Virginia parents who opted for a home-school alternative prior to the pandemic, and those who added to the ranks during the COVID era, have been gathering in Richmond this weekend to share ideas and camaraderie while also supporting those considering making a change to home-schooling.
“We know firsthand the excitement and doubts that come with beginning a homeschool journey. This is why we put together three days packed with learning, inspiration, new and used curricula and resources, hands-on fun, connection, information and some of the best speakers in the country,” said Anne Miller, president and executive director of Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV), which organized the 39th annual Virginia Homeschool Convention.
The event has returned to an in-person format after “virtual” gatherings in 2020 and 2021. One of the nation’s largest homeschool events, this year’s three-day convention will feature Creation Museum founder and author Ken Ham; Celebrate Kids founder and author Dr. Kathy Koch; and president of Walk Thru the Bible, Phil Tuttle, among many others.
Being held June 9-11 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, the event also is featuring hands-on workshops and presentations for registered attendees, along with several free-to-the-public workshops in both English and Spanish. An all-day special-needs conference also was part of the agenda.
The convention also was slated to feature programs for children and teens, a college and career fair, plus workshops for parents. Non-home-schooling grandparents, as well as first-time pastors and non-home-schooling pastors, received free registration.
In addition, a “home-school graduation” ceremony featuring 200 graduates was planned, along with STEM and hands-on incentives including a robotics expo, chess tournament, soldering class, 3-D-printer-building class, hands-on fossils, and more. There also was a college-and-career fair scheduled.
Home-schooling was on the upswing across Virginia even before the pandemic.
The decision by many school districts across the commonwealth to effectively shut down in-person instruction for nearly a year – in some cases, longer – led some parents to seek out alternatives, including home-schooling as well as private and parochial schools.
Home Educators Association of Virginia, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1983 when three mothers set up a card table at the General Assembly to promote home-schooling options for youth. In 1996, the organization established a permanent office and three years later hired its first permanent staff.