Homeschool conferences are sponsored by regional groups, groups who ascribe to a particular homeschool teaching methodologies, vendors of homeschool materials, and religiously affiliated organizations. Such conferences offer homeschoolers the opportunity to interact with other homeschoolers, review curriculum materials first hand, find support for issues you face as a homeschooler, and verify that you are not alone in your quest to provide for your child in this way.
Homeschool conferences go by a variety of names. Their names may refer to a particular method of homeschooling, as in the “Unschoolers Winter Waterpark Gathering” or could include reference to any of the following:
- Home education
- Home learning
- Home educators
- Home scholars
- Family education
- Teaching parents
- Parents involved in Christian education
The focus of a homeschooling conference may be family activities, speakers and workshops, vendors, or a particular approach to homeschooling. Whether held in a convention center, in a church, or – yes – even at Disneyland, homeschool conferences provide an opportunity for homeschoolers to come together and share with others who face similar trials, issues, and concerns.
Disneyland: Are You Serious?
Yup. In an example of a regional homeschool organization conference, in mid-September, 2009, the 3rd Annual Not Back to School Days Rally will be held in Anaheim, California at Disneyland. This event provides homeschooling families with the opportunity for instruction by Disney staff, a talent show, a dance, expert speakers, and workshops. Workshops listed as of April, 2009 include focus on Charlotte Mason and Unschooling instructional methods, teaching various subjects, right-brained children, Christian home education, field trips, This conference is sponsored by the Southwest Home Educators Association which specializes in providing opportunities to homeschooling families. Information is available here: http://www.southwest-home-education.com/Conference2009/conf2009.htm
Other regional groups have conferences at other times and in other places. They may represent a metropolitan area, a state, or a region (like the Midwest). Check with groups such as those mentioned below and other regional groups to find out when their yearly conference is:
- Home Education Network of Arizona (HENA)
- Southwestern Indiana Home Educators (SWIHE)
- Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators
- Spokane Valley Home Scholars
Teaching Approach or Philosophy Conferences
There are a number of faith-based Christian and Catholic home education conferences offered each year, as well as conferences that focus on an educational philosophy, such as Unschooling. In the first category, we find examples such as the Christian Home Educators Association of California (CHEA), which holds yearly conventions in the Bay Area in spring and at the Long Beach Convention Center in the summer. The Apostolate of Roman Catholic Homeschoolers (ARCH) holds an annual conference and speakers fair, with this year’s session at University of St. Thomas in Texas.
Good Vibrations Unschooling Conference, taking place in San Diego, CA in 2009, is a radical unschooling conference, featuring internationally known speakers and activities for the whole family. See here for more information: goodvibrationsconference.com/
Vendors may either appear at other conferences as a kind of side show, sponsor their own, or join together the feature their wares at curriculum fairs. Christopherus Homeschool Resources is an example of a vendor that sponsors its own conference to promote and help homeschoolers with questions about its Waldorf-oriented materials. You can find more information here: http://christopherushomeschool.org/talks_&_workshops.htm
If you are interested in particular vendors, you may wish to check their websites or contact them to find out if/when they will be present at a conference.
Overall Conference Resources
Calendars of Homeschool Conferences are available at the following sites:
- A to Z Home’s Cool – homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/calendar/events
- HSLDA – hslda.org/about/calendar/default
- VegSource.com HomeSchool Events – vegsource.com/homeschool/hsevents/index
- The Home School Mom – thehomeschoolmom.com/states/conventions
A note on one conference site mentioned that the economic recession has kept some vendors away from conferences and resulted in the cancellation of a few conferences in 2008. It is therefore recommended that you check in periodically with any conference you may plan to attend, to make sure that plans haven’t been altered.