Homeschool Conventions: How to THRIVE (not just survive).

by Elizabeth Bennett
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You check in, pay your dues, and receive the goody bag. You square your shoulders and walk confidently towards the golden gates of the exhibit hall. Oh, what wonders await! Endless streams of encouragement, information, and THE perfect curriculum that is just waiting for you behind those doors!!

Then you step inside. You blink as your eyes adjust to the lights, colors, sounds, and the churning mass of activity. The noise of THOUSANDS of voices–asking questions, giving answers, and in deep conversation–accosts your ears and you JUST. FREEZE.

Where do you even start? Is there a right way to do this?? Start on one side and work your way through? Or dive right into the middle?
It happens to all of us! New homeschooler, veteran, or simply curious, if you’ve walked through the gates of a convention hall that probably happened either right on impact or 5 hours later.

OVERWHELM seems unavoidable.

(I preach this stuff, but it happened to me just last week while determining which handwriting book to buy!)

Sweet mama, I want you to know that you are not alone, and I also want to shout from the mountaintops that there is HOPE!!! Surviving a convention shouldn’t be the goal, because it can truly be a wellspring of encouragement and information–but you just might need a road map. I am going to give you a few questions and thoughts to keep with you (printable!HSMConvention3steps). But first, I want to challenge you to recognize your foundational belief on what a child is. This basic understanding must be firmly in place as we walk this road.

I have heard this presented in different ways from ALL of the major influencers of my life, but I really like the imagery that Chris Davis uses in Gifted: Raising Children Intentionally, which I’ll paraphrase:

1. Do you believe your child is a precious box designed by God? Do you believe it is your responsibility to fill the box with as much knowledge, wisdom, and understanding as possible in 18 years?

OR
2. Do you believe that your child is a unique creation of God, in whom He placed specific giftings and callings? That you were chosen to discover and unwrap the treasures, then to provide the tools and the time for proficiency and mastery?
It seems too simple doesn’t it?

Either

1. Your child is an empty vessel you get to fill with the right stuff.

2. Your child is a pre-packed treasure you get to unwrap, empower & equip!

“The purpose is to allow the child to grow up and express what God has put within him or her, this brings glory to God… Others are blessed, the child is blessed, and the Father is blessed. ” -Chris Davis

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. ~Michelangelo

I’m here to tell you that if you keep this perspective before your eyes daily, it will radically change your life, your relationships, and how you educate your children. Your mindset is likely to shift from “schooling” to “empowering.”

Now let’s apply this to your upcoming convention. I’ll break it down to just 3 steps and 5 questions. As you navigate the convention hall, each workshop, and your conversations throughout the weekend, remind yourself of them. Print them and carry them with you, write them on a 3×5 card, or if you are like me, write them on your arm so you are constantly reminded!

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 11.15.34 PMPrintable: HSMConvention3steps

Step 1: PRAY!

“Father, guide me to the people, conversations, and tools that will bless our unique family and glorify you. And may I be a glove on Your hand to bless and encourage others!” (Be ready, He will! You might want to take notes as He surprises You!)

Step 2: ASK

1. Does this_________ (philosophy, idea, book, product, curriculum) agree with the perspective that my child is a box to fill, or is a treasure to unwrap and equip?

2. Will this empower and equip me and/or my child in our unique giftings?

3. Does this feel restrictive or helpful?

4. Does this give me a sense of hope and inspiration or a sense of heaviness and discouragement? Life-giving or life-stealing?

5. Does this line up with Philippians 4:8? “Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy.” (The Voice)

Step 3: WAIT, then LEAP!

If it is the first day of the convention, wait to make major purchases! Gather information, ask questions, discuss with your spouse and friends, and then just take a breath.

But when you have made your decision, LEAP!! Go for it!! Remember that whatever you choose can always be adjusted. If it works, that’s great! If it doesn’t, don’t feel guilty, just adjust course and keep going or, if need be, change course altogether.

My friend, you were chosen by the Eternal to be your child’s parent! He picked you for each other, and He doesn’t make mistakes. Trust Him!

P.S. I am so excited to be at FPEA in Orlando this week! It is truly a place PACKED to the brim with treasure and AMAZING people. Come see me at the Homeschool Manager booth #1319!

Published by Elizabeth Bennett