I’ve already posted about my decision to restructure the History of the Entire World series, and my intentions to balance out all that researching and writing with a little more farming.

That’s two updates about future plans, but–as my favorite writing handbook points out –triads are always rhetorically effective. So here’s the third part of the update.

Next year, I’m taking a break from conference travel.

Since 1999, I’ve been going to conferences, speaking at educational gatherings, schools, retreats, you name it. I have always loved talking to parents and teachers (and fans of my history books) face to face. But there are three reasons that I’ve been turning down invitations for 2013.

First, I’m a little burned out. I’ve been doing conference travel for fourteen years. Conferences are hard work. There’s a dead day on either end for travel; hotel rooms, which are like little tiny Gardens of Eden when you have a houseful of toddlers, are less exciting over a decade down the road, when you can actually sleep and eat and shower in your own home without anyone sticking their fingers under the door; restaurant food really packs the pounds on, once you pass that fortieth birthday; and when you’ve been saying the same thing in workshops for one-third of your adult life, sometimes it’s just time to stop and rework everything from the beginning.

Second, I need a year to take care of things back on the farm. Home education conferences are at their height in the spring, which is exactly when lambing, fruit-tree spraying,pasture-planting, chick-hatching, and a host of other things are right smack at their height. We’ll be doing lambing for the very first time in March and April of 2013; I’ll feel better sticking around. My parents are older than they were; I don’t want to leave them to watch over the farm in my absence. And the kids are older than they were too. They miss me when I’m gone, and they’re not going to be home that much longer.

Third, I’m discouraged by the conference scene, which is becoming increasingly polarized. Those of you who attend home education conferences may have noticed this.

I love to teach; I love to help parents and teachers teach. That’s part of what I do. But conferences seem, increasingly, less focused in education and more on lifestyle: whether that’s back-to-the-earth, drop-out-of-the-system, or build-God’s-kingdom-through-home-schooling. Check out the workshop offerings at your nearest conference, and look at the percentages: how many of the workshops are dedicated to teaching and learning? and how many focus on parenting, marriage issues, family dynamics, church matters, theology, bread-baking, organic gardening…?

Let me be clear: I don’t pay for the hotels, the meeting spaces, the tech support, the insurance, or anything else for these conferences. If the leadership of a conference wants to make it an Education Plus Preferred Lifestyle sort of get-together, no problem. I’ll still come and talk about education.

But in the past few years, I have been asked, by multiple different conference organizers, to promise to NOT talk about certain theories, or certain types of education; to give any appearance of endorsing certain organizations, life choices, or philosophies; to swear I won’t bring certain books for my book table; to mention certain words. None of which, I should say, have anything to do with what I normally talk about: grammar, history, writing, reading, learning. I have been told that I am not welcome, in some cases, because I talk too much about the psychology of learning, and not about the Bible. Or because I have a theological degree and am obviously pushing a Christian agenda. Because my “professional associations,” however loose, are too liberal, or too secular, or too Christian.

And many of the conferences that put these restrictions on me don’t advertise themselves as “A Conference on Education For People Who Hope To Follow X Philosophy of Life.” They present themselves as “The Official State Home Education Organization For Your State!” or “The Only Education Conference You Should Attend if You Teach Your Kids!” or…

I’m weary of it.

I’m not sure where we go from here, to tell you the truth. I just know that I am increasingly frustrated, and that my particular set of gifts (I am darned good at teaching people how to do things; I inherited that from my mother) do not seem to be what many conference organizers are looking for.

So those are the three reasons why I won’t be at 2013 conferences.

Honestly, I’m hoping that in 2014, I’ll be able to speak at home education conferences again (and that this post plus my sabbatical won’t deep-six that possibility). But that remains to be seen. I do think there’s an increasing need for education-focused conferences that don’t require parents to affirm a particular set of beliefs at the door. The need for home education is only growing greater, not less. I may experiment, over the next year, with some smaller local workshops, and with some online options. I expect there will be some History of the Renaissance World-related events. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, though: if you want to come hear me speak before 2014 (or possibly ever, depending on how my brief exodus is received), you might want to check out my 2012 dates.

