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©  2003 by Amelia Harper. All rights reserved

Below is a collection of homeschool-related articles written by Amelia Harper.

Some have helpful links to other information. Please click on the article that you would like to read.

All articles on this page are copyrighted by Amelia Harper. If you would like permission to reprint an article for print or web use,

please contact Amelia Harper here.

ARTICLE TITLES

The Great Homeschooling Debate: Is Homeschooling an option for me?

How to Begin Your Homeschool Journey

The Value of Homeschool Conventions

Reasons to Attend a Homeschool Convention

Frugal Field Trips for Family Fun

Field Trip Resources

Media Matters: Creating Positive Media Relationships

Sample Press Release for Homeschool Groups

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The Great Homeschooling Debate: Is Homeschooling an Option for Me?

By Amelia Harper

            More than twenty years ago, when my husband and I set about our commanded duties to replenish the earth, we were soon faced with a crop of adorable children and a big decision—where now to educate them? The choices seemed bleak.

            Public schools were out for us. We had both seen first-hand the violence and bullying at our public schools—ones that also failed to make the grade educationally. We wanted something better for our children.

            Private schools were a somewhat better option. However, private schools fees did not fit in with our decision for me to be a stay-at-home mom. Also, as a private school graduate, I was painfully aware that private schools offered their own set of social challenges.

            So we began to look at the newly-emerging option of homeschooling. At first, the idea filled me with trepidation. Who was I to think that I would be able to teach my kids all they needed to know? Though I had attended college, I did not have an education degree. However, we agreed to try it for one year.

            That was 17 years ago. What I discovered astonished me. Not only was it far easier to teach my children than I realized, it was a fulfilling, enjoyable experience to watch my child’s mind bloom under my own nurturing. The children’s test scores soon indicated that they were thriving and so we continued the adventure.

            Our homeschooling experience is hardly unique. In the past twenty years, the concept of homeschooling has taken hold in this nation. In the mid 1980’s, when we began to homeschool, educational researchers estimated that that there were fewer than 50,000 children being homeschooled in the U.S. Now, twenty years later, the Department of Education estimates that over 1.1 million children are being educated at home. Because of varying state laws and definitions of homeschooled students, other researchers put the current figures at closer to 2 million. According to that statistic, almost 1 in every 25 school-aged children in the US is now being taught at home..

            As the growing ranks of homeschooling families can attest, home education has many distinct advantages. Mounting evidence indicates that homeschooled children are often more well-rounded educationally, socially, and spiritually than their counterparts who learn in more traditional settings. However, there is a great deal to consider before you choose this option. We will explore these advantages, as well as the challenges that face those who decide to homeschool.

EDUCATIONAL ADVANTAGES

            Research from almost every source now confirms that homeschooled childen score significantly higher on nationally standardized achievement tests than children in public schools. What is even more surprising is that they score significantly higher than the more expensive private schools as well. In fact, research by Lawrence Rudner in the Education Policy Analysis Archives concludes that by eighth grade, homeschooled students are four years ahead of students in traditional schools.

            Educational officials defend these disquieting results by pointing out that homeschooled students possess significant advantages such as stable home situations; supportive, involved parents; flexibility in the choice of curriculum; and individual attention for the student. It is not fair, they say, to compare the results of homeschooled students and those taught in classrooms where the needs of many children from a wide range of academic and family backgrounds have to be considered.

            All that is true. Teachers have a tough job in the classroom and they deserve our respect for what they are trying to accomplish. However, if you are one of those who are willing and able to devote time and resources to your child’s education, it is comforting to know that homeschooling is proven to produce excellent educational results. The very statistical advantages that the educators cite for homeschooling families are the reasons why it so successful.

SOCIAL ADVANTAGES

            According to the National Center for Education Statistics, concern over the social environment in public schools was cited as the number one reason why parents homeschooled. Yet one of the biggest questions that most homeschooling parents hear is the ever-present cry, “What about socialization? Won’t your child become a warped human being if he is sheltered from his peer group day after day?”

            However, psychological research has now proven that the opposite is true. Nationwide research by Dr. John Taylor revealed that homeschooled students generally scored significantly higher in all areas of the Piers- Harris Self-Concept Scale. Another independent study, the Galloway-Sutton Study performed in 1997, indicated that homeschooled students excelled above their traditionally schooled counterparts in measures of four success indicators (academic, cognitive, spiritual, and affective-social). Only in the area of psychomotor (physical) skills, did they fall behind.

            Though homeschooled students may sometimes have less exposure to their peer group than other children, they do spend more time with their families, which tend to be significantly larger than the norm. Homeschooling fosters the sort of bonds that were originally intended as the social basis for all humans: the family unit. Ultimately, it is this type of socialization that will help them weather the storms of life.

SPIRITUAL ADVANTAGES

            According to NCES, the second most cited reason (30%) for homeschooling was the desire to provide religious or moral instruction to their children.  Many Christian parents are turning to homeschooling as a way to shelter their children from the concepts of humanism and evolution which pervade the public school curriculum. Others are concerned about how the influences of the peer group will spiritually impact their children. Still others are concerned about the anti-God bias that is prevalent in many public schools. If God is not welcome, they say, neither is my child.

            Parents are ultimately the ones that God holds responsible for the education of the children whom He entrusts to them. This is not to say that parents cannot use schools, teachers, or tutors to help in the process; however, in the end, all of these things are merely tools that a parent can use to direct their children on God’s paths. If these educational tools begin to interfere with that goal, then parents are the ones who must look for other options. God gives children to parents, not to institutions. That gives us an awesome responsibility to consider our options as mold these precious gifts from God.

COMMITMENT CONSIDERATIONS

            Although, I am a veteran homeschooler, I am not a militant one. Homeschooling is not for everyone. It does involve a big commitment and requires spending a great quantity of time with one’s own offspring. It requires acceptance of the fact that your house will likely never be totally immaculate again. Homeschooling also requires sacrifices of personal time, dreams, and ambitions—or perhaps, acceptance of new dreams and ambitions in their place.

            Though, you do have a lot of flexibility with homeschooling, you must always keep in mind that you must be educating your child on some level, or they will not be taught at all. For some people, this is a responsibility that they are not yet mature enough to handle. For others, major health issues may interfere with the time and energy it takes. God can overcome even these situations, but they must be prayerfully considered.

FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS

            Homeschooling a child means that, in most cases, one parent needs to be at home. This will mean a financial setback for many families—one that needs to be considered. You may need to move to a less expensive house, pay off debts, or reprioritize financial goals in order to accomplish this. Of course, as the children grow older, some homeschooling mothers do contribute financially, often through home-based or family businesses. According to the most recent U.S. Census figures, 40% of homeschool moms work in some capacity in the labor force compared to 70% of mothers with school-aged children nationwide.

