SMHEA Homeschool Expo

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Every June, my local homeschool support organization, the Smoky Mountain Home Educators Association, puts on a free mini-convention. There are vendors and local organizations who cater to homeschoolers, like the Knoxville Zoo, the Titanic Museum, and Ripley’s Aquarium. There are seminars, too. I am one of the speakers.

Adriana Zoder, Claiborne and Lana Thornton

With THEA President, Claiborne Thornton, and his wife Lana

This year, I spoke about Preschool and Kindergarten in one seminar. The other one was about different homeschool approaches. Education can be done in a myriad of ways. By the way, you can find the slides of my PowerPoint presentations under the tab called Workshops on this blog. Continue reading »

Every homeschooling family should attend a homeschool convention at least once a year. It is a time to come together with like-minded parents and to connect. No man is an island. I know many of us are fiercely independent. If you are like me, you do not want to get involved with a co-op. I get it. But there is something to be said about renewing your strength as you gather together with other homeschooling parents.

Your vision may get a bit blurry and a convention will help you wipe your homeschooling lens so you can see clearly again. Or you may be so happy with your homeschooling effort, you just burst to share your enthusiasm and help those who are struggling. You don’t have to wait until you are in crisis mode or burned out to attend. Just put it on your calendar ahead of time and make it a priority.

SMHEA EXPO Sign

This year’s Expo happened in a Methodist church in Powell.

SMHEA makes an effort to have the event free. You may not be as blessed where you live. Whatever the price of your convention, I promise you it will be worth it. And you don’t have to buy anything in the vendor hall – though their special convention sales may be worth a second thought. Just gather information and look at the books and products they have. I got my questions answered about Saxon math, for instance.

SMHEA Expo Vendor Hall

My husband and children looking around in the vendor hall.

The internet can help a lot with research, but there is nothing like thumbing through a book and talking to a mom who has actually used a certain curriculum. You can fill in the informational gaps that way and make a more intelligent decision.

Rich Melton, Todd Sparrow

Former SMHEA President speaks and current president Todd Sparrow looks on

One neat feature this year was a scavenger hunt for the children. They loved it as they walked around the building, picking up different odds and ends from the list provided. It was also a chance to listen to the previous SMHEA director, Rich Melton, and to THEA president, Claiborne Thornton and his wife. THEA is the Tennessee Home Educators Association and the parent organization of SMHEA, which only covers 18 counties in East Tennessee.

Their stories of how homeschooling became legal in Tennessee in the 80s brought tears to my eyes. We have forgotten how precious this privilege is and how much others sacrificed to pave the way for our freedom to educate our own children. For that alone, the $28 SMHEA annual membership fee is totally worth it, especially as some of the money goes to THEA to help with lobbying.


Appalachian Home Educators Conference

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On June 26-27, 2015, on the campus of Johnson University, home educators from Knoxville and the surrounding areas will get together for the Appalachian Home Educators Conference. I am honored to be in the speaker lineup, which is headed by Dr. Susan Wise Bauer.

My seminars will cover home teaching methods and bilingualism. I am very excited to gather up my materials and put some PowerPoint presentations together. I am very passionate about home education and multilingualism, as you may know, if you have been reading my blog for a bit.

Aerial view of Johnson University

Aerial view of Johnson University in Knoxville

The list of Exhibitors can be found here. Accommodations and meals right on campus seem very affordable.

In my opinion, home educators should attend a homeschooling conference every year, to be encouraged and strengthened, to learn about new curriculum, and to get together with like-minded people. I know I have attended a homeschool conference every year since I decided to homeschool and I always received a blessing.


Great Homeschool Conventions

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Are you going to a homeschool convention this year? Which one? Please leave me a comment.

Check out the homeschool event of the year, with speakers like Dr. Ben Carson, Susan Wise Bower and Heidi St. John, among others.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that you can buy a ticket for this conference at no extra cost to you and I receive a small percentage. Thank you for your support!

Homeschool Convention Discount Ticket Price Extended