Showing 69 comments
  • Suzannah

    Would you consider hosting some sort of small-scale WTM conference at Peace Hill Farm?

  • Jenny Williams

    Thank you! This particular atheist/secular homeschooler loves the materials of yours that we use, and appreciate your skills as teacher and guider for those of us who teach. The goal with homeschooling is to teach our kids, and I truly appreciate the hard work you do to bring your teaching skills to the rest of us. I could do really well on my own. But with your materials, I do better.

  • Jen W

    Thanks for all that you have done to encourage those of us in the trenches, Susan. I share in your frustrations.

  • Jenny Williams

    It would help if I re-read my comment before posting. What I meant to say was “This particular atheist/secular homeschooler loves the materials of yours that we use, and appreciates your skills as teacher and guide…” Really, I DID get a good education. I promise.

  • Carrie1234

    As much as you’ll be missed, I hope more follow suit and force a shift toward EDUCATIONAL conventions and conferences. I have another 17 years of home ed to go. I’ll still be here when it happens!

  • Staci Thomas

    This is precisely why I will not attend the FPEA conference again, which is where I heard you the first time several years ago. It is so frustrating that the conference lectures are primarily about how to live life and NOT how to educate. These are supposed to be educational conferences; they’ve become something completely different. It is so incredibly frustrating.

  • Christine Guest

    I hope the Lord refreshes you, these sound like good plans.

  • Lisa Kanak

    I will be sad not to hear you for a little while, but I get it. LMK if you want us to help organize these types of events.

  • WTMCassandra

    Here’s hoping that perhaps workshops offered on the farm, with lodging at the B&B next door, might prove a useful future option.

    I would too like to see at least options for conferences that focus on ideas and academics, regardless of our other differences. I have made many friends in the world of ideas who might not share my specific religious convictions, but we can get along just fine talking about classical education.

  • Taryn

    Susan, you indeed have earned a break. Enjoy your family, your farm, and time at home. I think you’ll reap rich rewards from this decision, but that’s just because I think you’ll have more snuggle time with the family. 🙂

    As for conferences, there’s probably not much I can do to convince you to visit Alaska. (Let me know if there is!) If you ever do, the IDEA curriculum fair leans its focus heavily on education. The only true “convention” is very much centered on lifestyle & theology, but I’m not sure how wide or narrow their theology is. But I digress… I imagine the chance of you coming to AK someday – to speak or teach workshops – is next to nil.

    Being so remote from the Big Convention scene, I (and my children in turn) have benefited from your audio recordings and Q&A sessions online. I so appreciate being able to learn via audio or video and hope it can be arranged to continue being offered for the duration of your engagements this year and any you might take on in the future. Thanks for all the hard work you’ve done to share your passion & help others.

    Best wishes,
    Taryn in Alaska

  • Jolle

    Yes, yes, yes to more education-themed conferences! I used to plan my weekend around a certain homeschool convention (happening in a certain river city today-Saturday). Now I only go for one day to shop the curriculum hall and to listen to you. You do have a wonderful gift of teaching me how to go about teaching my kids. I look forward to hearing you again!

  • Teresa Williams

    Your perspective on homeschooling conferences resonates with me, a homeschooling Mom. On my home educating journey, which has taken me to high school (freshman) with one son and eighth grade with the other, I have found less and less in common with other homeschoolers. The polarizing you describe has left me feeling isolating. My interest is educating. It’s getting harder and harder to find curriculum materials without bias. Even if the bias is one I agree with, it’s still bias.

    And trying to bond socially with homeschooling parents is choppy waters. Everyone seems to have an agenda. You can’t just home school. You have to have the “right view” on the origins of the earth, attachment parenting, dating v. courtship or Christian manhood or womanhood or whether America is a Christian nation that we have to take back…

    Why is it so difficult for the homeschooling world to acknowledge that God does different things with each of us.

    Please keep writing. Maybe webinar for us. And love your lambs. All of them.

