Reporting from the Oklahoma Home Educators Conference
OCHEC provides valuable information and resources for homeschooling families
This past May, I headed over to OKC to visit the Oklahoma Home Educators Convention. OCHEC has been hosting the event for over 20 years, and I gained invaluable information from attending several years ago as a newbie homeschooler. I’m happy I made it back this year because there were a lot of new players on the scene, and I had some catching up to do! Indy and I slowly strolled the exhibit hall checking out all the shiny new homeschool resources. It was fun to actually get my hands on some of the things I’ve been hearing about lately.
As Valerie Rose, chair of the Oklahoma Homeschool Convention says, “Let’s face it, homeschooling is not always easy and we grow weary. Attending convention provides so much encouragement. You hear stories from many of the speakers about their own struggles. You glean new ideas or methods to implement in your school day. You meet new friends or reconnect with old friends. You have time to share ideas or struggles with other homeschool moms.”
If you weren’t able to make it out this year, let me be your friend that did, and tell you about a couple of the new (to me!) things I saw this year.
When my kids were little, I had a collection of cutesy products for them to use. All the lacing toys, counters and manipulatives! Now that I have teens, I feel like I haven’t put as much effort into making Wilhelmina’s kindergarten as playful as the older kids’. I think a lot of the things I took time to teach my older children, I just assume the younger ones will pick up along the way. I had this in mind at the convention and was hoping to find something I could do with her that would be age-appropriate and focused on her interests. There was a brightly colored booth that caught my eye, which was hosted by The Etiquette Factory. The Etiquette Factory teaches things like table manners, the art of being a guest and writing thank-you notes in fun ways that feel like play. They offer everything from full video curriculum to simple materials such as placemats that explain how to set the table. Willa is enjoying all the pieces I brought home.
I also came to the convention ready to find out more about the new options emerging in the area of dual-enrollment. As a parent of a 16-year-old, I am starting to be at the point where we are crossing over to college-level work. More than ever, we all know we need to be smart when it comes to college value. Thankfully, technology is rapidly expanding the options our kids have for how they can receive an education. I enjoyed talking to the representative from TEL, which is one of several new programs in the state offering affordable dual-enrollment options for homeschoolers.
The unexpected find I can’t stop telling my friends about is an Intro to Filmmaking class created especially for homeschoolers. I chatted with the creator who is a homeschool dad with a background in film, and I was an easy sell on how film studies offer something for everyone. The course covers everything traditionally covered in Intro to Film, plus I think the selection of films in the course is top notch. We are enjoying working through this over the summer because it feels like adding a tiny bit of structure to something we already love doing together. `
If you have a desire to dip your toe into the home education pool, a convention is an easy way to hear speakers discuss relevant topics, and to see for yourself the products that are available. With most big-name curriculum companies having booths, it is a great way to speed date the different options. You can read all the reviews and talk to everyone about what they use, but seeing the materials in real life can help make final decisions on what to purchase. More than anything, my visit to the convention reminded me that there is a whole community of homeschoolers out there, doing it a million different ways, and we can learn a great deal by checking in with each other once in a while.
Oklahoma Home Educators Conference – http://www.ochec.com
Etiquette Factory – https://www.theetiquettefactory.com
Intro to Filmmaking – www.FS4T.com
Dual Enrollment Information – https://www.tulsacc.edu