Build a Strong Foundation at the HEAV Homeschool Convention

No matter what stage of homeschooling you’re in, from just beginning your feasibility study, to graduating your student, the Home Educators Association of Virginia’s Homeschool Convention is one you won’t want to miss. There are many compelling reasons to attend a homeschool convention, especially one as comprehensive as HEAV’s. There’s even a giveaway for a free Family Registration to the 2017 HEAV Homeschool Convention! Scroll down to the end to enter.

Strong Foundation

HEAV’s 2017 theme is “Building a Strong Foundation,” and there’s no better place to begin your homeschooling journey, or do some shoring up.

Research

If you are in the beginning stage of learning about homeschooling, a convention is a great place to gain experience through full immersion. Through observation, you can see for yourself that homeschooling families are all unique, but not “weird” as you’ve been led to believe. You’ll see socialization in action, and how homeschooling affects family ties.

While watching the graduation ceremony, you’ll see that homeschooling through high school is possible, and share in the joy with proud parents.

By attending workshops you can begin to learn about different homeschooling approaches and student learning styles. Your eyes will be opened to the freedom and blessings that await those who choose this lifestyle.

HEAV offers three “Homeschool Success” workshops on Thursday, June 8th, that are free and open to the public.

Homeschool Success workshop. Photo courtesy of HEAV
Get started

Once you’ve made the decision to start homeschooling, the next question is “How?” The HEAV convention will have over 350 vendors with everything homeschooling. You’ll be able to look at the products and ask questions of the vendors, many of them homeschooling parents themselves. You’ll also have the opportunity to compare your favorite curriculums in person. You can see the whole list of vendors here.

Tip: With so many products to consider, you might find it helpful to do a little research on them ahead of time and note the ones you want to make a point to see.

Save Money

You can actually save money by attending homeschool conventions. When buying curriculum in person you’ll save money on shipping, and vendors often offer discounts at conventions.

HEAV also has a used curriculum sale where you can buy books and materials, as well as sell the things you no longer need.

Build a Strong Foundation
Used Curriculum Fair, Photo courtesy of HEAV

One lucky winner will save even more money by receiving a free Family Registration. Be sure to enter the giveaway below!

Connect

Support is extremely important for homeschooling families and conventions are a great place to make these connections.

Photo courtesy of HEAV

Join Home Educators Association of Virginia  – HEAV is a non-profit organization for the state of Virginia. You can read about all the great services they provide by visiting their “About” page.

Home School Legal Defense Association – HSLDA is a national organization that provides many services to homeschooling families. Their members can rest assured that if they have a problem with child protective services, the local school board, or government, that they can call HSLDA for advice or legal assistance. They also serve as watchdogs, scrutinizing proposed legislation for any threats to homeschooling freedom. Consider joining HSLDA not only for the protection of your family, but also for others who may need their services and for the future of homeschooling.

Encouragement

By attending workshops you can build your confidence in teaching your children. This year’s workshops span all subjects, as well as specialized areas such as special needs, adoption, and learning disabilities. One homeschool mom said that she “didn’t feel so alone and intimidated,” because of attending a convention.

J. Michael Smith, HSLDA
J. Michael Smith, photo courtesy of HSLDA

J. Michael Smith, of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), is one of this year’s keynote speakers. I recently had the opportunity to interview him and you can read what he had to say in “Homeschool Heroes.” Click here for the list of speakers and their workshops.

Tip: Plan ahead and make note of the sessions that you don’t want to miss.

The convention also offers a Leaders’ Luncheon and a Single Parents’ Luncheon. These events require pre-registration, so follow their links to learn more.

Leaders’ Luncheon, photo courtesy of HEAV
Fun for the whole family

I’ve never seen so many activities offered. Even if the convention required traveling it would make a fun trip for the whole family, not to mention that it’s in a historic area. Here are some of the special events, but be sure to visit their website because there are more than I can list!

Photography Team, photo courtesy of HEAV

Activities for children and teens such as art, photography, chess, a math tournament, a music competition, a dissection lab, and more.

Graduation Ceremony, Photo courtesy of HEAV

Graduation ceremony

A College and Career Fair – follow this link to see all of the colleges, tech schools, military branches, and companies that will attend.

There’s even something for pastors.

Registration

Admission is priced by the family. Pay one low price for a Family Registration, and your spouse and dependent children attend FREE!

There are opportunities for free admission for qualifying families and grandparents. To see if you qualify for free admission or to apply for a scholarship, click here.