  • Elaine Miller

    I won’t be able to make it all the way down to Cincy and we will be in Charleston, SC a month before you are…….bummer!
    This is my second year of homeschooling and I am so happy that I stumbled upon your Well Trained Mind book and all of the awesome resources you provide and suggest. At this point, I haven’t been tempted to go to any of these huge conventions on homeschooling because I don’t think there is anything out there that compares to what you have!
    You do a WONDERFUL job with everything you do and please don’t let these “stick in the mud” people get you down. I give you ton’s of credit for taking the year off. I hope that I can hear you speak sometime in the futere.

    Take care and God Bless,

  • Elaine Miller


  • strider

    I will miss your seminars but am in complete sympathy with your goals as well as your frustrations. I have long been exasperated by the lack of meaty educational how-to at many home school conferences–that is the one compelling reason I have chosen not to attend any of my local conferences this year. It is also the reason I have chosen not to attend several of the local conferences in past years. I have also long been frustrated by the narrow theological focus on issues that are not central to the truths Jesus taught. Good for you for refusing to participate in the bickering next year.

    I do hope to benefit again from your wise teaching in the future. I hope your sabbatical is both restful and invigorating in the meantime.

  • Susan C.

    Enjoy your break! And, I always wondered why people like you weren’t at the conferences I went to….

    Go virtual, have your talks without leaving home. All you would have to do is tell the Hive. 🙂

  • Jana Colburn

    Breath ! Do what you have to do for your family and your self. I think even if you never speak again, you have made a lasting impact on all of us that will last for generation to come.

  • Paige

    We attended our first conference this year as a vendor. I kept hearing people complain that they wanted to learn more about how to teach instead of life-coaching from the speakers, so I think that you’re right. I haven’t been able to hear you speak in person yet, but I have listened to many of your lectures and I know that you’ll be greatly missed in 2013. Enjoy the time off, but I still hold out hope that I’ll be able to see you speak in person some day :).

  • Jennifer

    I am new to the homeschooling scene and have only been to a couple of conferences, but I def. have noticed what you mentioned. It is frustrating as a parent- I can imagine how frustrating it must be for you as a speaker. My husband and I went to every one of your sessions last year in Greenville and it was so inspiring to us. I’m sad you won’t be at conferences next year but I certainly understand. Thank you for the blessing you have been to us!

  • Jennifer

    One more thing- I love the idea of a small scale WTM conference- that would be awesome!!!! 🙂

  • michelle garza

    I was at one of those so-called “homeschooling conferences”. You were one of the only presenters that presented actual information on education. Some of the other presenters were so terrible I found myself wishing I could politely find a way to slip out of the room. I am already homeschooling so I don’t need a lecture on why I should be homeschooling or how evil the public school system has become. Don’t get me wrong, I am a Christian and I do home school so that I can pass on my personal values to my children, but when I go to a home school convention I go because I am mostly concerned that my kids are receiving the best education that I can possibly give them. I thank you for helping me get closer to that goal. You will be missed on the convention circuit by all of us moms who are striving to be more effective teachers.

  • Joy dozier

    Good for you, Susan!! I put my career in medicine on the back burner while I’m in this homeschooling journey.

    Use technology to help get your ideas across without having to leave the baby chicks or tomatoes.

    Big, big fan of quality education for our future generation. I hope homeschoolers help lead the way in that.

    All the best!

    Joy Dozier

  • Colleen in NS

    I hope you thoroughly enjoy your sabbatical and all the changes and having more time with your family.

    I can’t imagine that this sabbatical will deep-six any possibility of you resuming educational workshops, though.

    If you ever came up here for a family vacation, I’d be happy to help you experiment with a local-to-me small workshop…I’m sure I could find interested people now – there’s a new crop of homeschooling parents growing around here. 😀

  • Rosemary Laberee

    The divisive dogma of some home education prophets is creating a permanent underclass of Christians – Christians who do not know how to think and Christians who are afraid of knowledge. I understand the struggle against these extremists and your exit is just one of many regrettable consequences of it.
    History has so much to teach us on this front. Christians were wrong about a flat earth and wrong about the solar system.
    The greatest paradox in this is that Christians who do not need to have every single aspect of life on this blue planet explained from a Biblical perspective actually demonstrate greater faith – the ability to believe and trust and know, without seeing. Once everything has been defined and explained (without regard for accuracy) who needs faith?

