*Note* this post contains affiliate links, see bottom of post.
I have been asked many times about WHY I like to attend the Homeschool convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, put on by ghc (Great Homeschool Conventions.) There are a few key points I usually respond with.
1. The Exhibit Hall is HUGE! I have never been to an event with a larger exhibit hall. I will admit that we are extremely picky about what we spend our homeschooling budget on. That being said, I really appreciate the ability to 'touch, see, browse' afforded at a convention exhibit hall. Most vendors will have 'sample' copies for you to look through, as well as either the author, or someone knowledgeable about the products to answer your questions and help you make the best selection for your child. When you have decided, they are happy to sell you a brand-new (not sample) copy, and if they happen to have sold out, almost every vendor will offer to ship it to your house for free.
2. You can hear from the ACTUAL authors during the speaking sessions. Sometimes I might be looking for a particular need, and if I'm torn between two options, I try to attend a session with each author. Sometimes you get the 'feel' of the writer from hearing their talks (even if it's not one specifically about their curriculum, but rather about a particular teaching or learning style.) I have decided both for and against particular books or curriculums based upon these sessions. Sometimes I can tell that while the information covered is what I'm looking for, the presentation style of a particular author will not mesh with our girls.
3. I really enjoy listening to the speakers talk about the different learning styles. (There are SO many methods of organizing your home education, and sometimes I listen to speakers outside of our chosen style just as a confirmation that a particular style is NOT for us.) However, some of the speakers are just plain fun to listen to! I really like Todd Wilson from FamilyMan Ministries, he makes me laugh so hard I cry! Other speakers are a comfort and joy to listen to, like Jim Weiss from GreatHall Productions! Jim is probably the single best storyteller I have ever heard. He is also incredibly cordial and talks with the parents and children after his sessions, and at GreatHall's booth in the exhibit hall (remember #1?)
4. ghc events are family friendly. While there are many other choices near us to attend homeschool events & conventions, not all of them are 'bring your kids' oriented. I understand that some parents want to get away for the weekend and make curriculum choices without their children around. I however, like knowing the option of taking the girls with me (or us, depending on the year & Kurt's work schedule) is a realistic option. For families with children ages 5-12, there is an optional Children's Conference (for an additional fee.) The last time the girls went, they stayed with us. If I wanted to attend a session that Kurt didn't want to hear, he would take them to the exhibit hall to scope out more "fun" school options, like CIA:CyberOps.
5. I am a consumer. There, I've said it. I KNOW there are companies that want our home educating budget, and at the ghc Cincinnati convention I have always found a solution to our needs, sometimes several solutions, which gives me more choices. I like choices. While I know there is a cry to support our state's homeschooling association, I will be honest and say that I get more out of attending the ghc event. There is nothing wrong with our state's events, they just somehow don't fit me as well. I also like getting away from home for the weekend. If the girls aren't going with me to Cincinnati, then they're having a fun weekend at Grandma's house. If they are staying at Grandma's house, I can turn off that part of my brain for a couple days. Trust me, after 16 years of motherhood, and 11 years of homeschooling, my brain appreciates that break!
6. It is refreshing to see all the parents with their families and realize that God has matured me some along this journey. Yes, I still get upset with our girls when their work isn't done on time, but I don't stress myself out about 'fitting it all in' anymore. I realize this is a journey, and while our responsibility is to provide the materials and guidance needed, it is up to God, and our girls, for them to grow. If I can instill a love of learning, and the skills necessary to learn, then I won't worry about covering everything. I can rest in the knowledge that they have their whole lives to continue learning. After all, Indiana has a 'Core 40' standard for graduation... not a 'they must know everything' standard!
7. The ghc convention in Cincinnati, OH is almost always in April. Yes, April, near the end of our school year... when I really need the encouragement to soldier on. When I need to be planning for next year, but not too much, and when Spring has *sometimes* appeared. Since we don't go away on a "Spring Break" vacation, this is a good time to pause, reflect, and regroup. Last year I was able to help out two dear friends with their booths, listen to all the sessions I had picked out, and still feel refreshed. The change in my routine did me good.
So what about you, are you thinking about going to a ghc event? There are four of them coming up: Greenville, SC, on March 20-22, Cincinnati, OH, on April 24-26, Ontario, California, June 12-14, and Ft Worth, TX, next February 12-14, 2015.
There are early-registration discounts available, even up to just a week or two before the events. You can choose to go as an individual, or as a family. If you're thinking about going, click here to view all the details!
*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to the ghc website. IF you happen to decide to purchase a ticket to one of their events, I will receive a small payment. (Know that it will be put to good use buying homeschooling supplies for our girls!) All opinions are mine! I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.