Accommodations

All the information you need to make hotel reservations and find your way there, can be found on the convention website. There’s even a shuttle service. They’ve thought of everything!

Prepare

9 Easy Steps to HomeschoolingHomeschool conventions can be overwhelming, especially one as large as HEAV’s. If you’re new to homeschooling, I’ve written an ebook called “9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling,” that takes you through some exercises that are beneficial in the beginning. It may be helpful to work through before attending the convention.

Pack

There are many good reasons to attend a homeschool convention and with HEAV’s being the second-largest in the nation, it’s even more worthwhile. It’s important for your homeschool to have a strong foundation and you can build it by choosing great curriculum, strengthening your confidence, and connecting with other homeschoolers – all at the HEAV Homeschool Convention! If you’re ready to make your arrangements, please visit HEAV’s registration page.

Giveaway

Enter here for a chance to win a Family Registration to the HEAV Homeschool Convention, valued at $79. One lucky winner will be chosen at random and notified by email.

 

Build a Strong Foundation
Helpful Links

HEAV Homeschool Convention

HSLDA

Homeschool Heroes ~ An Interview with J. Michael Smith of HSLDA

Visit Richmond, Virginia

HEAV Convention


Homeschool Heroes ~ An Interview with J. Michael Smith of HSLDA

I’m partnered with Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV) to help promote their June, 2017, homeschool convention. Therefore, I had the honor of interviewing one of this year’s keynote speakers, J. Michael Smith of Home School Legal Defense Association. He, along with his friend, Michael Farris, founded HSLDA in 1983, when, as an attorney and homeschooling father, he felt called to assist prosecuted families. For over thirty years, they have defended homeschoolers and have helped pave the way for the movement to flourish.

J. Michael Smith, HSLDA
J. Michael Smith, photo courtesy of HSLDA
Benefits of Homeschooling

J. Michael Smith believes that conventions such as HEAV’s are beneficial for homeschooling parents because they get to see others’ successes, as well as others’ struggles – they can see that they’re not alone. He encourages parents by talking about three major benefits of homeschooling:

  1. Socialization – “Who you spend time with is how you’re formed. Public schools are doomed to failure because of who is attending and the lack of parents doing their job. If we are conscientious [in homeschooling], their experience will be so much better. Schools are scary.”
  2. Academic – A school teacher with twenty students cannot give the individualized attention that a homeschool parent can. Mr. Smith described a recent case in Missouri where a struggling elementary student’s mother spoke with school officials, asking for some individualized attention for her son. When they said they couldn’t provide that, the mother withdrew her son to homeschool him. The school district then took her to court and HSLDA defended her. Mr. Smith added that in Europe, 60-70% of public school graduates live with their parents because they aren’t able to leave home and function on their own. He sees America following that trend.
  3. Spiritual – Mr. Smith described one situation where homeschooling saved a young man’s life. In one of his early cases, before homeschooling was as well-known, a young man had attempted suicide because of things that had been going on at school. His parents began homeschooling him and that young man went on to become a missionary. “It’s a blessing how we save heartbreak,” said Mr. Smith.
“America’s Greatest Heroes”

At a recent convention, Mr. Smith asked the attending homeschool mothers why more Christian mothers don’t homeschool, what reason they gave. The overwhelming response was, “Because they can’t.” Mr. Smith attributes that response to either a lack of faith or an excuse, adding that it’s sad that only 3 1/2% of Christian children are homeschooled. He continued, “Homeschooling adds a lot of pressure, and 100% is on mom’s shoulders. That’s why I truly believe that homeschool moms are America’s greatest heroes.”

He encourages prospective homeschool parents to “Get into the fray and take it one day at a time.” “Whatever you do, don’t quit at the lowest level,” he cautioned, explaining that his office gets a lot of calls from parents who had put their kids in public school after hitting a low point and regretted it.