  • Brigit

    Home education wasn’t on my radar until my 1st was born 3 and 1/2 years ago with a neurological condition (ACC) that will likely make learning more challenging. Now it’s hard to imagine educating my kids any other way. Two weeks ago I registered to attend my first home education conference. I chose Cincinnati because I admire your work, hope to use TWTM with my kids and wanted to hear you speak. I am so grateful. Thank you!

  • Pamela

    Oh, my goodness, you’ve nailed the issue!

    My husband and I are brand new to the idea of homeschooling (our kids are 3 and 1), and, to simply learn a little about homeschooling, we signed up for the upcoming CA conference at which you’re speaking. Oh wow — were we floored when we got the email about the workshop topics! Yikes. (It doesn’t help that my hubby has a Westminster Sem degree plus an OT Masters. He most certainly will not be attending any OT talks at this conference.)

    I digress…. Yes, we have noticed the exact same polarizing crap you have, and it has made us go in search of non-Christian curriculum, even though we’re devout Christians (Reformed, to be exact).

    We hope to meet you at the CA conference! Thanks for all you do. We look forward to learning from your expertise.

  • Bev

    I’ve never been to a homeschool conference but I have listened to all of your audio lectures and enjoy them! I think what you are choosing to do is awesome and wish you the best!

  • Suzanne

    I heard you speak about six years ago in Atlanta; it’s one of the few times I attended the conference seminars because you were teaching about teaching — so novel! I’d love for our conferences to be focused on nuts and bolts of educating our children.

  • Ann Louise Santos

    Susan, reading your marvelous books gave me the confidence to start educating my two children at home. I’ve never attended a home schooling conference and don’t intend to (not that there are many options for this in northern Vermont) since the majority of conference offerings don’t seem to remotely relate to our lives and education goals. You’re right to follow your instincts.

  • Jon

    I will be attending my first home education conference this summer (Phoenix, hot – err). I hope they focus on education, I’ll have to look at the topics again. I just started teaching my daughter to read recently, and will, but haven’t yet, read your book(s), still so much to learn!

    It would be nice to understand the psychology of it all, it definitely makes it easier to understand where the child is coming from.

    Luckily in this day and age one doesn’t need an actual conference to go to, since we have the internet. I suppose I will be looking up your audio files (and video files, if you have them). Loved your interviews with Laurette Lynn (sp).

  • Mark

    Susan, very well written! We hope you can come speak at the Homeschool Expos in 2014 after your break!

  • Jules

    As a public school teacher, I wish my school system would hire your for some professional learning events.

  • Denise

    Your third reason is precisely why you were never invited to our state conference..and it is very nauseating.

  • kalanamak

    Please consider virtual conferences. Saves gas, saves time, saves wear and tear on all of us.

  • Debbie

    I wish I knew where this new direction will take you. (It sounds like you wish you knew, too!)

    I JUST found TWTM a few months ago! It feels a lot like home – a place where education is pure joy and where people are welcome, even if they’re not all alike. You’ve given me courage that I can homeschool (and even be a Christian and live on a farm) without succumbing to stereotypes that don’t sit well with my faith OR with my beliefs about education. Our family’s real values will be apparent as we live them.

    I hope this doesn’t mean you’re going away. I hope it means that somehow, we get more of your teaching!

  • Melani

    I so agree with you! I went to a conference last year; it felt like youth convention for parents. (And I don’t mean that as a compliment.) Though I am a Christian, I started to wonder if I should find a secular conference to attend – just hoping it might be focused on education instead of all that other stuff. I hope that you enjoy your break, and that conferences will emerge by 2014 that are education -focused.

    I was fortunate to attend the WTM conference a few years ago…it was wonderful. Do it again, do it again! 🙂

  • Jeannie

    For the past few years, your sessions are the only reason I have attended the HS convention in Ohio. I only buy curriculum from the Peace Hill booth or from those selling writing paper or art supplies. I, too, am discouraged by the emphasis placed on lifestyle and strict religion- based curriculum. I was speaking to my husband tonight about whether or not to spend the money again this weekend just for your sessions. Unfortunatley, we decided not to because the admission goes to support so many other causes and speakers we find confining and judgemental. So, while I have sincerely enjoyed and learned from your teachings, those will have to continue through your writing. OK! I would rather send my money to Peace Hill anyway. Hope you find enjoyment in your increased time on the farm!

