What Should You Buy at the Homeschool Convention?

Will you be going to a homeschool conference this summer? If you’re teaching your children at home (or even just thinking about it), I highly recommend taking the time to do this — it will be a source of education and encouragement that can keep you inspired for the entire year (if you bring home the right things). Investing in your own education and inspiration is one of the best things you can do for your children.

What do you need to provide an excellent education?

  1. A vision for what you want to accomplish
  2. A plan for moving toward the goal
  3. Simple resources 
  4. Wise counsel
  5. Supportive family and friends

Do you have all these ingredients? If not, a trip to a homeschool convention can help. Of course, you won’t be able to purchase the supportive family and friends, but by sharing what you learn, you may be able to inspire them with a vision for the future that will help them move forward as well.

When I suggest that you may find much of what you need at a convention, I’m not suggesting that you spend a lot of money and drag home boxes of textbooks and workbooks for your children. If you’ve read my writings for any length of time, you probably already knew that;-)! What I’m suggesting is that you invest in some foundational resources that you can use again and again with your entire family.

Here are just a few of the books I’ve found inspiring and helpful. Wise counselors can be hard to find in real life, but many of these authors have been helpful to me. I recommend each of them without hesitation.

For Defining a Vision

  • For the Children’s Sake (Susan Schaeffer MacCaulay)
  • AmblesideOnline.org
  • The Charlotte Mason Education Series (Mason)
  • A Thomas Jefferson Education (Oliver Van DeMille)
  • Writing to Learn (Zinnsser)
  • The Marva Collins Way
  • C.S. Lewis—The Abolition of Man (and anything else he’s written)

For Creating a Plan

  • Peaceful Planning resources from Everyday Education
  • Flourish by Mary Jo Tate
  • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Covey)
  • Homeschooling at the Speed of Life (Rockett)
  • Getting Things Done (David Allen)
  • Purposeful Planning (Phyllis Sather)

Simple Resources

  • Classic literature and living books (this downloadable PDF book list for Excellence in Literature is a great starting place for classics)
  • Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt (good books for children)
  • Reference materials from Dorling Kindersley, Usborne, and other sources
  • Hands-on resources such as art supplies, musical instruments, and sports equipment
  • Brief “how-to” resources for simple tasks such as creating a high school transcript or coordinating a co-op

“I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”
― Ray Bradbury

Wise Counsel

I hope you didn’t think I’d tell you exactly what curriculum items to buy — I don’t know your family, so I wouldn’t even think of trying to do that! The resources above will help you discover the best learning materials for each individual student, and that’s the way that learning works best. If you feel overwhelmed at the number of choices at the convention, remember that you can always pick up a catalog and order later. For the moment, just focus on the basics.

True education- the kind that transforms and endures — is not an assembly line process, but a sharing of the joy of learning. As Oliver Van DeMille writes in A Thomas Jefferson Education, “Wise parents and teachers learn to inspire their students to intensive self-study, instead of requiring them to follow a pre-formulated curriculum… Force in learning kills the spirit, dampens the passion and destroys the zest and life of learning. Force trains followers, not leaders” (42).

As you browse the aisles of your homeschool convention, I hope you’ll see some of the inspiring works I’ve listed above, and take a few home with you. The time and resources you invest in your own education will be reflected in everything your children learn, so the return on your investment will be far greater than you imagine. Enjoy the convention!


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