What to Expect Your First Time at the AFHE Convention
Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to attend the AFHE Convention and we are so excited to have you join us!
We know that attending the convention for the first time can be a bit overwhelming. Being surrounded by thousands of other homeschoolers, with over 100 workshops to choose from and an 80,000 square foot exhibit hall filled with vendors selling curriculum, resources, products, and services, there’s sure a lot to see and do!
Newcomers often have a variety of questions … everything from, “Where should I park?” to “How do I find the right curriculum for my family?”
We are here to help! We have put together some tips and hints to help make your experience at the convention enjoyable and not so overwhelming.
Review the convention information we have published on the AFHE website. You’ll find:
- Convention FAQ with answers to the most commonly asked questions about the AFHE Convention
- Speaker bios, workshop schedule, workshop descriptions
- Parking, food/dining, and hotel information
- Tips for getting the most out of the convention
- A list of participating exhibitors
- Exhibitor workshop schedule and descriptions
- Details about various aspects of the convention including teen program, young entrepreneurs, and more
Review the workshop schedule and highlight any sessions that you most want to hear in person, making note of any that you’d like to purchase recordings of to listen to later. Planning ahead can help you avoid the stress of last-minute decision-making or the disappointment of missing a workshop you really wanted to hear.
Parking is plentiful near the Phoenix Convention Center. Take a look at the Downtown Phoenix interactive map at www.downtownphoenix.com and locate one or two parking garages nearby. The Jefferson Street garage is the closest, located just across Jefferson Street by Chase Field. The East Garage is located across 5th Street just to the east of the South Building.For those who pre-registered for the convention, you will receive a couple of discount parking fliers that will allow you to park at the Jefferson Street Garage for just $5. Parking in the Downtown Phoenix area runs $12-$15 at most parking garages.
If you are not familiar with the Downtown Phoenix area, be sure to map out directions so you can find parking and the Phoenix Convention Center easily. Give yourself plenty of time to park and walk over to the Convention Center, too. This will help eliminate a lot of unnecessary stress first thing in the morning.
The Phoenix Convention Center South Building address is 33 South 3rd Street, Phoenix, 85004. It is located between Washington and Jefferson Streets and faces Third Street. (See map at the bottom of this page.)
ARRIVAL AT THE CONVENTION CENTER
When you arrive at the Convention Center, head to the South Lobby to check in. This is the main lobby of the South Building and is located in the center facing Third Street on the west side of the building.
Once you enter the main lobby, where you go first depends on whether you pre-registered or will be registering on-site.
If you pre-registered for the convention and have received your name badges in the mail, you can go to the express check-in pre-registration line to pick up your name badge holders, convention program, and goody bag. Friday morning express check-in will be on the right-hand side of the lobby. The rest of the weekend pre-registration check-in will be at the far end of the Registration booth. We will have signs to make it easy for you to find where to go first.
If you did not pre-register, you may register on-site. Start by going to the tall tables in the center of the lobby to fill out an on-site registration card. Proceed to one of the lines at the Registration booth with your registration card and payment. One of our volunteers will assist you, process your registration payment and give you your name badges, goody bag, and convention program.
Everyone must check in to pick up name badge holders before going to the keynote or other workshop sessions or into the exhibit hall. Your name badge is your admission to all areas of the convention and must be worn at all times.
There are two categories of workshops at the AFHE Convention … general session and exhibitor. You will find separate workshop schedules and workshop description sections in the convention program for each.
General Session Workshops
Also referred to as featured speaker or invited speaker workshops
Friday and Saturday mornings we kick off the general session workshops with a keynote address in the ballroom.
The keynote session begins at 9:00 AM with several special activities including worship, important announcements, one or two special presentations including a legislative update from AFHE’s legislative liaison one morning, and the keynote address.
We have an excellent general session speaker line-up with workshops covering a variety of topics from encouraging talks sharing the vision for home education to nuts and bolts “how-to” homeschool sessions filled with practical ideas and inspiration. There really is something for everyone, whether you are brand new to homeschooling or have been homeschooling for many years.
General session workshops are selected to offer encouragement, inspiration, ideas, and information without requiring the use of a particular product, service, or curriculum.
All workshops are open seating. It is not necessary to sign up for individual workshops you wish to attend.
Exhibitors at the AFHE Convention have the opportunity to present one or two workshops. Most exhibitor workshops focus on demonstrating or elaborating on their product or service. A few exhibitors use this time to encourage parents in the home education journey with a topic that is similar to a general session workshop rather than being focused on product promotion or demonstration.
