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By Maribeth Spangenberg
I love curriculum fair season! To me it is a revival of the joy and anticipation that I felt when I first ventured into homeschooling twenty years ago. Seeing all the extended vans in the parking lot gives me a sense of love of family and children. Being under the same roof as others of like-mindedness, automatically renews my vision.
The Lord has graciously blessed me with nine children, all of which, by God’s grace, have been totally homeschooled. I am about to graduate #4, yet I still sense the need to keep up the same excitement and enthusiasm for my younger children’s education as I had for their older siblings.
For a time, when I was still birthing babies, I had stopped attending these conferences and curriculum warehouses. The discomfort of pregnancy, the need for breastfeeding privacy, and the lack of a babysitter, were all contributing factors. I had also brought myself under a misconception that “I had it all together.” Having found curriculum that worked for our family, I became content to settle into a routine. As a result, ordering by mail became easier.
After a number of years, I found myself battling discouragement and loosing sight of my vision of homeschooling. Not that I had a strong desire to quit altogether, but I did find myself entertaining thoughts of what it would be like if my kids attended traditional school.
Fortunately, by this time, homeschooling had become a conviction and a lifestyle, but I still found myself floundering. The Lord gradually opened my eyes to my need for a yearly renewal. Just as in our Christian walk we need periodic revivals and faith-boosters, and since homeschooling is an extension of our faith and a desire to pass that faith onto our children, there exists a continuing need to renew our vision. I term this a “Vision Revival”.
Of course, attending curriculum fairs and conferences isn’t the only way to retain the homeschooling spirit and vigor. Reading homeschooling books and magazines, being a member of a homescholing support group, and consistently having contact with other homeschooling families, are also important. But these I consider as maintenance.
Regular Bible reading, daily devotions, and faithful church attendance are required for a consistent Christian walk. But God fearing, dedicated churches also see the need for yearly, revival meetings to recharge their members and to keep them on fire for the Lord.
Curriculum fairs in the homeschooling realm are the same as revival meetings. Just by observing and being around the sheer number of like-minded people, can give you that yearly boost and recharge to keep going. Attending seminars, listening to pep talks, researching and comparing new curriculum, getting fresh ideas on how to enhance existing curriculum, meeting the experts or well-known homeschooling authors, walking the floors, viewing supplemental material, are all exciting and can contribute to “maintaining the vision”.
Yes, it can be overwhelming, confusing, and even expensive if wisdom and caution are not exercised. But with prayer and previous preparation, these dangers can be avoided. Carefully research beforehand what curriculum you wish to view. Bring a list of books and items that you desire to purchase. Ask your husband or a close homeschooling friend to accompany you and keep you accountable. Express to them earlier, your goals and what you wish to accomplish, thus helping you to stay on track.
Personally, I like to make it an overnight get-away for my husband and me, finding a hotel that offers a conference discount with a continental breakfast. I find it an opportune time for my spouse and me not only to spend time alone, but also to recapture the vision that we have for our children through homeschooling. And what better atmosphere than that of being surrounded by others of similar thought!
The first day of the fair I usually attempt to accomplish most of my goals of purchasing, comparing, and viewing, dragging my supportive husband along, seeking his advice and valuing his input. Most times he delegates these decisions to me, but I find it very valuable to include him for “vision sake”.
At night we find a nice, little, inexpensive restaurant to eat dinner and talk about the day’s events. My husband, bless his heart, has come to realize how important these times are for me, allowing me to ramble and express my goals for each child as we share the joy of parenting together.
The next day I make every attempt to attend some seminars, especially if I was unable to do so the day before. Having previewed the speaker’s schedules, I know just what will interest me, along with times and locations.
Over the years I have come to anticipate and appreciate springtime as “curriculum fair season” and as a resurgence of the Lord’s vision for our family in the conviction to homeschool. Fellowshipping with others who share this vision, brushing shoulders with those of similar minds, hearing speakers who refuel my tank, are all used of the Lord to help me move forward and to stay on track.
“Forsake not the assembling of yourselves” (Heb. 10:25) was spoken by a loving Savior who knew the danger of going it alone in the Christian walk. The same is true in homeschooling.
“…A threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Eccl. 4:12b) – us, our Lord, and the fellowship of other homeschoolers.
If you haven’t attended a curriculum fair in recent years, I urge you to reconsider, especially if you are still actively involved in the homeschooling lifestyle, with more years of home-educating ahead of you. It is the surest way to renew your conviction and to have a vision revival.
Copyright © 2004 Eclectic Homeschool Association