaching tools. Even the power of the Internet cannot substitute for flipping through a textbook or holding teaching aids. Is the subject matter too difficult? Are the graphics up-to-date and interesting? Will my colorblind son have trouble deciphering half of the charts and maps because of the publisher’s color choices? Are the math manipulatives easily substituted with building blocks I already have on hand? A picture may be worth a thousand words, but personal inspection is priceless.
Learning new things. If you’ve opted for the homeschooling lifestyle you probably love learning. Conferences are your chance to learn something besides the multiplication or periodic tables (again). There may be a charismatic keynote speaker who gives you timely encouragement for parent involvement in education. A breakout session might inspire you to begin a book club, improve your marriage, or find creative ways to teach a subject which overwhelms you.
If you could see me now, you would know I am giving a “standing O” to Todd and Pat Kangas, whom I lovingly refer to as the grandparents of homeschooling in Kansas City. Their decades of efforts through MPE and other organizations have left a legacy of support and encouragement which continues to propel our cause forward. If you see them at the conference, be sure to give them a hearty thank-you.
Over 1,200 families attended the 2013 MPE Conference! This attendance does not include the 60+ workshop presenters, 100+ pages and children’s program volunteers, and representatives from over 100 exhibitors.