            Homeschooling also involves financial sacrifices for curriculum and materials. According to the National Homeschool Education Research Institute, homeschool families spend an annual average of $450 per child to homeschool their children. However, some of this cost is offset by special clothing, transportation, and materials costs that the family would naturally have to spend if the child attended public schools. For most homeschooling families, the financial sacrifices are small in comparison to what they gain from the experience.

RELATIONSHIP CONSIDERATIONS

            Sadly, when I discuss homeschooling with people, I hear this response more than any other: “I would love to homeschool my child, but I can’t. He never listens to a word I say.”

            It is true that homeschooling is much more efficient and enjoyable if you have a good relationship with your children, but this attitude is frightening. I always want to reply, “If your child never listens to a word you say, you have much bigger problems than education to worry about.” I also wonder how teachers are expected to teach a classroom of kids who are sent there because their own parents cannot control them. Some families find that homeschooling can help correct some of these broken relationships, but it can be a challenge.

            Other moms want to homeschool, but find that their husbands are violently opposed to the idea. Surely, it is better to submit to your husband in this matter than to endure the strife of strained marriage relationship. Homeschooling is challenging enough as it is without the added conflict of an unsupportive home environment. If a mom truly feels called to homeschool, she should provide her husband with information about homeschooling and pray that he will find God’s will for the family in this matter. Then she should follow his leading, whatever that leading is. Homeschooling can be a grand adventure, but it is one that should be carefully considered. For those who are led to accept the challenge, the rewards can be immeasurable.

 

Amelia Harper is the author of Literary Lessons from The Lord of the Rings, a complete one-year literature curriculum for secondary level home school students. She is also the Contributing Media Editor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. She is also a pastor’s wife and the homeschooling mother of five. This article first appeared in LifeLine Journal, a Christian Women’s Magazine.

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How to Begin Your Homeschooling Adventure

By Amelia Harper

     Perhaps you have prayerfully considered the decision to homeschool your children and have decided to begin the homeschooling adventure. However, you may be now asking yourself, “Where do I begin?”

            Homeschooling is not difficult, but it will take some preliminary research on your part. Fortunately, there are tons of great resources out there and the list is growing every day. Below is a list of suggestions to get you started.

1.         Find out about the laws in your state.

            There is no federal oversight of education, so the laws differ widely from state to state. Some states require almost no accountability, whereas others will regulate you to distraction. Some homeschoolers prefer to remain underground and refuse to register with the state at all. In most areas, this is a dangerous practice. By refusing to follow the laws stipulated, you can set yourself up for all kinds of legal trouble, as well as making the way harder for those who homeschool legally.

             Be aware, however, of the difference between requirements for homeschoolers and suggestions for homeschoolers. Some states list regulations that are not strictly required by law. Just watch the wording of the laws and consult with your state homeschool association if you have questions. The best way to find out about the laws is to go the website for the Home School Legal Defense Association (www.hslda.org). By following the links, you can find the laws for your state as well as contact information for your state homeschool organization.

2.         Get connected and stay informed.

            Once you find out the support organization in your state, ask where you can find local homeschool groups in your area. Homeschoolers are great at networking, so chances are that you will find at least one in your area. If you know of someone in your area that homeschools already, they can likely direct you to these groups, which are an important source of information, encouragement, and socialization for the kids—and you!

            If you can’t find a good support group, or want more sources of information, try subscribing to the growing list of homeschool magazines, such as The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, The Teaching Home, or Homeschooling Today. Also, explore homeschool e-zines, loops, and blog sites on the Internet. Homeschoolblogger.com is a great place to start.

3.         If possible, attend homeschool conventions or find homeschool bookstores in your area.

            Homeschool conventions and book fairs can be found in every state these days. Your state organization will likely have a list or you can do some Internet searching on your own. Many larger cities also have bookstores that carry homeschool supplies: even if there is not a specific homeschool bookstore, you can often find homeschooling sections in Christian or educational bookstores.

            Exploring these resources will help you make curriculum choices for your family. It can be overwhelming. Most of these materials available for homeschoolers are creative, high-quality, innovative products. In fact, many public school teachers and professional tutors are now looking for products in the homeschool marketplace to supplement the bland and limited selection usually available to them.

4.         Decide on the approach you want to use in homeschooling.

            There are many approaches to homeschooling. There is no one “right way.” The trick is to find the one that works best for you! Below, we define just some of the many approaches so that you can be better prepared for the homeschool lingo. If you are totally confused by the choices, find a homeschooling friend that you trust and who seems to have similar goals. Then you can use the approach that she uses until you have the time and confidence to explore other options.

            Traditional- the traditional method uses a “boxed curriculum” that contains student and teachers manuals, tests and teaching suggestions. Often, these are the same books used for schools, but may have adapted homeschool teacher’s manuals. The best known of these are the curriculums produced by Bob Jones University and A Beka. Parents are still responsible for assignments, grading and record-keeping.

LINKS:

Bob Jones University    www.bjupress.com                                                                     

A Beka     www.abeka.org    
Calvert School --
(secular—has evolution  elements)     www.calvertschool.org                                                                            

            Correspondence- these programs use a prepared, accredited curriculum and require constant interaction and progress reports from you. In return, they maintain records, offer support, and produce professional grade cards and transcripts. Calvert Schools is the best known of these, though there are now several options. In addition, many traditional publishers now offer some of these same services.

LINKS:

Calvert School --
(secular—has evolution  elements)     www.calvertschool.org                                                                            

 

            The Video Classroom-  Several major homeschool publishers now offer classes in a DVD or satellite format. These allow your student to watch a teacher instruct a class and give assignments. However, you are still usually responsible for the administration and grading of tests and assignments.

LINKS:

Bob Jones University       www.bjupress.com                                                                                   

A Beka    www.abeka.org    
 

            Self- paced programs- These programs, like the School of Tomorrow program by Accelerated Christian Education, offer self- instructed lessons that let students advance at their own pace. Students must achieve an acceptable pass score on one set of lessons in order to advance to the next one. Alpha Omega offers a similar program with addition of some exciting computer options, such as the Switched-On Schoolhouse.

