On Saturday, the local Catholic homeschool group I’m a part of hosted their 14th Annual Homeschool conference. Feeling down about homeschooling? Then go surround yourself with a hundred or so enthusiastic homeschoolers and see if that doesn’t empower the pants (or jumper) off you.
My husband and I had always assumed we’d send our kids to Catholic school. Then we saw the price tag for our growing family and wondered what other option there was. Enter in several families already homeschooling who suggested we give it a try. Having NO IDEA what homeschooling entailed I contacted someone from CHAPLET and started chatting with several moms educating their kids at home. When I walked into my first CHAPLET homeschool conference seven years ago and saw the crowd, I knew that if all those people were crazy enough to homeschool, I could be crazy too.
Now, five of my favorite conference thingys:
1. Meeting online friends in person! Not only did I chat with regular reader Jen, I got to meet fellow blogger Camille from Assorted Joys (and her adorable son Leo who I could’ve kissed A LOT but didn’t for fear of starting things off on the wrong foot. I was also terrified of saying her name wrong, as I have no other friends named Camille but I think I did fine or she’s just really sweet.) I have a history of making bad first impressions so while I want to connect with online friends, I’m also mildly scared to death. Hopefully, I didn’t talk too much or too fast or offend Camille and Jen with my outfit. (But if stripped roller derby sock are wrong, I don’t want to be right.)
2. I also got to say hi to Allison from Totus Tuus Family and Catholic Homeschool. She’s posting notes on her blog from some of the talks. Although my name badge said AV Expert, it’s going to take me a few days to upload all four talks to YouTube, (only because I’m not an expert in squeezing 26 hours from each day.) Until then, read Allison’s notes, or watch last year’s talks HERE.
3. USED CURRICULUM!!!! One whole room packed to the gills with books you didn’t even know you needed for pennies on the dollar! I’m only sorry I can’t share the savings with you….WAIT! I can! Do you know about Catholic Curriculum Swap (a.k.a. cathswap)?? It’s a huge online used curriculum sale. I’ve told a bunch of people I’d send them the link **cough**Camille**cough** and never did so CLICK HERE, read the site’s guidelines, sign up and search for that bargain copy of Spelling Power or scan the ads for awesome deals. “Wheelock’s Latin in mint condition with free vocab cards and grammatical form summary for $10! Who cares if I won’t use it for the next 5 years, I need to snap that up!”
4. Potamitis Publishing is an Orthodox children’s book publisher that sells the most beautiful icon inspired picture books. First, I should admit to loving iconography; for a non-Eastern family, we’ve got quite a few icons. If you don’t “get” icons, this whole gushy favorite will be lost on you. I bought the story of St. Christopher and to call the pictures lavish seems almost unfair. But wait, there’s more! Their story books each come with a read aloud CD! But maybe you want coloring books with posters and stickers? They have those too! (Am I angling for a sponsorship deal? Maybe. Or perhaps it’s just the first step towards healing the great schism. Baby steps people, baby steps.) UPDATE: View my latest post for a great deal from Potamitis!
5. And I need to squeeze in a few more of my favorite vendors: Arx Publishing, Hillside Education and The Catholic Daily Planner. These businesses are owned and operated by Catholic homeschooling families. I can guarantee you’ll get excellent materials for your money. (And no, this isn’t a paid endorsement, although for an Applebee’s dinner, I could probably write a lot more, hint, hint.)
If my favorites have whet your palate, search online for some conferences in your area. If your batteries need recharging, I can’t recommend it enough, just please, go with a budget in mind or things can get out of hand fast. It’s beans and franks around here until the next payday…but have you seen our new picture books??