I've been speaking and exhibiting at homeschool conventions now for the last 24 years. I've lectured and conducted workshops at conventions in virtually every state in the Union. Nowadays, state-wide homeschool organizations hold conventions annually. And they are usually attended by thousands of parents. I've always enjoyed the experience. I've enjoyed meeting parents, listening to their stories, answering their questions. What pleases me most is when parents tell me that it was something I said some five years ago that convinced them to homeschool their kids. I also enjoy being told how well their kids have learned to read with Alpha-Phonics!
As a speaker and exhibitor, my greatest enjoyment at these conventions is in being a witness to the rebirth of educational freedom in America. Home education, as a national movement, has grown year by year so that today it represents a formidable cultural change in American family life. Many commentators today talk about the decline of the American family, but among homeschoolers you witness its rebirth.
I also enjoy listening to the other speakers, and am always amazed at the plethora of new books and materials being offered. Observing parents and children as they wend their way through the aisles, looking over books and curricula, filling the lecture halls, and singing hymns of glory to God is wonderful to behold.
A homeschool convention is like a religious revival meeting, because it is so filled with the spirit of parents and children bonding in a way that fulfills the true Godly function of the family.
Most state-wide homeschool organizations are Christian in orientation, and that is because Christian parents were among the first Americans to understand what was happening to their children’s spiritual lives in the atheist, anti-Christian public schools. Rather than put their children in private schools, which they could not afford, they decided to homeschool, a form of education that existed in colonial times and in our early republic. The great advantage of homeschooling is that the parent does the educating and thereby creates a strong bond with one’s children.
What one sees at homeschool conventions are families enjoying the whole process of education. Not only do they carefully select books and curricula for the coming year, but they listen to inspiring talks by dedicated speakers who provide the kind of information and encouragement you would never hear from the mouth of a public school superintendent. The fact that you are at the convention is a measure of the depth and intensity of your interest in making sure that your child gets a good education at home.
A homeschool convention promotes a sense of positive achievement. It says loud and clear that parents not only can teach their children, but, at the same time, can learn what they were never taught in public school. By teaching their own children, they realize how deficient their own education was in the public school. So everyone benefits from home education, parents as well as children.
How to get the most out of the convention? Go through the program and decide what workshops and lectures you want to attend and make your reservations. Get to the convention early so that you can take your time visiting the vendors between workshops. There will be a lot to choose from. Bring a cart on wheels. Books, brochures, and catalogs can get awfully heavy. Bring cash, a checkbook, and credit cards. Some vendors do not take credit cards, but they will take cash or checks.
Don't feel shy about asking questions in workshops and lectures. Speakers enjoy the give and take of the question period. Also, don't hesitate to ask an author-speaker to sign a book you've just bought. A signed copy has more value than an unsigned one. As a writer, I enjoy signing books at conventions.
If possible, become friendly with other visitors who may have used a product or curriculum you are thinking of buying. In selling my reading program at conventions I am always pleasantly surprised when an unsolicited user will come up to my table and tell a potential buyer what a great product Alpha-Phonics is.
And, as many of you have noticed, the conventions are getting larger and larger. When I attended the first convention of our homeschool organization in Massachusetts back in the 1980s, it was held in a small church basement and drew an attendance of about 300. Last spring it was held at the Worcester Convention Center with an attendance of over 3,000. The organization had outgrown the largest convention hotel in the state.
For years, CHEA in Southern California, held their conventions at Disneyland Hotel. It became crowded beyond belief. Now they are holding their annual get-together at the Pasadena Convention Center, a facility that can accommodate many thousands.
I've never minded crowds at conventions. That's what conventions are for. So enjoy your fellowship with other homeschoolers. You are all part of a new army of families trying to restore morality and learning to America.
Of late, many of the parents attending conventions are newcomers. Their children may be very young, but more and more of them are looking into homeschooling as a possibility for themselves. Veteran homeschoolers can be of help to such newcomers by sharing their experiences. Many newcomers need all the help they can get from the veterans.
The convention season usually begins in early Spring and ends in late Summer. If your state group has already had its convention, you can find out about next year’s convention, which, believe it or not, is already in the planning stages.
In any case, there is plenty of information about homeschool conventions on the Internet. Just type in “homeschool conventions” in your search engine and you’ll be surprised by what you find. There is no reason why a child need suffer in a politically correct government school. which may turn him into a functional illiterate. If you are a single parent who has to work, you can find a homeschool group in your community willing to add your child to their school at home. Homeschoolers love children and usually have large families. So they would have no problem adding your child to their daily educational routines.