LINKS:

Alpha Omega LIFEPACS                                           

 www.aop.com

 Accelerated Christian Education                      

www.schooloftomorrow.com/homeschool

Switched- On Schoolhouse    (computer option)                  

 www.aop.com

  Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum (computer option)

 www.robinsoncurriculum.com

 

            Unit Studies- this approach focuses on an integrated study of one topic at a time and allows several children to study together. For instance, a family may study astronomy by reading about astronomy, visiting a planetarium, writing reports about historical figures in astronomy, building a model of the solar system, using math skills to calculate light-years, etc. Children are assigned projects suitable for their own age level. KONOS is the best known provider of these studies.

LINKS:

KONOS Character Curriculum                  

www.konos.com

The Weaver Curriculum                                     

www.aop.com

Five in a Row          

www.fiveinarow.com

 

            Classical – the classical approach favors language, Latin and logic skills and focuses on the tried-and-true learning pattern of the trivium-- grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. This approach emphasizes how to learn and to communicate what you have learned, instead of drilling specific facts. Susan Wise Bauer’s book , The Well-Trained Mind, is the best source for information on this topic, but many homeschool publishers, such as Veritas Press,  HomeScholar Books, and Classical Academic Press, also offer classical resources.

LINKS:

Trivium Pursuit On-line                                                             

  www.triviumpursuit.com

The Well-Trained Mind                                                       

 www.welltrainedmind.com

 

   Charlotte Mason – the Charlotte Mason approach emphasizes "twaddle-free" education that employs "living literature," nature studies, journaling and discussion as a part of a child centered approach to life-long learning and thinking.

LINKS:

A Charlotte Mason Education  

http://homemade.truepath.com/cmed.htm

Ambleside                                            

http://www.amblesideonline.org/index.shtml

  (This is the site of a Charlotte Mason School, but it has the text of Charlotte Mason Books and                                           some excellent resources online.)

            Unschooling or “delight-directed” learning- this approach does not use standard curriculum, but follows the interest of the child in learning. For instance, if the child expresses an interest in butterflies, then the parent capitalizes on that interest by using it as a basis of instruction. Unschooling does not focus on workbooks and textbooks but rather focuses on learning as a life-long process.

LINKS:

Unschooling: Delight-Driven Learning   

  www.homeeducate.com/unschooling

 Unschooling.com                              

   http://www.unschooling.com

(provides good starting point for definitions and resources)

John Holt and Growing Without Schooling

http://www.holtgws.com/index.html

 Amy Bell’s Natural Learning Page      

http://home.rmci.net/abell

 

            Eclectic- in reality, this is probably the most used approach, for it combines elements of the others.  For instance, you may lean to a classical approach, but use delight-directed unit studies to supplement history and science studies. Or you use the traditional method, but use DVDs or computer courses for some subjects. The beauty of homeschooling is the you can explore what works best for you and your child. This is an option that most traditional classrooms don’t have.

5.         Make learning a part of life.  One of the best aspects of homeschooling is that children (and parents) can learn a great deal in the course of ordinary chores and projects in addition to more structured learning activities. With a little practice and creativity, you can turn many regular life activities into learning experiences that will benefit your children. For instance, the kitchen is a great place to learn counting, measurement, fractions—even basic science principles like the states of matter (watch water freeze and turn into steam!) Instruct a child on the use of a map on a road trip (even a local one) and travel suddenly builds reference-skills and life skills as well. Keep nature guides on hand and back-yard play suddenly becomes a science field trip as your children begin to identify the wildlife and insects in your corner of the world.  Children are natural learners when the right resources are placed in their hands. Watching them flourish is part of joy of homeschooling.

6.         Relax! Finally, as you begin your homeschool journey, remember to relax! The biggest mistake that most new homeschoolers make is that they try to be too structured and expect too much of themselves. Remember that you are homeschooling, not just having school at home! So, be prepared for constant interruptions and remain flexible. Set academic goals to accomplish each day, but don’t despair if you cannot always meet them. Life happens. And kids learn from life as well.

Amelia Harper, a pastor’s wife and the homeschooling mother of five, is the author of Literary Lessons from The Lord of the Rings, a complete one-year literature curriculum for secondary level home schooled students, published by HomeScholar Books. She is currently also a Contributing Editor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and has had other hundreds of other articles published in newspapers, magazines, reference books, and on-line journals. A version of this article first appeared in LifeLine Journal, a Christian Women’s Magazine.

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THE VALUE OF HOMESCHOOL CONVENTIONS

 By Amelia Harper and Deborah Wuehler

Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Winter 2005

            If you are like most of us, you are probably just a tad discouraged about now. You are in the thick of homeschooling. Lessons are a little behind schedule, especially after the holidays. The curriculum you chose just isn’t working out the way you hoped. Somewhere down the line, the organizational charts have disappeared and you suspect that the dog ate them. Your kids have started to ask questions that you can’t answer, and you may feel very, very alone. Boarding school is starting to look like an attractive option.

            Cheer up! Homeschool convention season is just around the corner!

            Homeschool conventions are a great place to learn what went wrong and to share the excitement of what went right during your homeschooling year. You can learn how to get better organized, find new answers to puzzling problems, grow encouraged, and do what homeschooling moms love to do most—shop for new school materials!

            Homeschooling conventions have grown tremendously as the market itself has grown. Almost every state now hosts at least one homeschool convention, with more active states hosting several. Vendors vie for slots at these conventions, eager to display their wares. Speakers get valuable exposure, while attendees benefit from the wisdom that they share.

            According to Nancy St. Marie, Convention Vice President for North Carolinians for Home Education (NCHE), the true success of a state convention is not measured in terms of its present size, but in terms of its growth. “The ‘best’ conference is the one that meets the needs of the homeschoolers who attend,” she said. “The best measure of this is that the conference is still going and growing. In North Carolina, we feel we are reaching a large portion of the homeschoolers in our state, but we are always trying to do it better.”

            By any measure, the NC state convention is one of the largest and best organized in the nation. Last year, nearly 9000 people attended the huge event which is held in the largest convention center in the state. Other large conventions include the Florida (FPEA) State Convention, which had nearly 10,000 attendees last year, the Pennsylvania (CHAP) Convention, which had nearly 7500 attendees, and the California (CHEA) Convention which had roughly 5500 in attendance at its largest convention in Ontario.

            Whether large or small, homeschool conventions offer a wide variety of events to help and encourage those who have chosen the path of homeschooling. Conventions vary widely in scope and offerings. Often these factors depend on the size of the homeschooling population in the state, the structure of the state homeschool organization, and the length of time a convention has been held in that state. Some larger conventions offer graduation programs, talent shows, and special programs for school age children and teens. Some conventions are broad in scope and present a wide variety of ideas and approaches for attendees to explore, whereas others are focused on certain ideals or approaches.

