Each year there are about 30 Catholic homeschooling conferences in the United States. Homeschooling Catholic will come out with two important conference listings each year. In September, as soon as conference season is over (the conference season goes from March through August), we will post a ranking of conferences by attendance. In January, we will post a listing by date with dates, locations, and links.
2013 was the largest year in history for Catholic Homeschooling Conference, seeing a 20% increase in attendance over last year in part due to the 10K Strong Campaign. Total attendance was around 8,400.
2013 Catholic Homeschooling Conference Rankings
The attendance figures used by Homeschooling Catholic are independently estimated and may not be identical with the official figures used by individual conference organizers. Unfortunately, different conferences often have different criteria for counting, and thus official figures are not always good for comparison. Homeschooling Catholic’s actual estimates are not posted in order to avoid any dispute with individual organizers. Our numbers only count persons 13 years of age and older.
Homeschooling Catholic only ranks the top 20 conferences.
Why attend a Catholic Homeschooling Conference?
The first question is what is a Catholic homeschooling conference? In general, it is a one day or two day event usually held at a Catholic parish or conference center at which there are speakers who encourage others and offer practical advice. These speakers are often a mixture of veteran homeschooling mothers, Catholic priests, and professional educators. In addition to the slate of speakers is a large area in which different Catholic curriculum providers, publishers, and retailers have tables displaying thousands of homeschooling books and products.
So… Why go to such an event? If you are new to Catholic homeschooling or are curious about it, a conference is simply an invaluable experience. Not only do speakers explain the basics of homeschooling and elaborate on some of the motivations behind doing it, and not only does examining the vendor materials allow you an unrivaled opportunity to look through the pages of actual homeschooling text books and lesson plans, but more importantly you get to see and meet numerous other Catholic homeschooling families. Homeschoolers are not Amish, they are not cult members, and they are not superheroes (at least not in the traditional sense), they are ordinary mothers and fathers just like you who care deeply about the welfare and education of their children and want to do what seems best for them. It is not uncommon to hear from new conference attendees that they are surprised how normal everyone is and how comfortable they feel at the conference, almost as if it were a spiritual retreat or a relaxed family gathering. It might sound silly, but getting a concrete experience with other homeschoolers can make a world of difference to a family deciding whether or not to homeschool.
For veteran homeschoolers, the reason to come to a conference is often to be rejuvenated. Even if on an intellectual level you think homeschooling is the best, the fact is the homeschooling is often hard work, and having a once a year gathering where you can feel uplifted, encouraged, and feel connected with other homeschooling parents is often just what is needed to approach the new school year refreshed and eager. The opportunity to shop for curriculum with the physical books and lesson plans in your hand is just a categorically different experience then trying to shop online with only a few sample pages, sometimes depending on vague books descriptions to make very important choices about your child’s education.
In the end, the question really seems to be, why not go to a Catholic Homeschooling Conference? It can be difficult to keep these conferences going each year and many conferences are in need of volunteers, so if you are interested, you might think of contacting the coordinator for your local conference and asking how you can help!