The day after the conference, we finally made our way back home. We left Motzei Shabbos, spent the night somewhere on the road, and drove in to the conference Sunday morning. We left a little early but with only about 4.5 hours of sleep the night before, we were exhausted, and ended up spending another night on the road.
I was not scheduled to talk until after lunch, and that left me free the entire morning to listen to the wonderful speakers. It was absolutely wonderful. It is hard for me to sit here and write about how I feel, but I can say that I learned something from everyone, some had more relevant information for our particular family than others, but everyone was great.
By the time my turn came, I felt very small, after all, I have only been homeschooling for 7 years, and here I was trying to present material to parents who have been at it much longer than me! After sitting all morning, listening to wonderful parents and their stories , their encouragement and advice, was I going to be able to stand up to them? Would I be able to help and encourage others as well? I hope I did! I asked my wonderful husband how I did, and he smiled and told me it was great, but then added that he is a little biased to begin with. 😉
I think I will write a few things that really touched me personally.
The first speaker was Mrs. Susan Lapin. She is a vetran homeschooler – she started homeschooling before most people in the secular world even heard of the word. One of the first things she mentioned was that yes, her homeschooled children DID get married – and at least one got married to another homeschooled child. For those who are concerned about shidduchim, that is a nice piece of chizuk 🙂 She basically told us how she and her husband got started into homeschooling. Her oldest daughter was “loosing her sparkle.” They did not know what was wrong, but they did know that school was negative for her. If they would keep her at home, then at least it would be a neutral environment, and that is better than negative. They did not know what they were going to do, but they did keep her daughter home that next year and instead of just a neutral environment, it ended up being positive. The next year all children were pulled out.
Mr. Shoshana Zohari was another speaker that I listened too. She was talking about children in middle school, Bar/Bat Mitzvah and beyond. One of the points she talked about was about how she makes being Jewish fun and exciting. Anything they can do to keep the excitement, from singing and dancing and playing on plastic drums while davening to singing with happiness every day at lunch while everyone bentches together. Yes, it is hard to keep the motivation on the parent’s part, but I think if we can keep the goal in mind, it will help encourage us during those hard days.
I just want to mention my thanks to all the people who were involved in making the conference and gave of their time and energy to create such a wonderful, successful event – from the organizing to attending, to the babysitting – which I think is one of the most important parts. It was wonderful to be able to spend time with my husband and not have to worry about the children and know they are taken care of!
For those who were not able to attend, or like me, had to choose between speakers for they doubled up on speakers for most of the day, I understand they will be posting audios of the talks online. When I find out where they are, I will BE”N post the link!