Workshops at conventions! Seems like it’s the perfect place to learn lots of new information to help you get prepared. They are that and so much more. They CAN also be (if you choose to allow them) guilt inspiring and overwhelming, speaking from experience!
First off, there are two types of workshops. One type is totally non-vendor related. These are often done by leaders of your homeschooling association and other individuals. These individuals have no ulterior motive to sell you product. Their homeschooling styles may or may not agree with yours and you need to understand that, but they are not motivated to sell you anything. They may, however, recommend products that have worked with their homeschools. Again, you need to evaluate whether their style of teaching/learning fits your family.
The second type of workshop is a vendor workshop. These are greatly informative workshops usually product-related. The vendor may be teaching you how to use his product (and why). Even if you do not plan to use that particular product, you may still glean some valuable information, but you need to understand that they are going to primarily promote their own product. Contrary to how they might make you feel, their product may or may not be the perfect one for your family!
Here are a few pointers for your first conference:
- Be prepared. As soon as you can either go to the website, or if you are already at the convention, take some time and review what workshops are available. Think about YOUR school and what you and your students need.
- Be aware of who the speaker is and whether or not he is a product vendor. They may introduce “new methods” that might make you feel like EVERYTHING you’ve been doing is wrong. Try to be more objective and evaluate whether or not the “new and improved method” is just different and not necessarily better.
- Be open to new things, but try not to be too critical of yourself, your child/children or your approach. It’s YOUR school and no one knows or loves your student(s) like you do. YOU are the final decision maker for what works for YOUR school.
You have made a tremendous decision to homeschool your child/children. You know your student better than anyone else. If your student is learning and growing, then all is good! If there is something that is not working, then that is the area you should be looking to see what is out there that you can improve upon, but you may not need to get rid of the whole curriculum nor change all your curricula. Sometimes it can be tweaked or supplemented, I call it the “bend to fit” a homeschool situation.