Have you ever been to a homeschool conference? If you haven’t, find one and go! If you’re in Oregon, start planning now to go to next year’s OCEANetwork homeschool conference. We just went to our third and each year has been better and better! I’m not even sure I could pick one favorite part. So I won’t. Instead I’ll give you my top 5 favorite parts of this year’s conference.
- Time as a couple
- Marriage workshops
- Hal & Melanie Young
- A consistent message across speakers- it was a God thing
Time as a couple
How many times have we heard how vital it is for our marriage to take time away as a couple? Time to enjoy each other’s company, reconnect, play, have fun, laugh, and maybe cry. Trust me, time away as just husband and wife is a key part of a healthy marriage. My husband and I choose to use the homeschool conference as a weekend away. We leave the kids with my parents, get a hotel room for the night within walking distance of the convention center, eat meals without kids grabbing at us and our food, and make sure to attend at least 1 marriage workshop together.
It may sound strange, but I think even non-homeschoolers could benefit from the OCEANetwork homeschooling conference. The reason is the marriage workshops. The weekend is almost like a marriage retreat wrapped up inside a homeschool conference! As I said before, my husband and I make a point to go to at least 1 marriage workshop together at each conference. This year we went to Nurturing Your Marriage While Homeschooling with Jon and Ann Dunagan. Ann reminded us that, “Fighting for our marriage in our homes is powerful”. Think about it, we know that coming from a home with a happily married mother and father can have a hugely positive impact on the lives of children. It gives them stability, creates a support system for both parents, and creates an example for what they should look to have in their own marriage.
What the Dunagans were really talking about is creating a Godly legacy for our children. I have been working my way through the Bible this year and recently finished 1 & 2 Kings. A clear theme throughout these books is how our actions impact the future of our children. Over and over again it shows that the Kings of Israel tended to follow the example of their parents, whether it was good or bad. This is why it’s so important that we fight for our marriage. Being left a good legacy can set up our children for successful futures; being left a legacy of conflict and apathy can make it hard for them to have a true understanding of married love and of the love that God has for the Church.
Hal & Melanie Young
I don’t think I can say enough good things about Hal & Melanie young of Raising Real Men. I’ll start by saying that I was nervous about going to one of their sessions. I tend to be a bit leery of those talking about ‘real men’ because in some Christian circles that can be a red flag for chauvinism, patriarchy, and male superiority. If you tend to find the same thing, don’t worry about the Youngs. That isn’t what they are about at all! Not even a bit. In fact, one of the things that stood out the most was their discussion of submission in marriage. They were careful to point out that the Bible does not say ‘women submit to men’, but ‘wives submit to your husbands’. It seems to be vital to them that scripture is not misused to oppress women and falsely ‘put them in their place’ below men, but inform the responsibilities we have as women and men.
Out of the 6 workshops I attended at the conference, 4 were put on by one or both of the Youngs. They were AMAZING! I took THIRTY pages of notes across those sessions. Yes, you read that right. Thirty. They are messy pages with big, scrawled writing, but my other sessions I took 1-2 pages of notes each if that tells you anything. I also bought two of their books. I would have bought more, but our budget told me to step away from the table, lol. Keep an eye out for a review of Raising Real Men and My Beloved My Friend.
Quick! Tell me I’m not the only homeschooling mom who LOVES to shop! Especially for curriculum. The conference had an extensive exhibit hall that we thoroughly enjoyed. It was great to get to meet vendors, get our hands on curriculum, touch it, and look through it. As a bonus, many of the vendors offer special ‘conference discount’ prices on their products. We were able to get books from Raising Real Men and Apologia at a reduced price by buying them from the exhibit hall.
The other great type of shopping available at the conference is the used curriculum sale. Think of this as a win-win scenario. You get to bless other families by buying their previously-used curricula, books, games, and manipulatives, helping them afford to buy the new things they need. You get to buy what you need at a much lower price, allowing you to better be able to afford your homeschooling supplies. The picture on the left is my haul from the used curriculum sale. All of that for under $70! The best find was Math-u-See alpha level student and instructor pack, together, for only $5!!! The amount I saved on just that one thing was almost exactly what I spent overall at the sale. How great is that? Talk about a blessing!
A Consistent Message
Probably the most amazing thing God did during the conference was inspire a consistent message across the speakers. I’m not talking about the conference them that you would expect for speakers to weave into their talks. This was something that came up in almost every session I attended, across 3 different speakers. To me that says God is sending that message out, because I highly doubt these folks all got together ahead of time and planned it out. That message was that unity in our families is key. Over and over again speakers said that we must be united, present a united front, and so on.
This is a pivotal point. As President Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” If there is division in our family, and especially in our marriage, that can spell the beginning of the end. Have you seen what happens when kids figure out that they can pit one parent against the other? It’s not pretty and will NOT work out for the betterment of anyone. What happens when a couple does not present a united front to their family about a decision they have made, like homeschooling? Family will often use that to drive a wedge between them. If husband and wife are divided in their family mission, the family is going to go nowhere, because they are aiming at two different goals. Do you get it? It is VITAL to a) be united in your goals and choices as a family and b) present a united front even when you aren’t in full agreement (because at times, you may disagree). This brings the family together as one cohesive unit rather than causing division, which inevitably leads to conflict. God was clearly choosing this conference as a moment to express this truth.
I really encourage all of you to attend a homeschooling conference. God can and will use it to change your hearts and your lives if you only let him. Next year’s OCEANetwork homeschooling conference is scheduled for July 22nd and 23rd. Put it on your calendar now so when the summer rolls around again you are ready to go!