  • Janet D

    While I know from experience that there are additional advantages and benefits from attending a live-in-the-flesh conference presentation versus ‘just’ an on-line one, I’d like to encourage you to offer some on-line Webinars (or some such thing) in 2013.

    WTM’ers are spread across the country (world?), and the extremist Christians (there’s no other word for them…Jesus certainly didn’t subject people to litmus tests before interacting with them) are trying to control the homeschool world by restricting conference access to those speakers who subject themselves to theological strip-searches.

    I’d like to be optimistic, but the only place I can realistically see going from ‘here’ is to bypass the controlled delivery model of conferences.

    You certainly have far more patience than I would have had in dealing with this, and I think you demonstrate a Christianity worth emulating.

    Best wishes and prayers to you in finding the path forward.

  • Natalie Norman

    This is exactly why I didn’t attend our state homeschool conference this year. I just couldn’t find enough classes that would actually improve the instruction my children are receiving. And, thanks to the WTM boards, I don’t really need to go curriculum fairs anymore. 🙂

    I learned more at your writing seminar in February than I would have at three years worth of homeschool conferences. I also appreciated how professional your seminar was. I think I’ll be looking for more specialized seminars and speaking engagements from now on.

  • Laurie

    You need a life of your own. Your work will always be with us. Take care of your parents and younger children, and do the writing work you love. We will all survive.

  • Mindy

    And this blog post sums up why I’m disappointed to hear that you won’t be speaking! You are one of the clearest thinkers and communicators with a great balance on the issues. (I figure if you get such heat from both sides, you must be pretty balanced!) I heard you speak in Seattle 10 years ago when I was first starting homeschooling and I have not wavered much from the principles that you taught there. (Of course, you didn’t warn me how darn fast they would go from grammar stage to rhetoric!!!) Keep up the great work, Susan!!

  • Chris in VA

    Now I REALLY wish I could’ve gone to Cinci this weekend. I probably only have one or two years left to homeschool, but I still hope I’ll hear (and meet) you one day. You must get tired of hearing how you are an inspiration, but…you are.
    Every blessing to you as you balance work and…well, work. LOL
    Your family is really lucky to have a mom/wife/child who puts work into its proper perspective.
    We’ll be expecting pics of the lambies at the Hive…;-)


    Prof Bauer,I empathize with you.BY MY EXPERIENCES,THERE IS TIME TO FOCUS ON THE FAMILY,AND TIME TO FOCUS ON ONE’S CAREER! THERE IS A TIME AND PLACE FOR EVERYTHING—like even my grandparents used to advise me!!

  • Holly IN

    I totally agree with SWB on these issues after attending conference for the last 15 years. I quit going to Indianapolis convention 5 years ago due to the various reasons SWB said in her paragraph about marriage issues, parenting issues and lifestyles. I started attendig Cincinnati Midwest convention 4 years ago. I enjoyed this conference every year except for last year. While I did learn alot last year but I was upset with the divide over Ken Hamm. I didn’t take any sides on this issue but happened to get suckered into the debate. I was told to take sides on this issue. It was enough to leave a sour taste in my mouth. I am still a fan of Ken Hamm and love the midwest convention. I am in Cincy right now for the convention and I have to say I am shocked the attendance is down this year.

    I really do hope SWB will rest well during her Sabbatical from conventions. I do hope she will consider small host houses maybe perhaps her farm?? I know she did this back in late winter. I would gladly go to that istead of the convention next year. 😀 😉

    Anyway enjoy your rest during 2013, you will be greatly missed.

    Holly IN

  • Wanda

    I attended a conference almost 10 years ago, and never did again. Maybe you’ll start a trend! : )

  • HSMom2One

    Thank you for putting thoughts into words so beautifully in this post. These issues with hs conventions are so saddening – especially for those of us out there that are Christian homeschoolers who believe in sticking to issues that unite rather than separate all of us. The extremists not only make it hard for the majority of us who want to learn how to be excellent educators, but they also promote an ugly picture of what homeschooling and even Christianity is all about. Like you I’m weary of it all, and I’m embarrassed.

