What to Expect Your First Time at the AFHE Convention

(updated for 2024)

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 is very exciting and can be a lot to take in … perhaps even a little overwhelming. Gathering together with thousands of other homeschoolers, having over 100 featured speaker and exhibitor workshops to choose from, plus an 80,000 square foot exhibit hall to browse that’s 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 easy to navigate.


Review the information we have published on the convention pages of our site. You’ll find:
  • Daily convention schedule
  • 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
  • Convention Essentials: a page with an FYI section and basic information about the event

     Review the workshop schedule and highlight the 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.
     WORKSHOP HANDOUTS: Shortly before the Convention, workshop handouts will be posted on the Speakers & Workshops page of the AFHE website in June. Be sure to print out handouts for any sessions you plan to attend, as copies will not be available on-site. Note: not all workshops will have a handout.

     Parking is plentiful near the Phoenix Convention Center. The best daily rate is available by pre-purchasing your parking pass for $10/day at the Jefferson Street Garage (limited availability). Other parking areas downtown cost approximately $15 per day, and if you are staying in a downtown hotel there might be an adjacent parking garage for hotel guests.
     Visit dtphx.org for an interactive map with parking, restaurants, and road construction updates.
     The parking garages closest to the South Building of the Phoenix Convention Center are:
          JEFFERSON STREET GARAGE - 333 E Jefferson Street, Phoenix
          EAST GARAGE - 602 E Washington St, Phoenix

     Our convention is in the South Building of the Phoenix Convention Center, 33 North Third Street, 85004. Once you arrive downtown and enter the main lobby of the Phoenix Convention Center South Building, the first thing you will need is your convention name badge. Your name badge is your admission to all areas of the convention and must be worn at all times. Where should you go to get it? Read on!

     If you pre-registered for the convention, your name badges will be available for pick up at the pre-registration check-in tables. You will pick up your name badges and holders, convention program, and welcome bag. On Friday morning you will find pre-registration check-in on the right-hand side of the lobby. For the rest of the weekend, pre-registration check-in will be available at the Registration counter.  We will have greeters and signs to make it easy for you to find where to go first.

     If you did not pre-register, you may register on-site either at the Registration counter or on your phone with our mobile reg form. Follow the signs in the lobby or ask one of our helpful greeters to direct you. Whichever method you choose, all on-site registrants need to come to the appropriate line at the Registration counter to finalize payment and receive your name badges, welcome bag, and convention program.

You will find a few different types of workshops at the AFHE Convention.
  • Keynote sessions
  • Featured speaker workshops
  • Sponsor workshops
  • Exhibitor workshops
Workshop schedules can be found on the SPEAKERS & WORKSHOPS page.

     Each morning there is a general session in the ballroom with a keynote address for all attendees. This is a very special time for all of us to be together.
KEYNOTE SESSIONS FRIDAY & SATURDAY 8:30 AM – Join us for worship to start the day at 8:30 AM Friday and Saturday in the ballroom as we kick off each day. At 8:45, before the keynote speaker begins, we will have a few special pre-keynote activities and announcements.
AFTERNOON KEYNOTE FRIDAY 5:00 PM — We will wrap up the first day of the convention with a session for everyone to attend together! There are no other workshops or presentations scheduled during this hour.

     Beyond the keynote sessions, there are three types of workshops at the AFHE Convention. Workshop schedules and descriptions for each type can be found on the SPEAKERS & WORKSHOPS page.

     We have an excellent lineup of featured speakers 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. You’ll find that there is something for everyone, whether you are brand new to homeschooling or have been homeschooling for many years. Featured speaker workshops are selected to offer encouragement, inspiration, ideas, and information without requiring the use of a particular product, service, or curriculum.
     Featured Speaker workshops have open seating; no advance registration required.

     Exhibitors at the AFHE Convention also have the opportunity to present workshops. Many exhibitor workshops focus on demonstrating or elaborating on their product or service. Several exhibitors also choose to use this time to encourage parents in the homeschool journey.
     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.
     All exhibitor workshops take place in curtained areas in the exhibit hall. Each exhibitor workshop curtain includes sound, a projector and screen, and 40 chairs to provide plenty of space for exhibitor workshop attendees.

     AFHE is grateful for the partnership our valued sponsors who have made financial contributions to enhance the convention experience for our attendees and to support the work of AFHE as we serve the Arizona homeschool community throughout the year.
     Several of our sponsors will be presenting informative workshops so that you can learn more about them during the regular workshop schedule. We encourage you to learn more about these great sponsors by attending their workshops.

     The AFHE Convention exhibit hall provides a one-of-a-kind shopping experience … the only one like it in Arizona each year. You’ll find approximately 150 exhibitors selling curriculum, books, resources, art supplies, science materials, literature guides, Christian products, and much more in the exhibit hall. 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, etc. A favorite feature of the exhibit hall is the Young Entrepreneurs, where you will find products and services created by Arizona homeschool students (age 11-24).
     The growing list of registered exhibitors is available on our EXHIBIT HALL page.

     Selecting curriculum is one aspect of homeschooling that can be daunting for new homeschoolers because of the vast number of options to choose from. As parents, 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 preferred learning style, take a look at Cathy Duffy’s 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum (cathyduffyreviews.com), the Homeschool Resource Roadmap (homeschoolroadmap.org), and Carol Barnier’s The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles (available on Amazon). Each of these resources 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.

     All attendees are invited to stop by the Mentoring Moms booth inside the exhibit hall entrance and ask questions of these experienced homeschool moms available to assist you Friday and Saturday during exhibit hall hours.

     In order to minimize feeling overwhelmed in the exhibit hall, it can be very beneficial to simply start by walking through the entire hall, aisle by aisle, checking out various booths to get a big picture overview of what’s available. Make notes in the center section of your program of any booths you want to come back to later.
      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. They are an important part of the weekend’s activities. Please be mindful of the investment they make to be here for you, 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.

     The most important thing to know is this … curriculum is a tool. It isn’t the end-all, be-all of your homeschool approach and strategy. 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 frustrating or demoralizing 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 when 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 we hear a particular talk.
You’ll find the Resounding Voice booth just to the right when you enter the Exhibit Hall.
Note: Recordings of exhibitor workshops are available for sale with permission from the exhibitor. Not all exhibitor workshops will be available for purchase.
     For those not able to attend the convention or who didn’t get a chance to purchase the recordings, Resounding Voice will offer a full-set MP3 special through their website.

     If you are new to homeschooling, you might wish to attend the free pre-convention “You Can Homeschool!” mini-conference we offer the day before the convention. You’ll enjoy several workshops specifically geared for new homeschoolers. We offer special sessions for homeschooling special needs, as well! This mini-conference is held Thursday afternoon. No advance sign-up is required for this pre-convention event. DETAILS

The AFHE 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.
  • Spend time sitting, reading through the convention program, and chatting with your spouse, friends, and fellow attendees.
  • Drink plenty of water. You may bring water with you or there are concessions on site where it can be purchased. (Note: All concessions in the Phoenix Convention Center are cashless; card payments only.)
  • Plan time for lunch. Eat snacks for energy throughout the day.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Bring a jacket or sweater as the Convention Center air conditioning can be chilly at times.
  • Enjoy some moments where you 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.
  • Stop by the Mentoring Moms booth and ask questions.
  • Soak it all up.

It is our desire that each person who attends the AFHE Convention would return home feeling refreshed, energized, inspired, encouraged, and equipped for the homeschool journey.