Alleviating Pressure

I asked Mr. Smith if he had practical suggestions for relieving the pressure on the homeschooling family, especially mom. This is the advice that he had to offer:

  • Dad must play a major role. He needs to give mom time alone, time with dad without the kids, and time with a support group. He needs to help shoulder the responsibility.
  • Dad should have the primary responsibility for disciplining the children. They should know that the highest crime is disrespect of their mother, what the consequences are, and that punishment will be applied.
  • Ideally, the father should help with homeschooling in some way.
  • Dad should be responsible for the spiritual growth of the family. At the same time, mom needs time to develop her own relationship with Jesus, and her husband should facilitate that.
  • Dad should be a good husband and provide a good marriage.
  • Parents should pray together daily.
We the People

Mr. Smith quoted the Declaration of Independence, saying, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Then he explained, “Our liberties come from God and that is recognized in our country’s documents. In a ‘civil law’ country, they come from government and have to be written down, but in America, if we aren’t specifically prohibited from something, then we have freedom. That brings the responsibility to protect those freedoms. We, the people, are the government. We lose freedom when we don’t act.” Mr. Smith believes that it’s our obligation to defend those rights through political processes. “Liberty is the foundation of what makes our government different. It also applies to the homeschool movement. God holds us responsible to protect our liberties. The government will always encroach.” He specified two ways of satisfying our civic homeschool duty.

  1. Join a support group.
  2. Join HSLDA – Think of future generations. Not only does HSLDA provide protection for your family, but it protects the freedom to homeschool for generations to come.
Hazards

I asked Mr. Smith what current issues should be of most concern to homeschooling parents. He pointed out two hazards for homeschooling:

Apathy – Mr. Smith started homeschooling at a time when the stakes were much higher. He said he probably wouldn’t have started if he had known what it would be like, that there were parents who faced fines and jail time. “Homeschooling parents today have no clue what it took to attain current homeschooling freedoms,” he said.

Dependence on Government – He warned of the so-called “ESA” movement (Education Savings Account), vouchers, etc. I asked him about tax credits and he said that he was okay with them because they enable homeschoolers to keep their own money. In contrast, ESA and vouchers use taxpayers’ money. He quoted the adage, “The person who pays the piper gets to name the tune,” in cautioning giving government that foothold. We aren’t ever safe because the legislature changes every two years. As an example, he referenced Nevada where the legislature had been a Republican majority, but it just switched and a Democrat introduced a law to lower compulsory school attendance from age seven to five. That would mean that homeschoolers would also be required by law to start earlier.

Advancements

Mr. Smith and I talked about advancements he’s seen for homeschooling. He noted these encouraging developments:

  • Diplomas are getting more credibility. For example, in the past the military would put a homeschool graduate in “Tier 2” which was the equivalent of a GED or a dropout, and meant that they didn’t get benefits or education. That has now changed and homeschool diplomas are treated equally.
  • Disability and veterans benefits – Children of deceased or disabled fathers receive benefits until they leave school. Homeschooled children were being denied benefits because their homeschool was not recognized as accredited. This, too, has been rectified.
  • Colleges are more readily accepting homeschool graduates.
  • Some states are rolling back some requirements. In North Dakota, for example, homeschoolers can now opt out of standardized tests.
Recent Victory

I asked Mr. Smith if he would share one of HSLDA’s recent victories. He told me about a case in California where a homeschooling mother’s children had been removed because authorities believed that one of the children, a diabetic, was in danger. Even after a doctor examined the child and wrote that he was fine, the state still refused to release the children to their mother. HSLDA represented the mother and won the case. “The state had to pay a substantial reward to the mother,” Mr. Smith said, emphasizing the word, “substantial.”

Dealing with Child Protective Services must be among homeschooling families’ greatest fears. It’s reassuring to know that HSLDA is always ready to aid its members.

New Administration

At the close of our interview, I asked Mr. Smith how he felt about the new administration. He noted that President Carter established the Department of Education and that test scores had gone down steadily ever since. “We will always have government interference, but we’re better off being regulated at the local level.” He likes the trend of taking education away from federal government and thinks that is what President Trump and Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, are trying to do.

Homeschool Heroes

I don’t know if I would have had the courage to homeschool if I hadn’t known that HSLDA “had my back.” Although I never needed them, I knew what to do if there was a knock on the door, and that they were only a phone call away. Being called to homeschool one’s children can be a frightening proposition. I’m grateful that along with calling parents to homeschool, God also called dedicated men and women to defend us. I thank J. Michael Smith for letting me interview him, and also for answering God’s call to defend families like mine. They are our homeschool heroes.

You can see J. Michael Smith in person at the HEAV Homeschool Convention, June 8-10, 2017, in Richmond, Virginia. To learn more, please visit HEAV’s website: http://heav.org/convention/

I will be having a giveaway for a family registration to the 2017 HEAV convention, the second-largest in the nation, valued at $79. Please subscribe to be notified of the giveaway.

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Related Reading

Build a Strong Foundation at the HEAV Homeschool Convention

Helpful Links

HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association)

HEAV (Home Educators Association of Virginia)

HEAV Convention

Homeschool Heroes