Exhibitors pay a fee to reserve one of the exhibitor workshop time slots. We encourage you to attend these workshops to learn more about the products and resources these quality exhibitors have to offer.
The exhibit hall is filled with over 200 exhibitor booths. You’ll find vendors selling curriculum, books, resources, art supplies, science materials, literature guides, microscopes, t-shirts, Christian products, and much more. You will also find exhibitors sharing information about local resources, services, and activities such as homeschool PE classes, speech and debate, museums, colleges, music lessons, choirs, Christian camps, and more.
Tips for Choosing Curriculum
Selecting curriculum is one aspect of homeschooling that can be the most daunting for new homeschoolers. After all, there are so many options to choose from and we all want to make the wisest decisions when purchasing curriculum.
Begin by doing some research before the convention. Read about curriculum approaches if you are unfamiliar with them. Understanding the difference between a textbook/traditional approach and classical education, unit studies, eclectic, or the Charlotte Mason approach will be tremendously helpful in selecting curriculum for your family. It is also beneficial to have a basic understanding of the type of learner your child is … auditory, visual, or kinesthetic (hands-on).
Once you understand the five or six primary curriculum approaches and have an idea of your child’s primary learning style, take a look at books like Cathy Duffy’s Top 101 Picks for Homeschool Curriculum and Carol Barnier’s The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles. Each of these books does an excellent job at giving an overview of some of the most effective, most popular curricular resources available today. Carol’s book helps you match your child’s learning style with curriculum that may be best suited for him/her.
Free Pre-Convention Mini-Conference for New Homeschoolers
Attend the free pre-convention “Considering Homeschooling” mini-conference and look for workshops at the convention geared for new homeschoolers. This mini-conference is held Thursday from 2:30-5:30 PM. No advance sign-up is required for this pre-convention event. DETAILS
Mentoring Moms Booth
Stop by the Mentoring Moms booth and ask questions of the experienced homeschool moms available to assist you.
Shopping in the Exhibit Hall
In order to minimize feeling overwhelmed in the exhibit hall, it can be really helpful to start by walking through the entire hall, aisle by aisle, checking out various booths as you go to get a big picture overview of what’s available.
Attend both general session and exhibitor workshops. Take time to think, pray, and compare. Decide what you really want and then buy.
Budget can play a big role in what you choose to buy. Most of us have limited funds available and we try to make the best decisions possible, saving where we can.
It’s important to note that the exhibitors at our convention invest a great deal of time, energy, and resources to come present their materials and to be an important part of the weekend’s activities. Please be mindful of the sacrifice they make and consider purchasing from them directly instead of buying their products from another exhibitor or an online supplier for a few dollars cheaper. This encourages knowledgeable exhibitors with quality products to return year after year and makes a better experience for all of us.
Curriculum Is a Tool
The most important thing to know is this … curriculum is tool. It isn’t the end-all, be-all of your homeschool journey. It shouldn’t become your master. It is just one of many tools in your tool belt as you nurture, disciple, and educate your child at home.
Do your research, talk to experienced homeschool parents, browse the exhibit hall, talk to the exhibitors, and ask lots of questions. Use the tools wisely and thoughtfully, but don’t let curriculum become a burden to you or your children.
Sometimes, even after doing all of the research possible, you may choose a curriculum or resource that simply does not end up working for your family. When this happens, you might feel obligated to press on and finish the curriculum because you spent good money on it. And yes, sometimes, pressing on and persevering can be rewarding, but sometimes it can be sheer agony for parent and child alike, unraveling the love of learning we are working so hard to build with our children. Be ready to adapt and adjust as needed.
Consider purchasing recordings of general session workshops—either individual copies or the full set MP3 or CDs.
Resounding Voice offers an excellent deal on the full set of recordings if purchased on-site during the convention.
Even if you attended a workshop in person, it can be beneficial to listen to the recording of that session again later. It’s amazing how many nuggets are packed into each hour-long workshop and we can often glean more the second and third times you hear a particular talk.
You’ll find the Resounding Voice booth inside the exhibit hall to the right.
Note: Exhibitor workshops are not recorded.
Convention weekend is jam-packed with workshops to attend and exhibitor booths to browse. There is a lot to see and do and we want you to enjoy the weekend and get the most out of your time with us.
- Take breaks.
- Take time to sit, read through the convention program, and chat with your spouse, friends, and fellow attendees.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Take time for lunch or snacks.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Sit back and take it all in.
- Notice the community of like-minded families surrounding you.
- Arrive in time to enjoy worship before the keynote address.
- Come ready to soak it all up.
It is our desire that each person would return home feeling refreshed, energized, inspired, encouraged, and equipped for the homeschool journey.