            Convention organizers estimate that between 20 and 30 percent of convention attendees are either new homeschoolers or those considering the possibility. Most of the rest are veteran homeschoolers who are looking for new ideas and desiring to increase their knowledge. A few attendees are business people, there to connect with publishers or vendors. The rest consist of the curious: those who simply want to know more about the homeschool community.

             Some of the convention terms may be confusing to first time conventioneers. However, most conventions offer the following activities, often expressed in these terms.

KEYNOTE ADDRESSESKeynote addresses are typically speeches given by a nationally-known homeschooling figure and deal with issues that are relevant to most homeschoolers. They are often the most inspiring and encouraging speeches given. Usually, these keynote addresses are scheduled so that they are the only event offered in that time period. Announcements pertaining to the convention are also usually made during this time, so it is important to attend these sessions, if possible.

WORKSHOPS OR SESSIONSThese sessions generally run an hour in length and deal with specific issues regarding homeschooling or family life. Usually, several of these run concurrently and you have to choose the ones that suit your needs. Most convention programs provide a brief description of the workshop as well as codes that indicate whether the workshop is more appropriate for moms of young children, moms of elementary or secondary-level students, dads, teens, etc. This information will help you select the workshops best for you. If you want to attend more sessions than are physically possible, tapes are usually available for purchase.

VENDOR (OR EXHIBITOR) WORKSHOPSThese workshops are usually 30 minutes in length and are sort of “infomercials” for vendor products. Vendors generally pay for this time in order to explain their products more fully to prospective buyers and to answer questions concerning them. These sessions are a great way to learn more about curriculum ideas that are new to you or to learn how to use the programs more effectively. Often, you will meet the author of the curriculum and can ask questions about how to adapt the program for your own special needs. These are low-sales-pressure events and are usually purely informative. If you decide to purchase the curriculum, you will usually buy it in the vendor hall.

VENDOR HALL or EXHIBIT HALLVendors of curriculum and related homeschool products gather here to display and sell their products. According to the The Economist magazine, the homeschool market is now worth about 850 million dollars a year, so more and more vendors are turning their attention to the homeschool market, creating products adapted to suit their needs. In addition, experienced homeschooling parents are beginning to develop more curriculum products on their own as they discover what works best for them and begin to fill needed gaps in the market. Small conventions may have only a few vendors, whereas large conventions may have 150 or more. However, you are sure to see some new products wherever you go. Some conventions also offer a used curriculum area so that parents can swap or sell their old books.

             Perhaps you have heard of homeschool conventions for years, but have never bothered to attend one. Perhaps this whole idea is new to you. Or perhaps it has just been too difficult to attend.       It can be inconvenient for some families. Most conventions request that small children not come, unless they are nursing infants. This is not an act of callousness, but a necessary request where space is at a premium. Also, since sessions are being taped, the possibility of noise naturally generated by younger children is not welcome. So attending a convention may involve finding an accommodating friend or relative to keep the young ones.

Therefore, you may be wondering why you should go to all the time, trouble, and expense of attending a convention. What benefits can attendance give you? Is it really worth it? Before you make a decision, first look at the many great reasons you should attend a convention. Here are some factors you may want to consider before you decide to join the growing ranks of homeschool conventioneers.

 

The Wow Factor

             “The first benefit is always the “Wow” factor when someone arrives at the convention,” explained Cheryl Boglioli, State Chairman of the Florida Parent Educator’s Convention (FPEA). “It is an awesome experience to realize that you are not alone in this endeavor and there are so many families of all walks of life with the same objectives.”

            “Awesome” is also how Scott Adams describes his first convention trip to the North Carolina Convention last year. Scott has four small children, but the concept of homeschooling is one that is fairly new to him—an idea that he at first greeted with skepticism. “I was surprised by the attendance. It was amazing seeing all those families there—and there were far more men there than I expected. It really changed my view of homeschooling. It is one thing to hear about the numbers of families that are doing it; it is another to actually see them gathered together!”

 

The Encouragement Factor

             Fearful new homeschoolers as well as veterans near the end of their journey are both in desperate need of encouragement. A homeschool convention with powerful and motivating speakers provides enough encouragement for both. New homeschoolers come away feeling like they can actually accomplish what they are setting out to do and veterans are given the precious fuel they need to continue on the journey.

            Kim Roper, Events Director for the California Home Educator’s Association (CHEA), explained how conventions benefit both veterans and newcomers to the homeschool community: “Newcomers often reignite the passion for homeschooling in seasoned veterans. The veterans, in turn, often give timely wisdom and understanding to new home educators who may be discouraged.”   

 

The Camaraderie Factor

            No one among us likes the feeling of being alone in our convictions. The homeschool convention provides an atmosphere of camaraderie by sharing with large numbers of families the strong conviction to provide for our own children’s educational needs. It is revitalizing when we realize that we are not in this journey alone.

            In addition, homeschool conventions are a great place to gather with others and discuss the successes and the failures of the past year. Learning that someone else is having the same problem is almost as beneficial as actually finding a solution! Since many homeschool parents have little support from family or community, this is especially important.

            “It comes down to support,” explained Kim Roper. “The Scriptures tell us, in Hebrews 10:23–25, that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, but that we should encourage one another. Obviously, Paul is talking about attending church in this passage, but I believe the principle also applies to home educators. We can be an independent lot and often forget that we can’t do this alone!”

 

The Convenience Factor

            So many product catalogs come in the mail and you have so little time to read them! At a convention, large numbers of homeschool vendors are represented and the opportunity to actually see their wares is a great advantage over merely reading about them. Vendor workshops often add the ability to learn how to use the products effectively in your own homeschool.

            “For vendors, the greatest part of attending conventions is meeting the people,” said Christi Patterson, Events Coordinator of Alpha Omega. “Having the time to hear their stories and helping them to find the perfect product for their students is a great benefit. The face-to-face interaction that we have at conventions is unparalleled. We have customers that specifically call and ask for reps that they met at conventions because of the bond they formed in that little time together.”

 

The Economic Factor

            Though there are costs associated with attending a convention, there are pay-offs as well. You will have the ability to compare products and prices. You can ask others for recommendations and advice that may help you avoid costly mistakes. In addition, some vendors offer special discounts at conventions.

            “We introduce many new items at conventions and super discounts are available,” explained Tina Tatum, the owner of Discount Homeschool Supplies. “It is also our best time to offer free shipping and discounts for local orders.”