    I’m extremely thankful for you, Susan. I’ve learned such good things from you over the years, and admire you both as a professional educator and author, as well as a woman of faith. Your new goals are a great example for all of us. We need to remember to pull back when life become too focused and intense so that we can feed and nourish our souls. I teach at a school and at home, and this reminds me that when I choose to rekindle my passion for life as a whole, then I become a much better teacher. Thanks for reminding us of these very important things.

    Blessings as you move along on your amazing journey,

  • Education Explorers

    We are just finishing up our first year of homeschooling. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing you speak at the Greenville Conference in 2011 and found it enormously helpful. As we prepared to go back to the conference to purchase curricula for next year, we were disgusted by the lack of “education/teaching” seminars. We were prepared to dodge and weave around vendors who were selling an “agenda” more so than a curricula (IMO). However, it was extremely disappointing to find virtually nothing that would be of use to “teach” your child at an “education” conference! I don’t blame you a bit for being frustrated. We had quite a “rant” about it ourselves. The “polarization” to which you referred isolates people, like myself, who just want to offer their children the best possible education. The push to dictate to a speaker what they can or cannot say/do etc., seems to be at odds with the whole fundamental foundation of homeschooling–the freedom of the individual family to decide the what’s and how’s to educate your own child. This is NOT a good direction for homeschooling.

  • Monica Sharman

    I appreciate your thinking and decision-making. Sounds like an excellent plan.

    When our oldest child was 4, I attended a statewide home education conference. I never went back. Besides, The Well-Trained Mind was enough for multiple conferences, and it didn’t have the other stuff that made me not want to attend future conferences. (Thanks.)

    I also wanted to say how much I appreciate the Barbara Tuchman excerpt on your home page.

  • Tracy

    As a new homeschooling mom of a 4th grader but a long time teacher and school administrator, I’ve been really disheartened by the lack of “academic homeschoolers” in our area. I’m homeschooling because it is the best educational choice for my son and no other agenda, reason or philosophy. Some days we are unschoolers others we are classical. Some weeks we are very eclectic, others not so much. Regardless of philosophy, it is always about the educational opportunity. I hope that your break is refreshing and that it encourages others to come out of the woodwork and say “Yeah, but my philosophy is first and foremost an awesome educational experience!”

  • Cathy

    I hope you have a great year of respite from conventions! Enjoy your family and your farm and your writing! I look forward to hearing you speak at some event in the future. My children and I are all enjoying your books. My 4yo. asks for to hear a SOTW audiobook the second he gets into the van, even though he isn’t doing formal school work yet. Blessings upon you and yours.

  • MSPolly

    I’m an avid reader of your blog and own just about everything you have written thus far. 🙂 I COMPLETELY agree with this post. You have so succinctly put to words my own frustrations.

    I have homeschooled for 15 years and it has been many years since I attended my last *convention* for the very reasons you listed. I will be anxiously awaiting to see what your next move is, but like others I wish you the best during your sabbatical. You give so much of yourself to all of us, I know your family will enjoy having you to themselves.

    Thank you so much for all you do and who you are. You have my utmost respect and set a wonderful example.

  • Ginger

    Susan, I’m glad I got to hear you in Atlanta one time, and I hope your sabbatical is the refresher that you need and want. Changes of scenery are important. All the best, and I’ll continue to read you here. Thanks

  • Shannon in TN

    I hate that you won’t be at conferences next year; however, I completely understand your reasoning. I can only hope that some of your local workshops (or perhaps another writer’s workshop weekend -hint, hint) will work out for me for next year.

  • GVA

    I’m with you. I’m less and less comfortable with the homeschool community at large, and middle age and the loss of my parents has made me want to focus on activities that I enjoy and where I can make a real difference. I know other homeschool speakers and vendors who have stepped away because of feeling “out,” the financial drain of doing something that really doesn’t affect their bottom line, and the desire to focus more on what they love. It will be interesting to see what the homeschool convention world looks like in five years.

