Todd “The Familyman” Wilson grew up in public school. But once he became a dad, he knew he wanted something different for his family.
“School is an okay place if you’re average and you fit in, but it is a cruel place if you don’t fit in,” he said in a recent Facebook Live session hosted by the Midwest Parent Educators (MPE) nonprofit.
Wilson will give the keynote address at MPE’s homeschool conference and curriculum fair March 31-April 1 at the KCI Expo Center. A popular speaker at conferences nationwide, Wilson also founded Familyman Ministries and the Smiling Homeschooler.
“Sometimes we get excited about homeschooling, but after we’re in it about 3 months, then we get a little wobbly and we’re like, ‘Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all,’” he said. “I’m going to remind you again of why we homeschool because that makes all the difference in the world.”
Workshops and curriculum options
The conference will feature more than 60 workshops with learning tracks for special-needs homeschooling, high school, and first-time homeschoolers.
While some workshops focus on specific teaching methods, others take a more holistic approach to building real-life skills.
For example, Wilson has planned one workshop around interpersonal conflict, which he describes as “a fun-filled, honest look at the ugly things we do and say – and for some practical rules for arguing ‘better.’”
“That’s again one of the most valuable homeschooling lessons we can teach our kids,” he said. “I want my sons and my daughters to know how to ask forgiveness one day, and how to argue.”
Wilson also advocated for children with special needs, adding they often receive labels at school from teachers or fellow students if they don’t fit in.
“They carry those labels forever,” he said. “But at our home, they’re just our kids and they get to excel because we let them do the things they’re good at.”
In addition to workshops, the conference features homeschool curriculum materials and other educational resources in its vendor hall. Attendees can browse resources while asking questions directly from vendor representatives.
Conference organizers offer childcare for ages 5-12 through its homegrown MPEKIDS program. Children 13 years and older can join the conference youth volunteer team to help with announcing speakers, vendor hall operations, and more.
Attendees can also benefit from the conference’s Mentoring Moms program, where longtime homeschooling moms volunteer to meet and counsel others who may be newer in their homeschool journey.
“Moms still feel overwhelmed, moms still all feel like they’re doing a terrible job; they believe lots of lies that aren’t true,” Wilson said of homeschool moms today, adding it’s normal to feel scared when beginning.
“It’s shocking that we could be over in three and a half years,” he said of his own family’s homeschool journey. “And as hard as it was, we are going to miss it so much. …. It was the best decision we ever made.”