I went to the Jewish Orthodox Homeschoolers' Conference. I drove up with the baby and another mom who is planning on homeschooling her kids. This was a very weird road trip. I drove all the way up to Baltimore and down, with a stopover in Richmond. We talked all the way up and down, and probably still can do more talking! I have not shared a room with someone whom I was not related to since college. In both locales we stayed in houses with triplets. Moreover, neither me, nor my friend left out kids in care of husbands and just took off, nor are we planning on doing it any time soon.
The conference itself was very interesting. I went last year with the kids, but I was in a very different place now. Last year I was just feeling my way, trying to find a balance, working on curriculum and looking forward to hear from the experts. This year it felt more like a reunion. I met so many people who came the previous year, and made some new connections. I was able to evaluate information based on how it fit my family's needs. I even met a few unschoolers. Last year I compared myself to everyone else. This year I felt no need to do so.
Two things really stood out at the conference: the binder and the feeling of unity. We were given totes which contained a binder full of resources. There were websites providing curriculum, directory of frum homeschoolers, sample lessons, select articles, posts and presentations and much more. I feel like I have been handed a resource book to lead me wherever the homeschooling happens to take me next.
Secondly, the unity was simply incredible. I was sitting in the same room with people from all over, and from all ends of the orthodox spectrum. Every one has their own methodology to homeschooling, yet everyone there took an obligation of educating their children seriously, and into their own hands, so to speak. The openness of conversations, the flow of ideas, the energy and dedication made it easy to talk to whomever happened to sit next to me.
I wished that I brought my kids along, they would have enjoyed interacting with other frum homeschooled kids. However, this year it was impossible, with the baby and all. My mantra lately has been: there is always next year.