A gathering of like minded Mamas. A weekend of inspiration, laughter, and deep connection to our purpose in our homeschool journey.
Have you ever walked into a room full of people and immediately felt at home? It’s a rare phenomenon. An incredible feat of remaining true to intentions and purposeful interactions. The brave and wonderful team behind the Wild + Free community, founded and lead by Ainsley Arment, put on their ninth conference last weekend in Frisco, Texas. These homeschool conferences are not your Mama’s homeschool conference. Equal parts fun and inspiration, I always walk away from the weekened feeling refreshed and even more certain that this homeschool life is right for my family.
"There is beauty in the brokenness when we choose to be brave." - Ainsley Arment, founder of Wild + Free
The lineup of speakers and presenters at the Wild + Free conference is always a powerful group of mothers – some veteran homeschoolers and some in the middle of their journey. All of whom have a strong voice within both the Wild + Free family as well as other homeschool circles. Each presenter comes from a different background with a different story of how they got where they are, but the connecting thread is a passion for home educating their children and inspiring other mothers to see the beauty and importance in the work they are doing, both traditional book learning and learning that takes place out of doors. The theme of this conference was one of laying roots. And each speaker touched on the fact that we are building the legacy that will one day be the roots that our children become as our family trees march onward into the future.
From the exubrance and passion of Julie Bogard, to the sage wisdom of Sally Clarkson, the always lovely and inspiring Leah Boden. the raw and honest group panel discussion, and the deep truth and beauty of the words of Elsie Iudiciello. The conference is not a how to homeschool with overwhelming curriculum to pursue, but rather an impassioned look at the why we homeschool. Why we choose to offer something a little different for our children. A life centered around a beautiful feast of education and experiences.
"Imagination is a muscle that needs to be exercised. " - Elsie Iudicello
The conference was filled with more wisdom than can be recorded here. But perhaps one of the most profoundly impactful piece of advice, was actually permission to say “this isnt working” in the form of the presentation by Susan Wise Baur. The acclaimed homeschool writer and speaker delivered such powerful wisdom and permission to say enough when faced with a homeschool situation that is not working for either parent or child. She highlighted the importance of being a parent first, and teacher second. And expanding on that, she shared the story of her children, and how vastly different they are. The “child x” who often times fits outside of the family’s culture or patterns, and how they are usually the ones struggling to find their spark. But she also touched on the overlooked struggles of the “child y.” The rule followers who listen and learn well. The story of “child y” resonated so deeply within my heart I couldn’t help but find my self a bit teared up at thinking about it. For those of us that have rule follower children (of which I was one) it is of the utmost importance that they feel and deeply know that our love for them is not based on performance. That our pride for them is rooted in who they are, rather than what they do. It is all to easy to say to our rule follower children that we are proud of them, and they grow in that, which develops into success in life based on a fear of failure. Life is full of failures, and our children need to know how to walk through failure knowing that their value and self worth is defined by something far greater. All of our children, the “child x” and the “child y” need to know that we are proud of them, for who they are, as they are, right now. Sometimes in this journey, it is us, as mother’s, who will be facing failure. And it’s necessary for us to release the expectations we held onto and accept that trying something different is ok. And our children will be ok.
"Be a parent first, be a teacher second. If you can't be a teacher second, don't be a teacher at all." - Susan Wise Bauer
Building a legacy. That theme surfaced again and again throughout the conference. A thought that came to me during the conference, was the idea that what I am leaving for my children is a legacy of adventure and finding the fun. I may not be able to play music, like the amazingly talented Hunts family, nor can I offer them an art filled upbringing. But I can give them a deep sense of wonder at the world around them. To see the amazing beauty in the nature in our backyard and the world beyond. I am leaving my legacy of saying yes to shenanigans, to finding the fun, to seeing the joy, and to not being afraid of what the world may say. To be themselves, as loudly or as quietly as they choose, but always doing so with love and compassion. To feel deeply. To love deeply. And to expereince a deeply rooted joy. That is the legacy I am leaving to my children. And my take away from the conference? That it is ok. Our legacy we are leaving will look a little different for each family, and that what I am pouring into my children and myself, will be the soil that those future roots will grow in.