            However, some vendors have a different approach; an approach that they feel will also benefit customers economically in the end. “Sonlight Curriculum does not offer special pricing at conventions because we provide special pricing and benefits to all customers all year long,” explained Janice Hammersmith, Sonlight’s Curriculum Consultant Coordinator. “Choosing the right homeschool curriculum for your family is a very big decision that takes time and research, and we do not want customers to feel pressured to buy at a convention because they receive a special deal,” Janice added. “We want homeschooling families to be able to take the necessary time to choose the best curriculum fit. If customers find the right curriculum the first time they purchase, they won’t have to deal with the headaches of finding another curriculum in the future and returning the curriculum that didn’t work.”

 

The Spiritual Factor

Oftentimes our hearts are convicted of a certain road to travel with our families, but our minds are not totally convinced. Conventions can bring the confirmation needed that you are definitely on the right road and that you really did hear God’s voice in your decisions. Most conventions offer devotional workshops that serve to remind you that God is the Source from which everything you have to offer your family flows.

“I think one of the most important reasons to attend a homeschool conference is that the Bible teaches, regarding salvation, that those with shallow roots would not flourish,” explains Melanie Young, whose husband serves as President of NCHE. “I think this is true of homeschooling as well.”

“Over the years, the families that I have seen succeed at homeschooling are those with deep roots—a strong spiritual and philosophical basis for their homeschooling,” she added. “Convention is where you get that! Convention is like a spiritual retreat where you can get away from the everyday cares of homeschooling and focus on why you are doing this—and how you can do it better. The roots that you will grow in response to the speakers and fellowship will help you weather the storms of poor health, financial difficulties, struggling learners, and unsupportive family.”

 

The Connection Factor

Conventions are a perfect environment for renewing old connections or for connecting with groups or organizations that will help you on your journey. Memberships to national organizations as well as local organizations are made available. You are given the opportunity to reconnect with acquaintances or vendors and ask the questions that have been burning in your mind all year. Staying connected can give you the strength and support needed to keep going.

Conventions also give you the chance to evaluate organizations such as HLSDA and your state homeschool organizations to see if they will help your own family stay as connected as it should be. “I was skeptical at first about the need to join my state organization,” said convention attendee Lynn Adams. Adams, who is homeschooling for the first time this year, attended her first convention in 2003. “But when I saw all that my state organization did, all the services they offered in keeping me informed, I decided that I wanted to be a part of that.”

 

The Thinking Factor

Many homeschooling moms rarely get some time off to really think through what they would like to see happen in their homeschool. Time spent at a convention allows them the freedom and time they so desperately need to process through all of their plans and ideas. A convention offers parents a chance to gain a great deal of important information from a variety of homeschool sources.

Speakers are a big part of this equation. Homeschool conventions often gather the best and brightest stars of the homeschool community who share wonderful ideas, provoke thoughtful discussions, and make themselves available for consultation. “Our speakers care about those who come to the convention,” said Muffy Amico, the Convention Coordinator for FPEA. “They give of their time, talent, and resources to help encourage the attendees in this journey of homeschooling.”

 

The Fun Factor

             Homeschool conventions can be a time of laughter and fun as we reconnect with friends and share experiences—some wonderful, some disastrous, and some hilarious. Many conventions offer planned activities for the children or workshops for teens, giving the moms and dads time to shop or attend much-needed workshops or seminars themselves. Some also offer family nights where everyone is invited for an entertaining evening. Speakers and workshop leaders know first-hand the many tears and trials we go through as homeschoolers. Therefore, they are often down-to-earth and funny and can actually relate to what it takes to travel this road.

            So by now, maybe you are thinking that you should look up the homeschool convention in your state and check out the possibilities. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and the homeschool convention could just be the source of inspiration and encouragement that you need. Despite the cost and travel involved, you will likely return home as a better-equipped parent. As homeschool mom Lynn Adams explained, “We all need encouragement, guidance, and ideas. Homeschool conventions have all that.”

            Dr. Samuel Blumenfield, renowned author and homeschool conference speaker wrote an article entitled “The Boom in Homeschool Conventions,” in which he summed up their benefits this way: “I could write a book about these wonderful homeschool conventions, the families that attend them, and the fabulous entrepreneurs who offer their products to parents who truly care about their children’s well-being and happiness. If you want to see the beautiful benefits of educational freedom, go to a homeschool convention. You’ll love it!”

Amelia Harper, a pastor’s wife and the homeschooling mother of five, is the author of Literary Lessons from The Lord of the Rings, a complete one-year literature curriculum for secondary level home schooled students, published by HomeScholar Books. She is currently also a Contributing Editor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, where this article first appeared.

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TEN REASONS YOU SHOULD ATTEND A

HOMESCHOOL CONVENTION THIS YEAR

 by Amelia Harper

1.         You can gain new ideas and find creative resources.

            Many vendors reveal new product offerings at conventions. You will at least find            ideas that you have never seen before!

2.         You can examine curricula offerings first hand.

            There is no substitute for seeing a curriculum first-hand and judging your child’s reaction to it. A curriculum is much more successful if the child is motivated by  it!

3.         You can meet with old friends and make new ones.

            Conventions are a great place to find kindred spirits! We all can use that kind of            support.

4.         You will hear and meet interesting speakers and authors of curricula.

             This is your chance to rub elbows with some of the homeschooling leaders in our          country and benefit from their wisdom and experience.

5.         You will be energized and motivated by the excitement of the event.

            Homeschooling can be a draining experience. Conventions can renew your spirit            and strengthen your commitment to home education. Besides, they are often quite enjoyable!

6.         You can gain knowledge that will help explain your position to skeptical friends and family members.

            As you tell others what you have seen and heard at the convention, they will likely begin to understand that homeschooling is more main-stream and successful than they first thought.

7.         You can learn more about homeschooling issues that relate to your state.

            State conventions often have sessions dealing with important developments and challenges that relate to homeschooling in your own state. It is important to stay aware of these issues in order to protect homeschool freedoms.

8.         You can encourage the homeschooling leaders in your state.

            Your state leaders work hard to help you all year long, often at little or no pay. Someone went to a great deal of trouble to provide this convention for your         benefit. You can show your support by attending.

9.         You can save money by shopping more wisely and taking advantage of discounts.

            Some vendors offer special convention discounts. Even you if you do not take advantage of those, the ability to compare products and prices can save you money as you money down the road, because you can evaluate how well this product will meet the needs of your own family situation. The most cost-effective product is the one that works for you!

10.       You can learn how to teach your own children more effectively.

            Even teachers need lessons now and then! Chances are that have often wished you        knew more about a particular educational issue. Conventions are the place to learn. You may even have the chance to get personal advice with your own situations.

