Confessions of a Former Conference-phobe

Joy Hakim, author of The Story of Science and A History of Us book series, was the keynote speaker at the 2011 VaHomeschoolers Conference and Resource Fair.

It’s funny how inadequacies and misunderstandings can interfere with normal progressions in your life. Take me, for instance. I have avoided many things in my life because of my fear of my own inadequacies. I almost avoided the greatest, most rewarding adventure of my life, homeschooling, because I was too worried that I was not up to the challenge. And for four years I avoided going to homeschooling conferences because I thought that they would make me feel like I was doing everything or some things wrong.

Last year I broke the conference barrier and went to my first VaHomeschoolers Conference. Wow! What an eye-opener! What an inspiration. It’s funny to me, because it was such a polar opposite reaction to what I thought I would feel.

I thought I would be intimidated by rooms full of homeshoolers who had it all together and were perfect in every way. And I worried that my internal measuring stick just wouldn’t measure up. I was nervous because I thought that being at the conference would make me feel like I was doing it all wrong and that my poor child was suffering because of me.

In point of fact, I came away from last year’s conference AND this year’s conference feeling amazing. I felt good about myself and I felt like the lifestyle that we had chosen was the perfect lifestyle for my family. All these rooms full of homeschoolers were here for the same reasons; inspiration, education, and companionship. There was something so special about being in a single venue with hundreds of other people who have chosen the same path. What a great feeling!

You can read about my positive experience last year with the VaHomeschoolers Conference on my blog: Inspired! By Martinzoo.

This year, I knew what to expect. I was ready for my good experience. And it was nothing short of fabulous. I got to see friends and acquaintances. And I saw a lot of homeschoolers that I’ve looked up to for years and tried to emulate.

My child is mid-way through his middle school experience. So, with high school in mind, I scheduled my first session with Janice Campbell, who was speaking about How to Build a High School Transcript: It’s Easier Than You Think! Thanks to her I am much, much less stressed about our transcript. In fact, when I came home and discussed the conference with my husband, this session predominated our discussion. There was so much good information and inspiration. There is a definite comfort to having some very real fears allayed.

One of the more important points that I learned was that your transcript doesn’t have to be laid out in the traditional way, with 9th grade first and 12th grade last. You can (and I probably will) lay it out by subject. For example, you can list all of your child’s English, science, math or history classes grouped together. In this fashion, a college admission counselor is better able to see, at a glance, your child’s strengths. This is important to me because my child is so focused on history that I want his command of that subject to be visually and immediately apparent to anyone reading the transcript.

The conference keynote speaker was Joy Hakim, author of The History of Us and The Story of Science. Ms. Hakim has been an incredible resource for so many homeschoolers who want to teach history or science in a thorough way but through a story format. This is something that really impacts my child. He has always viewed history as one long, fascinating story. So books that are written this way appeal to him. Ms. Hakim was so supportive of the way that homeschooling families have taken charge of their children’s educations. And I felt proud to be sitting in that audience.

Many conference-goers purchased books at the conference and had Joy Hakim (right) autograph them.

Her question and answer session, which followed shortly after lunch, was a small, intimate get-together with the author. We were able to ask her anything from her ideas on the strengths and weaknesses of current history and science curricula to how she came to write these books. We learned a lot about her, as a woman and an author, which really humanized her for me. No longer was she just a picture on a dust jacket.

I also very much enjoyed my session with Connie Lapallo. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. The title of the session was Teaching Literary Styles and Writing Techniques Through Book Discussions. I was expecting a more general type of teaching tips-type of format. But Ms. Lapallo delved deeply into how you can dissect a story, whether in book or movie format, to help a child think critically and really appreciate a story. I honestly can’t wait until the next time that we read a book together or watch a movie so that I can implement some of her strategies.

I came away from the conference with inspiration aplenty and confidence in what I’ve been doing with my child, which is exactly the opposite of what I had once been worried about. I can’t wait to plan for next year and the conference was timed perfectly to get me through the rest of our current year.

Inspiration right when I needed it most.

Welcome Robin!

With this post, VaHomeschoolers welcomes our new VaHomeschoolers Connection editor, Robin Martin. Robin has been homeschooling her youngest child for the last six years, while her two older children graduated from the public school system and have gone on to obtain and pursue degrees from JMU and VCU, respectively. Robin was a business owner in Chesterfield County for ten years and is married to a local attorney. She is active in her local homeschool group, a homeschool co-op, and writes about her family’s homeschooling journey at her personal blog, MartinZoo. We have admired Robin’s blogging and warm homeschooling style, and we feel fortunate to have her volunteering as blog editor for VaHomeschoolers Connection.

Thanks Robin; we look forward to enjoying your stories, resources and ideas for homeschooling!


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