For the past three years, a Teach Them Diligently Convention for homeschooling families has taken place fairly close to my home state of Oklahoma. The first year I attended Teach Them Diligently, we went to the Omaha convention, then Dallas the next year, and last year we went to Dallas again. However, this year there wasn’t a TTD convention in Dallas, and because my 20-year-old daughter Virginia loves Nashville, we decided to make it a vacation trip and attend Teach Them Diligently there.
The convention didn’t start until Thursday afternoon, so we left for Nashville the Monday prior and spent the first few days exploring the city together. I took Virginia and my two boys (11 and 5), as well as my 15-year-old niece Rachael, who helped out with the boys and enjoyed the adventure with us.
Monday night we ventured downtown to Broadway Street. We ate on a rooftop and enjoyed the sights. Tuesday we explored the city some more and toured the Country Music Hall of Fame. The kids had fun singing in a “recording studio” and then mixing their own album, which we got a copy of via email. The museum has a great interactive room with stations for visitors to collect digital trophies and do some fun musical activities. Tuesday night, Virginia and I had a girl’s night out on Broadway. We ate at the Hard Rock Cafe and hung out at Tootsies — one of the longest running honky tonks in Nashville — listening to the house band.
On Wednesday, we drove to Nashville’s Centennial Park. It was a beautiful day, so the kids rented bicycles at the self-serve bike rental racks — what a neat idea! I played with my youngest son Leif at the park while the older kids rode around. Then we toured the Parthenon together.
By Wednesday evening, it was time to check in at the TTD Convention hotel and get the lay of the land. Wow — the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center is huge! Our room was at one end, the convention center was at the other end, and there were very large atrium courtyards in between. It is so beautiful! Our room had a balcony with a table and chairs where you could just sit and look out at the atrium. The hotel has about ten restaurants and several shopping areas, as well as a spa, an indoor/outdoor pool, and a hot tub. Fancy!
We got settled in and relaxed. Thursday afternoon, Virginia and Rachael went back downtown while I took the boys to the convention center to help with setup. I heard that about 2,300 families had pre-registered for the convention and many more registered on site. I helped check in the families with G-H surnames, handing each family a registration packet and explaining what was in it, while my son Joel handed the families a goody bag that contained the convention program. I also explained how they could play the vendor door prize game we were handing out.
About an hour in, Virginia came to pick up the boys, but Joel was having such a good time that he wanted to stay. Not long after that, I had to go to another area to help someone, and when I came back, Joel was sitting in my seat handing out packets, bags, and door prize sheets — explaining the whole thing to each person on his own. I was very impressed with my eldest son, who is usually so quiet and shy.
That evening was the big keynote session with Kirk Cameron. The 4000-capacity ballroom was full for this session, and Mr. Cameron did not disappoint. He was very funny, very real, and on point. After the session, he was seen touring the vendor hall and chatting up both vendors and shoppers alike.
Over the course of the convention, I only attended a few sessions. I spent most of the day on Friday volunteering in TTD’s Homeschool Launch booth downstairs in the vendor area. However, I did get to attend a powerful session on prayer called “Have a Passionate and Powerful Prayer Life” with Leslie Nunnery, and Friday afternoon I attended a session with Virginia called “Parenting and Homeschooling by Faith Not Fear” with Jon and Ann Dunagan. The Dunagans are some of my favorite people: Their passion, joy, and faith are evident and easily seen in all they do.
Friday night’s “Evening of Real Refreshment” with Rachael Carman was awesome — about a 1,000 women worshipping and having fun together. I have to admit, I cried through most of it. I am an emotional mess right now, which is the real reason I volunteered to help much of the weekend: It was easier for me to help out than to sit in the sessions this year.
The kids enjoyed walking the vendor hall after lunch. Joel especially enjoyed checking out the Skrafty booth as well as meeting “Blimey Cow.”
On Saturday Virginia and I went to several sessions together: the “Getting Started: Homeschool 101” session with Leslie Nunnery and Rachael Carman, and a session called “Teaching Boys and Other Children Who Would Rather Make Forts All Day” by Andrew Pudewa. The kids went with us to Mr. Pudewa’s session: We sat on the front row and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Overall, this year’s TTD Nashville was another encouraging event for me. The heart of David and Leslie Nunnery and all of their team comes shining through in everything they do. Their vision is to help equip families to disciple and be missionaries within their own homes. I need that reminder and opportunity to refocus each year, and I am already looking forward to next year.
Working the Homeschool Launch booth was a great experience for me. It was nice to make new friends and help people by answering questions about homeschooling and curriculum choices. The experience reminded me of why I originally started blogging: I get great joy from encouraging others on this beautiful journey we call “homeschool.”
“And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” — Deuteronomy 6:7
Have you ever attended a Teach Them Diligently Convention? If not, there are still two Teach Them Diligently Conventions taking place this year in Atlanta and Sandusky, Ohio: There’s still time to register for either location! What other homeschooling conferences or workshops have you attended that provide the encouragement and refreshment you need as a homeschooling parent? Share your thoughts in the comments below.