Amelia Harper, a pastor’s wife and the homeschooling mother of five, is the author of Literary Lessons from The Lord of the Rings, a complete one-year literature curriculum for secondary level home schooled students, published by HomeScholar Books. She is currently also a Contributing Editor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, where this article first appeared.

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Treasured Memories:

Frugal Field Trips for Family Fun

By Amelia Harper

            Education doesn’t end in the summer. Family vacations can combine relaxation with incredible learning opportunities as your family travels to new destinations, even if you are only visiting friends or relatives. One of the best ways to provide educational field trips is to expose your kids to the many fine zoos, aquariums, and science museums scattered strategically around our nation and indeed, around the world.

            Zoos and aquariums fascinate children and allow them to see the wonders of God’s creation in its infinite variety. Kids love animals and these centers provide them with an opportunity to encounter creatures that they would never see in their own backyards. Most zoos and aquariums have exhibits that describe the animals and their habitat and so are living biology lessons for eager minds.

            Inquiring minds are also intrigued by the marvelous exhibits at the science and technology centers that are available in most large cities. Here students can find the answers to many of the probing questions that (perhaps) parents are not equipped to answer. Often, these centers provide hands-on exhibits that demonstrate everything from physics principles to the process of digestion. Almost invariably, parents themselves will come away with something new that they have learned as well.

          For some larger families, the cost of these places may, at first glance, seem prohibitive. These centers tend to run in the $8-12 range for adults and in the $6-10 range for children 3 and up. Some places are even higher. However, there are some strategies that you can use to reduce your costs and to make your visit more enjoyable and beneficial. These tips can be used year round and may have you suddenly searching for ways to incorporate educational field trips in all of your travel plans.

           

1.         Check into family memberships.

            Most science centers and many zoos and aquariums offer family memberships. Though these memberships may be more expensive than a single visit, they become real bargains if you visit these centers more than once a year, even at a different location.

            For instance, a trip to the SciTrek Museum in Denver, CO will cost a typical family of six $44.00—a hefty chunk of change for a single visit. However, a family membership to the museum will cost $75—only $31 more. This will not only give the family significant discounts to the rates for other aspects of the museum (such as the planetarium, IMAX theater or gift shop), but it will also allow you and your family free admission to this museum and hundreds of other Association of Science and Technology (ASTC) museums across the nation for a full year!

            Zoos and Aquariums operate in much the same way. Typically, for about $60 a year, your family can support a zoo and gain free or vastly reduced admission to over 100 zoos and aquariums across the country through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). In addition, you will also get notification of special members-only programs throughout the year.

            Some other organizations work in similar ways. For instance, if your family is interested in flight, membership at the Museum of Flight museum in Seattle, Washington will gain you admission to several other similar museums across the West.

 

2.         Compare membership costs.

            Museum memberships typically work through reciprocal agreements with other organizations that are a part of their accrediting institution, such as the ASTC or the AZA. Once you become a member of one organization, most of the others agree to honor your membership card. However, membership costs do vary somewhat. You may be able to become a member of one science museum for $65 and of another for $75. In both cases, you still will have the same admissions benefits at other museums you visit. Most museums have list of reciprocal museums on their website. Usually, this information is listed with the membership benefit information, but you can also check the ASTC and AZA websites to find other member organizations along your travel path.

            Remember, however, that memberships also provide additional benefits at the host museum where you join and these benefits vary from center to center. Special benefits such as discounted or free admissions to special events and programs and discounts for the gift shop (where many educational products can be found) are not usually transferable. Also, not all member organizations will give free full admission. A few offer only half-price admissions with a membership card. In addition, sometimes other museums within a certain mile radius of the host museum are not required to offer discounts at all. It is always best to check with the museum or zoo you plan to visit to make sure of their policy regarding your membership card.

            If the prices are close enough, it is best to buy membership in the zoo, aquarium, or science museum that is nearest to you. Not only will you be sure of free admission at a convenient museum year-round, but you may be able to participate in special educational events available only to those on the membership roster.

 

3.         Include membership costs into your educational budget.

            One way to help avoid the shock of field trip costs is to budget for this when you plan your annual school budget. You may want to alternate memberships: Get a Zoo and Aquarium membership one year and a Science and Technology membership the next. Then, as you travel throughout the year, you can scope out free field trips for your family by using your membership card.

            Realize also that often a portion (or all) of your membership is tax deductible. The museum or zoo where you purchase membership will usually have details as to what you can deduct. In some states, educational expenses are becoming tax deductible as well. You may want to check with your tax advisor to see whether these memberships can ease your tax burden.

 

4.         Research FREE admission days at the zoos or museums.

            If you do not travel often enough to warrant a membership, but have a flexible schedule, it is well worth your time to check into free admissions times. Most zoos and museums have a few days each month or year when admission is free. Oftentimes, these admissions are sponsored by businesses for charitable purposes. You may be able to make travel or field trip plans based on these free days.

 

5.         Find FREE educational resources for your field trip.

            Many museums, zoos, and aquariums now have educational material posted on their websites. Often they are listed under teacher’s resources and are designed to use with classes to make the field trip experience more educational. You can usually print and copy these from the website, but if you do not have a website, either call ahead and ask, or inquire at the information desk on arrival. Usually the staff will have some printed copies available. This may save you a lot of time and can give you more ideas on how to expand this trip into a more complete study.

            Many organizations also have special events or short sessions that are designed to teach certain concepts. If you plan carefully, you may be able to let have your child take advantage of a unique learning opportunity at a place with far more resources than you could ever have available. Some science museums, such as the South Florida Science Museum in West Palm Beach, Florida even offer complete courses in science or math to homeschool students at reasonable rates. It may be worth your while to check with your local facility to see if they have similar offerings, or to suggest that they begin such classes.

 

6.         Don’t forget to look for Creation Science Museums

            The one major drawback of most science museums, zoos, and aquariums is that they are often highly biased toward an evolutionary world view. For many homeschool families, this bias is one of the major reasons that they homeschool in the first place. However, most science museums, zoos and aquariums offer so many great learning opportunities that it is hard to ignore them as a resource for this reason alone. Instead, you can use this as a learning opportunity to show how science is generally presented in the world and to discuss the differences between scientific facts and theories which cannot be proven.

            Even better, you can look for some of the great creation science museums that are cropping up across the nation. If your travel path takes you anywhere close to one of these museums, be sure to stop in. These offer a refreshing view of a biblical approach to science and creation and are often free or offered for a very low cost (though donations are always welcome). In doing so, you are not only exposing your child to the scientific basis for creation, but you will be supporting organizations that truly need your support.

