The 29th Annual Virginia Homeschool Convention, hosted by Home Educators Association of Virginia (heav.org), opens this Thursday at the Richmond Convention Center. If you are interested in homeschooling, the HEAV Convention is the place to be. Whether you are a new homeschooler, a veteran homeschooler, your grandchildren are homeschooled, or you are just considering homeschooling, attending the HEAV Convention is the best way to get your questions answered.
Some questions I have heard answered include:
Why and how should I homeschool?
Is this really legal?
Are colleges interested in homeschool graduates?
Do I need the patience of a saint?
What about PE?
Do homeschooled children have friends?
Can I homeschool on a budget?
Can I homeschool through high school?
How do I keep records and write a high school transcript?
Does homeschooling really work?
Is this worth my time and energy?
How do I handle the comments of family, friends and strangers?
Can a single parent homeschool?
How can I teach my special needs child at home?
How can we homeschool when our family is facing a chronic illness?
How do I teach science/history/art/music, when I don’t like it or know much about it myself?
What is the best math/reading/writing/language program for me and my child?
Are all the other homeschooling moms really superheroes, or do they just look like they have it together?
Is there hope for the burned out homeschooling mom?
Are there any other homeschoolers like me?
How can I keep my toddler from writing all over the walls while I am teaching her older siblings?
Do all homeschoolers really wear denim jumpers? (Yes. Don’t the men look lovely in them?)
You can get answers to all of these questions and more at the HEAV Convention. The speakers are well informed, interesting, and most of them have been in your shoes. They know what you are facing and they want to help. The other attendees are often as much a source of information as the speakers. If you can’t find a workshop that addresses your specific needs, start asking questions. Somebody will know the answer or know who you should talk to.
This year, children of all ages are allowed into the workshops with their parents. Of course, having your child in a workshop that is being recorded requires wisdom and courtesy. It’s wise to sit near the back if you have a young child or baby and it is courteous to leave as soon as your child begins to be wiggly or make noise. If it feels like people are staring at you while you remove your child from the room, don’t worry. Chances are it’s a mom who has been there before and wishes she could help. A children’s program is offered for ages 5-12. My children have attended at least 3 times and loved every minute of it.
The HEAV Convention also hosts a Used Curriculum Sale. The sooner you pre-register for the conference, the sooner you are allowed into the sale. If you have not pre-registered, you will be allowed in at 3 pm Saturday. Don’t worry; there will still be lots of great deals available.
The HEAV Convention Exhibit Hall is an almost overwhelming collection of vendors. Some of my favorites include:
Home School Legal Defense Association Answers In Genesis
Virginia Soaps and Scents Classical Conversations
Bread Beckers Young Musicians of Virginia
Bower Family Books Mary Baldwin College
Generations of Virtue Home Educators Association of Virginia
The list goes on and on. I suggest you take a look at the Exhibit Hall map and circle the booths you really want to see. Wander the whole place before you buy anything. Sometimes the item you are looking for is sold by two or three different vendors at different prices. A little searching is worth the time. If you can, sleep on any major purchases you make. A homeschool convention exhibit hall is to a homeschool mom what a buffet is to a food addict. Mind your budget! On the other hand, you will pick up lots of freebies. Yay FREEBIES!
You will see all kinds of homeschoolers. Whether you sport denim jumpers and head coverings, tattoos and piercings, or capris and tees, at the HEAV convention, you will find kindred souls. Even better you will probably meet someone you know. My husband, Dan, and I can’t go an hour at the convention without running into someone we know. We can’t get through the entire weekend without running into an acquaintance we did not know was homeschooling. It is a great place to start building a support system. If you don’t run into someone you know, strike up a conversation with one of those kindred souls. Homeschool families are generally friendly folk.
The HEAV Convention culminates in a large commencement ceremony. Hundreds of families gather to watch their homeschooled seniors walk across the stage. It is a touching ceremony that is especially meaningful to those moms and dads who have worked hard to teach their children and now have the privilege of handing them their diploma. The HEAV commencement is a nice option for those who want their homeschooler to have a formal graduation event.
So, I ask you, as I ask my friend every year, “Are you going to HEAV?” Hopefully, you have a different answer than hers. She always answers, “No. Thank you for asking, but I feel fine.” Silly girl.