  • Jim Stobaugh

    I will miss you Susan. We all will miss you. Your absence will impoverish us all. I hope you will indeed return in 2014 and I will look forward to receiving even more anointed teachings! While I reject much of what my old professor at Harvard, Bernard Bailyn, proposed, he was right in suggesting that our metaphysics must never be overwhelmed, but must always be informed by, our epistemology. You always provide both with aplomb, grace, and generosity. Karen and I send our prayerful regards.

  • anne phythyon

    “But conferences seem, increasingly, less focused in education and more on lifestyle”

    Amen to these words you have written here Susan! I am a homeschooling mom in NC. I need help with education and teaching – I am NOT looking for a lifestyle coach!!!

    Here in NC right in the Triangle area. You want to come here and try a small scale workshop I will personally lead a group to help you get it off the ground. I PROMISE!!!


  • Sherry

    Thank you for all you have done. You have helped me homeschool 4 children for the last 10 years and I want you to know that I appreciate it. I am also frustrated with the conferences. I left the Midwest Homeschool conference early mostly because there were so few teach the teacher classes which is what I really need even after ten years. I would love to attend a small conference similar to the WTM conference you did in Williamsburg several years ago. Thanks again and enjoy the farm!

  • Sara

    Well said, Susan. I came to 3 of the workshops you offered adjacent to the HEAV convention 2 years ago. I alternated between your workshops and the curriculum sale. I was so happy to get to hear you in person, and I admired (and still do) your courage to offer those workshops. I had no desire whatsoever to go to any of the offerings at the convention; I was too disgusted. I drove down from Northern Virginia just to hear you, as well as avail myself of the opportunity to look at a bunch of curriculum in one fell swoop. I had a marvelous time!

  • Marsha

    My husband and I ultimately decided against homeschooling after a few years because it was so incredibly difficult to build/find a community and we found the experience horribly, destructively isolating as a result. We were either too Christian or not Christian enough, or not the right kind of Christian, too structured or too unstructured, too egalitarian in our marriage or too husband-led (yes, this last was the subject of intense pre-playgroup questioning). I still mourn the loss of what I had imagined our family organization would be, but less so now that nearly five years have passed and we’ve found ourselves in a supportive community that regards us as only slightly eccentric for the educational enriching and augmenting we do at home.

    I always hoped I’d hear you speak in person one day. I’ll not let that hope go just yet 🙂

  • pamama

    You were the beginning of our homeschool journey 10 years ago when I read The Well Trained mind and consequently found a conference where you were going to speak just to get inspiration! Since then we have used your books (as well as your moms) and I can’t say how grateful I am for them.

    I haven’t been to a Homeschool Convention for 6 years – so this year I searched you out again and headed from PA to OH this past weekend. I totally agree with what you said – I was there to get the dirt on academics and it wasn’t prevalent.

    I didn’t get a chance to talk to you at the conference (I had my chance, but you looked beat…or maybe that was how I felt) however, I wish I had taken the opportunity to tell you thank you in person for all you do for homeschooling. I wouldn’t have been in Ohio if you hadn’t been speaking.

    Next time I will just come to your area for one of your mini-conferences!

    BLESSINGS to you and your family!

  • Tiffany W

    Finding your book, The Well-Trained Mind, opened a new world to me. It has helped in guiding us thru our children’s education. We don’t home school but we do supplement our children’s education at the moment. The book really helped us to look at the school’s curriculm to see where we need to add.
    Although I was a straight A student in school, I can’t write. It has had negative impact to my professional career. I don’t want the same for my children. I have ordered your Writing with Skill book for myself. I guess you are never to late to learn. I am also half way thru the History of the Anicent World.
    I really would love to hear you teach but have not be interested in attending conferences. I prefer smaller settings. I really wanted to attend the conference at your farm. The timing was not good this time around. Although I would love to attend one of your session someday, your writings do offer postive impact those who want to learn.

  • Denschool

    Enjoy your time off from conferences. I agree with your philosophy about the conferences. I find that often they are far too much about simply marketing their products than teaching. I guess that is the main purpose of the conference but I love to learn how to inspire my children and really impact them. Everyday my children beg to do Story of the World – that is what I love to hear!! So thank you for all you do!