 

7.         Look for special interest museums on your route.

            Also, don’t overlook small specialty museums tucked in various corners of your travel routes. Often, these small museums are labors of love and cost very little. For instance, in Nash County, NC, you can go well off the beaten path to visit the Country Doctor museum, the only one of its kind in the nation. There you will see leeches, an antique amputation saw, a medicinal herb garden, and various other accoutrements of the medical trade in the 18th and 19th century.

            The best way to search for these is to surf the Internet using a search engine such as Google or to contact the Tourism Bureau in your local area or the area to which you travel. If this seems time-consuming, let your older kids help.  This would make a great research topic for your teens and would make them feel more a part of the planning process.

 

8.         Plan ahead for all visits.

            Whenever you plan a visit to a museum, zoo, or aquarium, it is best to plan ahead by calling or checking for information on the website. Prepare a list of questions that you need answered such as:

            What are the hours (and days) of operation?

            Who long should you plan for the visit?

            What is the cost? Do they accept memberships in sister organizations?

            Are there any parking fees?

            Are you allowed to bring food and drinks? Are there affordable restaurants on the                                 premises or nearby?

            What are the directions to the center?

            Is there a special area for young children to play while older ones explore the                             museum?

 

            Planning ahead can help you minimize costs and avoid frustration for you and the entire family. It can also help transform a simple family field trip into a treasured family memory.

Amelia Harper, a pastor’s wife and the homeschooling mother of five, is the author of Literary Lessons from The Lord of the Rings, a complete one-year literature curriculum for secondary level home schooled students, published by HomeScholar Books. She is currently also a Contributing Editor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, where this article first appeared.

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Helpful Resources for Field Trip Planning

By Amelia Harper

 

American Zoo and Aquarium Association

       http://www.aza.org/FindZooAquarium/

          Phone: 301-562-0777

 

Association of Science-Technology Centers

       http://www.astc.org/sciencecenters/find_scicenter.htm

          Phone: 202/783-7200

         

Institute for Creation Research

           Santee, CA

            http://www.icr.org/museum/

            Phone: (619) 596-6011

 

Creation Museum and Family Discovery Center

           Petersburg, KY

          http://www.answersingenesis.org/museum/

          Phone: (859) 727-2222

 

Links to other Creation Science Museums

          http://www.nwcreation.net/museums.html

          http://www.creationresearch.org/organizations/organizations.html

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Media Matters: Creating Positive Media Relationships

By Amelia Harper

Homeschooling Father Plots Death of School Official

Homeschooling Mom Drowns Kids in Bathtub

Unsocialized Homeschooler Goes Beserk

Homeschooling Mom Kills Child to Prevent Exposure of Abuse

            These are just some of the headlines, ripped from recent news reports, TV dramas, and movies. No wonder many people view homeschool families with suspicion! Media impacts us all, whether we are the one reading the story or the one about whom the story is told. We pick up subtle (or not so subtle) messages about others from the way that they are presented to us on television, on films, on radio, or in the newspaper.

            But there is now more positive news being presented about homeschool families as well. As homeschooling families continue to win awards, to participate in positive community projects, or to impact political issues, the news is spreading—and it is good news for a change!

            Part of the reason for this increase in good news is because the homeschool community is waking up to the realization that we need to be proactive with our own message and to make the world aware of what is really going on in the homeschool community. As Ian Slatter, Director of Media Relations with the Homeschool Legal Defense Fund expressed it, “Being forward-looking about our involvement with the media shows them that we are confident about who were are and what we are doing.”

            There are some real ways that you as an individual or as a member of your local homeschool group can become engaged in this proactive process.

Ways to Communicate Your Message to the Media

·                    Submit press releases of homeschooling events.

            Some of the biggest criticisms that homeschoolers face is that they are “unsocialized” and “at an educational disadvantage.” Most homeschooling families are aware that this is not true, but how is the general public supposed to know this unless we show them? Notice that we said “show,” not just “tell.”  It is one thing to answer a critic of homeschooling by saying, “That’s not true!” It is far more effective for them to see homeschool success stories in action.

            Providing this information to the press should be an important function of your local homeschool group. Unfortunately, it is one that is often ignored. Homeschool groups are in a prime position to submit information to the local media because such outlets are far more likely to accept press releases from an organization than an individual. Perhaps your homeschool group can select one person to be in charge of media relations, though others could help.

            Press releases are simply bits of information released to the press. You may not think that local press would be interested, but that is not true. Many local newspapers especially are looking for stories (especially unusual stories) about local people. But they are not likely to hear about the efforts of your homeschooling community unless you bring items to their attention.

            Jo Anne Cooper, publisher of The Nashville Graphic, a weekly newspaper in North Carolina, suggests that you always mention in the opening line that your release is about a local group or individual. This will immediately help an editor pick your release as a possible filler item. She also suggests that if you plan to submit press releases often, you may want to stop by the local paper and ask to speak to an editor who handles this. If they know you and can get a positive impression of homeschooling from you, they will be more likely to use your material.

            Don’t be surprised if your release is changed somewhat when (and if) it makes it into print. All media outlets work under severe space or time constraints and a lot of people are vying for the right to get out their own message. If the release is used, the editor may trim the piece to fit his needs. This is why it is particularly important to put the most important information in your lead paragraph. It is helpful if you structure the piece so that an editor can cut from the bottom and still have the relevant information in the piece.

            If a press release is particularly intriguing to an editor, he may assign someone to write a feature article about it. This will give you even more complete and well-placed coverage. This is why it is vitally important to provide solid contact information in the press release. Also mention if you have a picture available. Many newspapers are looking for great visual elements to use.

             A press release is far more effective if it follows acceptable guidelines for such releases. In this article, we include a sample press release and some guidelines to follow when submitting them. They are not hard to write, once you marshal your facts.

·                    Use the community calendars in your newspaper.

            Sometimes you don’t have enough information for a full press release, or your information may be more about an upcoming event than a particularly news worthy item. Most newspapers, radio stations, community websites, and local access television stations have community calendars where non-profit organizations can make others aware of meetings. Many require the information on a letterhead from the organization to make sure that it is valid.

            If your organization can qualify with these media outlets, you can let others know about homeschool meetings, informational sessions, science fairs, book fairs, talent contests, sporting events, and other activities. Remember the goal here is not necessarily to draw hoards of people to these events: the major goal is to make others aware that homeschoolers are participating in a positive way in the community and with each other.

·                    Use the editorial page wisely.

            This is a strategy that any homeschooling parent or student can use. Most newspapers have a page for Letters to the Editor or Op-Ed pieces. By writing positively about your opinions or experiences as a member of the homeschooling community, you can impact the way that others view homeschooling. Don’t underestimate this option. Letters to the Editor are often one of the most widely read sections of the newspaper, precisely because they do express the views of the average citizen.

