Saturday, June 09, 2012

Back in the homeschool classroom: HEAV Convention

This is homeschool convention weekend in Richmond! Home Educators Association of Virginia holds their annual event each June complete with vendors, used book sale, workshops, and seminars. For those who educate their children at home, it's a sight to behold, as I wrote in this Washington Examiner article in 2010.

This morning on Facebook, one of the former homeschool students of PEACH -- Parent Educators of Augusta County Homes -- who grew up with my kids posted, "So I did something that I never thought I would do. I went to the Virginia Home School Convention ... as a parent." The torch is being passed to the next generation.

I attended convention almost every year during our 16 years of homeschooling. I'm a visual person ... I like to touch it, experience it, enjoy it hands-on. For that reason, conventions were perfect for me.

In the months leading up to convention, I would research curricula for the upcoming school year, check catalogs and online, and talk with parents about what worked for them in a given subject.  I would circle interested items and then carry the catalogs with me to Richmond.

Because of the large number of vendors in Richmond's Convention Center, it was easy to physically check out almost everything that had been circled in my catalogs. It also offered the opportunity to pick up other items that caught my interest or that were inspiring.

In grades K-8, our family used the Calvert curriculum, a totally complete package used by missionaries and travelers around the world because of its convenience of having a year's curriculum in one box. Calvert included everything from subject books to work books to rulers, scissors, and crayons. I would find additional subjects at convention to add to the mix -- perhaps more literature books or something of particular interest to my child. Then I would check out the art vendors and stock up on construction paper, art pads, drawing paper ... all those items that bring out the creativity in little hands.

Since Calvert stops at grade 8, the high school years consisted of a hand-picked list of publishers and materials that worked well for my children. Choosing subjects such as science, math, science, literature, history, geography, grammar, I would find the best publisher whose teaching method meshed with my child's learning style, and then looked for extracurricular subjects to enhance the high school experience. That included consumer math, driver's education, expanded government/ civics, American history, labs, and more.

Convention offered the opportunity to not only check the books up-close-and-person but also offered the opportunity to purchase them without shipping costs. Just as with any catalog shopping, sometimes something that looked wonderful in the catalog didn't pass the sniff test at convention but, with so many choices under one roof, another option was usually just an aisle or so away.

Workshops and seminars offered speakers and demonstrations. The used book sale offered savings on gently-used curricula. Saving money is important to homeschool families that often juggle costs in one-income households.

HEAV has been doing this for 29 years. Their informational tables offer help for beginners and veterans of homeschooling as well as provide books with a wealth of information about anything homeschool-related. HEAV staff as well as experienced homeschool parents man the tables and are there to answer questions.

Today is the last day for the 2012 Virginia convention so head on down to the Greater Richmond Convention Center anytime until 6:30 p.m. If you don't make it, HEAV is available to help throughout the year, and then you can make plans to attend convention next year. You won't regret it.

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