Friday, March 10, 2017

Attending the HEAV Convention With Children

My favorite time of year is approaching: Homeschool Convention Season. I prepare all year long for this one weekend (although there are many conventions, I only attend this one). The HEAV (Home Educators Association of Virginia) is one of the largest conventions in the US. It is faith-based but has a lot more than just religion to offer (although that is one of my favorite aspects).

The whole convention is very family-friendly. Obviously, us homeschoolers have lots of kids and have to bring them everywhere we go. But, no matter what your family size may be, you and your children are welcome and encouraged to participate in the many learning sessions and exhibits.

While the sessions may seem daunting to a family with lots of "littles", they are easy to figure out. There are a few guidelines to attending the sessions with little ones in tow. Bring things for your child to do to keep them busy and quiet. I have seen everything from board books to coloring books to iPads with earphones. Whatever floats your boat and is right for your family. Just make sure it is a quiet activity as each session is being recorded. If you must leave a session because of a fussy baby or inquisitive toddler, ask the session moderator for a ticket to get a free mp3 of the session to listen to later.

Children ages five to twelve can attend the Children's Program for $20 per day. This program runs on Friday and Saturday during the convention and has convenient hours to drop off and pick up. This program is truly amazing. The theme this year is "Jesus is Stronger". They will learn about Jesus through storytelling, crafts, and special guests (Happy Jumpy and her sidekicks). Children will be encouraged in their faith and learn new songs, Bible verses, and games. It is a blessing to all who have attended in past years.

If you have older children (or children who want to stay with you), there are many opportunities to learn and have fun. The HEAV offers a variety of different labs, tournaments, and competitions for children. This year there will be a dissection lab, chess championship, photography opportunities, music competition, or teens can volunteer to work the Children's Program. They also offer another option for teens, the Young Entrepreneurs. This is in the exhibit hall and the teens offer a product that they have made by themselves to sell.

Older children can also volunteer at the HEAV to help in certain areas. One area that teens usually like is the Used Curriculum Sale. They can help organize the items, put things back in there proper place, check out customers, or bag the items. I love seeing the older children in there helping. They seem to enjoy it very much (at least from what I have witnessed with their smiling faces).

Even just walking around in the Exhibit Hall will give you many hands-on experiences. There are little shops set up just for kids. There a robotics expo, a musical instrument "petting zoo", and a marine touch tank by Chincoteague Bay Field Station. Children will have a blast at the hands-on science booth by Sciexperience. That one is probably the most exciting for my kids.

If you are hesitant about bringing your children to the HEAV Convention, I urge you to go ahead and come. Children are the whole reason we have a convention in the first place. Our children are very important to us and that's why we have chosen to homeschool them. Come and be encouraged and inspired by the thousands of other homeschooling families. It is such a blessing.

*Please come back and visit my blog on the week of March 22nd. I will be having a GIVEAWAY for a family registration to the HEAV (June 8, 9, and 10 at the Richmond Convention Center).*

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