Homeschooling conference draws national speakers

In many ways, says Hilary Sharpe, the questions and challenges of homeschoolers are the same as those for parents with children in traditional school settings.

"Are my children being challenged enough?" parents may ask. "Do I allow enough time for my children to follow their own interests? Is this the year to start Latin and to focus on a sport they’re best suited for?"

But homeschoolers have other considerations as well, says Sharpe, chair of the upcoming Virginia Homeschoolers Conference and Resource Fair.

"Should we do math at home?" a homeschooling parent might ask. "Or look into the community college with dual enrollment instead?

"Am I adequately setting up an environment for my child to learn in the way that’s best for him or her?"

On March 25-26 at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, homeschoolers will have a chance to get expert advice regarding those questions as speakers from Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Colorado join Richmond-area parents at the annual conference.

Designed to meet the needs of prospective, new and long-term homeschoolers, the conference will feature keynote speaker Joy Hakim, author of the series A History of US and The Story of Science.

Hakim, who will discuss history and science and the interplay between them, "reminds us that [parents, educators and children] are living in the greatest scientific era ever," says Sharpe. "We’re missing out if we don’t understand it."

Among the local speakers will be Terri Collins, who will present on the topic of math without tears; Deb Pegram, who will discuss academic evaluations for the homeschooled child; Scott Duncan, who will examine role-playing games in the classroom; and Ann Duncan, who will speak on the topic of keeping an organized home and homeschool.

Connie Lapallo will advise on teaching literary styles and writing techniques through book discussions, and Janice Campbell will address the process of building a high school transcript.

Other speakers will focus on beginning homeschooling; homeschooling in the tween and teen years; choosing curriculum materials; techniques for nature education; and homeschool socialization. Conference activities will also include a musical jam session, a magic show, amazing animals, a Mad Science performance, Friday night talent show, ice cream social, and book fair.

On March 25 from 4:30 pm.- 5:30 pm., VaHomeschoolers will offer a free Beginning Homeschooling session, covering all issues that beginning or prospective homeschoolers might encounter. A representative from The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers will answer questions about Virginia homeschooling laws, filing requirements and general information for finding support and homeschooling activities throughout the state.

Established in 1993, the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers (VaHomeschoolers) promotes and protects the interests of Virginia homeschoolers through legislative work, assistance to individual homeschoolers, and by providing information, speakers, events and resources.

Homeschoolers from across the state, says Sharpe, look forward to the conference each March as a chance to compare notes with friends and mentors and to share their experiences with the rewards and challenges of being parent-educators.

For details and a schedule, visit http://vahomeschoolers.org/conference.
– Patty Kruszewski contributed to this article
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