  • Taylor

    Your past writings and articles have been very clarifying for me in terms of needing to get my spiritual direction from my pastor and church community and not from homeschool celebrities or certain curriculum choices.
    I have very slim pickings at homeschool conventions and go for the classical seminars. I have noticed a difference in the last few years in the lack of purely educational offerings. I am sorry for the grief you get and I understand why you are taking a break. Thank you for giving so much of your time. I saw you in Williamsburg for the Well-trained Mind conference a few years ago as well as at a convention last year. I have been able to help so many new homeschoolers from your website and books. I don’t know how I would homeschool as confidently as I do without your specific instructions. I was just at a meeting last night explaining Writing with Ease to some moms.
    God bless and enjoy your farm!

  • Cathie

    Enjoy your sabbatical from the conferences, Susan, you certainly deserve it. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and your mom at the homeschool conference in Atlanta several years back. It was the best conference I’ve attended, none before or since have measured up.

    You have given so many of us a precious gift – a map (TWTM) and the tools (SOTW, WWE, FLL, etc.) to guide our children through a great education at home. For that I will be eternally grateful.

    Several other posters have suggested your own workshops, which I would happily support, but that still means hotel rooms, eating out, and foreign showers and beds. With today’s technology I bet you could put on a great virtual conference! And just think – you could legitimately have sessions on homeschooling and raising chickens or running a farm!

  • karensk

    Hope you have an awesome break, Susan!! (and I’m seriously hoping it’s just a break.) You will definitely be missed!

    Over the past ten or so years, I’ve so appreciated the opportunity to hear you speak in person….you’re the best at providing the nuts and bolts for how to teach writing, grammar, literature, history and more, in a step-by-step, bite-sized-pieces way that makes me feel like even I can do it. Although (as a new homeschooler) I did benefit from some of the general, encouragement-type workshops offered at most homeschool conferences, over the years, I’ve needed more concrete instruction as to how to teach ___ better. I think of it as continuing education for me, the teacher. Unfortunately, those kinds of workshops were too few, as you mentioned.

    A Peace Hill Press (or WTM-branded) conference would be amazing….Is that doable? That way, it would be run by people you know and trust.

    BTW, I work part-time in a local curriculum store and I tell everyone I can about your coming to speak in the Houston area this summer. Lots of us are very excited!!!

    Looking forward to seeing you again. 🙂
    Karen K.

  • Heather aka ProfessorMom


    I was at the convention last weekend in Cincy and I spent my time going between you, Andrew Pudewa and the convention hall for the very reasons you cited above. You did an amazing job, as always, and I always get so much out of your talks that I can apply directly to what we are learning.

    A homeschool convention that is a little heavier on the education side of things would be terrific. Our faith is critical to our family life, and I find that there are so many resources that speak to that… It would be wonderful to have an outlet to get recharged in our academics as well.

    Enjoy your time… That time of not knowing what is coming next can open some pretty amazing doors! Thanks for all of your work!

  • Kendra Fletcher

    YES. And if me agreeing with you means I’m not invited back next year, then so be it. YES to more conferences that equip parents to teach their children at home. There are plenty of other resources and ministries for parenting and marriage.

  • Kendra Fletcher

    OH- and I just read the above comment about a Peace Hill Press Conference. I’d come to that in a heartbeat!

  • Jacquelyn

    I have been eclectically educating my children for 16 years. I quit identifying myself as a “home educator” because I find I don’t fit into any of the various agendas. We don’t put our kids in school for two reasons: 1) we want them to have an excellent education and 2)quality relationships demand more time than school allows for families and 3) we want to foster autonomy in our kids. That’s it. Homeschooling conferences and associations are following the hanger method (my term) that always fails. Take a good idea (like home education) and start hanging various hangers on it that seem interesting (gardening, homesteading, etc) and pretty soon, the original good idea is so weighted down by the add-ons that you can’t see it anymore. I say we start a new movement called “Eclectic Education” and have our own conferences ;0) p.s. Love your books!

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