I wrote the following article for the Greenhouse Report, the newsletter for the North Carolinians for Home Education.
Six years ago, my wife Dana and I wandered around the Convention Center in wide-eyed amazement. It was our first NCHE Conference ever and we had never seen so many homeschooling people, philosophies, books, and curriculum. That first year was life changing for us and helped us set the course for our home education journey. Since then, we have made the annual conference a priority and we are encouraged and challenged every year. This year was no exception. So I would like to share the top ten highlights of the 2010 NCHE for Dana and me.
10. Our hotel room card opened the door and there was no one staying in our hotel room. Two years ago we tried to save money and stayed in a crummy hotel. After returning to the front desk for the third time, the room card finally opened the door . . . but there were people in there! Recommendation #1: Don’t come for just the book fair or one day of sessions. Make it a priority, take off work, and come for the whole conference as a couple. Recommendation #2: Save up some money and stay in a nice hotel.
9. Buying our curriculum. Every year, the first thing we do is head to the My Father’s World booth and buy all our curriculum for next year. We love this curriculum, love saving money on shipping, and are glad to get the main, big purchase out of the way.
8. BrewNerds Coffee. Its hard to justify spending so much time in the insanely long line at Starbucks, but I usually do. Not this year. Instead, I found Brewnerds Coffee one block away on Fourth Street. It is easily as good (probably better) than Starbucks and the line was short. I also learned it owned from strong believers.
7. Meeting old friends. There are some people I don’t ever see except at the conference. What a blessing to give hugs and talk face to face instead of over e-mail!
6. Meeting new friends. This is difficult not to do. It is very encouraging to meet and be sharpened by so many other like-minded people.
5. Finding new books. The two book purchases I am especially happy with: What a Daughter Needs from Her Dad: How a Man Prepares His Daughter for Life by Michael Farris, and the first two books of The Peleg Chronicles by Matthew Christian Harding, Foundlings and Paladins (this series is supposed to be for the kids, but I sure am enjoying them!).
4. Helping wide-eyed first timers. We met a couple that was there for the first time. It was easy to remember what that was like and so we felt a little sorry for them! It was a joy to help them sort through the overwhelming mass of information and select a curriculum.
3. Being reminded of how important it is to spend quantity and quality time with my kids. Even though our family spends most our time together, there are two traps we must watch out for: 1) Spending a lot of busy time with your family without realizing they need also need more focused relationship time, and 2) Not taking the time to spend one on one time with your kids.
2. Renewing a godly generational vision. I especially enjoyed hearing Kevin Swanson speak on the importance of such a generational vision. The heart of home education is that parents are taking responsibility for diligently teaching their children to love God so that they can teach their own children. “That you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son” (Deut 6:2)
1. Spending time with my wife. We take all the kids (except the youngest) to Grandma’s house and drop them off. The time that Dana and I have together at the conference is always rich. We spend a lot of time talking, especially on our regular Friday night date to Macaroni Grill. We are inspired by what we hear and share what God is doing in our hearts. We talk about our family and discuss ways to grow and improve.
All in all, we are grateful to be a part of NCHE and the opportunity to participate in a conference like this. See ya’ll next year!