            Your article need not always be related directly to homeschooling. Ian Slatter suggest that you can relate your homeschooling perspective to many community issues. By simply saying, “As a homeschooling parent, I feel…” you are making others aware that homeschoolers take an active interest in community affairs. If the issue is a particularly important one, Slatter suggests that you have several members of the homeschooling community write in so that it does not look like just one man’s opinion. There is impact in numbers.

            Editorial pieces need to be short—usually between 100 and 500 words. Also, be aware that most news sources require that you allow them to use your name; otherwise, they will not print the piece at all. And if the piece is deemed potentially libelous, most papers will not use it. So don’t use this forum to air your neighbor’s dirty laundry!

            Above all, keep a positive tone, even if you disagree. It is tempting to use this forum to show people how clever you are at slinging insults at the establishment, but unless you are Rush Limbaugh, it won’t go over well. You are more likely to offend and alienate others than to win them over. Almost every newspaper has the legendary “crackpot” who writes in with a pet peeve for almost every occasion. Don’t be that “crackpot”! It is far better to say, “After seeing the issues facing the school board, I am even more thankful that I have the opportunity to homeschool…” than to say “Those idiotic, short-sighted jerks on the school board are exactly the reason I yanked my kids out in the first place!” See the difference?

·                    Take field trips to your local media outlets.

      Newspapers, radio, and television stations are great places for field trips, particularly for older students. Not only will you and your children learn more about the inner workings of media, but the media representatives will learn about you as well. If your students are neatly dressed, well-behaved, and ask intelligent questions, then they will create a positive image in the minds of the media makers. Then, the next time a homeschool horror story comes down the pike, they will be less likely to believe it. On the other hand, they may be inspired to do more positive media pieces about homeschoolers because they see them as individuals, not merely as a sociological and cultural phenomenon.

·                    Encourage student internships in media fields.

      If you have a student who writes well and is interested, try seeing if they can break in as a “stringer” (or free-lance writer) at your local newspaper. They may be even able to get an internship position. Some offer such opportunities because they can benefit a young person and get free or low paid labor in the meantime. Your student may not earn much, but they can develop a writing portfolio, earn recommendations for future jobs, and learn the media world from the inside out. In addition, the media makers will be learning about just what great kids homeschooling produces!

The Importance of Media Relations

            Even a well-meaning reporter can sometimes skew the facts if they are not clear on our means or our motives. The best way to avoid this is to let the world know what is really going on in the homeschool community so that reporters are not forced to pick up information about us from ill-informed sources. Homeschooling has grown so much that it is hard for people to ignore it anymore. Someone will be telling our story: it is better if we are the ones to tell it. It can be time consuming, but the rewards of positive media interaction are well worth the effort.

Amelia Harper, a pastor’s wife and the homeschooling mother of five, is the author of Literary Lessons from The Lord of the Rings, a complete one-year literature curriculum for secondary level home schooled students, published by HomeScholar Books. She is currently also a Contributing Editor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, where this article first appeared.

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Sample Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

For additional information or pictures (if available), please contact:
Ima Homeschooler  [Contact Person]
Hope Area Homeschool Association [Name of Homeschool group or organization]
222-333-4444  [Telephone Number]
222-555-8888      [Fax Number]
Momof G8Tkids@netsweep.net    [E-mail address]
www.HAHAssociation.org  [organization website, if you have one]                                                                                      

Local Homeschooled Student Wins Science Fair Award    [Suggested Headline. You can include a slightly lengthier subheading below this, if you want.]

[City, State, Date — Opening Paragraph (should contain: who, what, when, where, why]

[Remainder of body text - Should include any relevant information about your event or awards. Also include quotations, if at all possible.]

Shireville, ME, March 6, 2006 – Joe Allen, a Hope County homeschooled student has garnered grand prize at the Hope Area Homeschool Association (HAHA) Regional Science Fair held on March 1, 2006. The event was held in the activity room of the Hope County Library and was open to all area homeschoolers ages 8-18. More than 50 exhibits were professionally judged by local private school science teachers and by two physicians in the community. Winners of the event, including Allen, will continue on to the state level competition in May.

“This was one of the most exciting  and rewarding events of my life,” homeschooler Maria Sanchez said of the last year’s state level event. As winner of the Advanced Category in the science fair, Sanchez, who also hails from Hope County, went on to place second in the statewide competition held last May in Augusta. Her exhibit, “Your Bathroom Can Be Deadly: A Study of the Growth of Common Household Bacteria” also won her recognition by the Germ-Be-Gone Disinfectant Company which awarded her a $1000 college scholarship.

This year’s project by Joe Allen, “The Comparative Effects of Different Light Sources on the Process of Photosynthesis,” was hailed by judges as a great achievement not only for Allen’s amazing presentation, but also for the detailed research notes that accompanied the project. “I learned a great deal from this process,” said Allen, who plans to major in Agriculture at New Mexico State University when he graduates next spring.

“Joe Allen has the makings of a real scientist,” said Dr. Bradley Benjamin, who acted as one of the judges. “But I was really impressed with all the entries. It was tremendous to see just what these kids are capable of.”

Others winners included Victoria Cantrell, Mark Adamson, and Terry Dorman who placed first, second, and third places respectively in the Advanced Category. In the Intermediate Division, Steven Marconi placed first, with Hannah Adamson and Thomas Hines taking the second and third place slots. Junior Division winners were Tony Davis, Mary Bell, and Fred Baggins. First prize winners in each category received a $100 gift certificate to Rivendell Educational Books and Supplies, which helped to sponsor the event. Second place winners received a $50 gift certificate and third place winners, $25. Allen, as Grand Prize winner, received a trophy and a $250 gift certificate.

For more information about this event or future HAHA Science Fairs, please contact Dr. Heather A. Gurney, HAHA Science Fair Coordinator, at 222-798-9352.

The Department of Education estimates that there are currently over 200 homeschool families in Hope County and over 6000 such families statewide. HAHA is a non-profit homeschool support group which has served Hope County and the surrounding community for over 15 years. For more information about HAHA, please call 222-333-5678 or visit the website at www.HAHAssociation .org.

[Conclude with a brief history of  the organization history, if you like.]

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Amelia Harper, a pastor’s wife and the homeschooling mother of five, is the author of Literary Lessons from The Lord of the Rings, a complete one-year literature curriculum for secondary level home schooled students, published by HomeScholar Books. She is currently also a Contributing Editor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, where this article first appeared.

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