Home School Conference or Convention?

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In the home school community spring means conventions and conferences.  This week’s TOS Blog Cruise is:  “Homeschool Conventions - Do you attend, what are the benefits, pitfalls, etc. Share your experience!”

I am blessed to live in an area that offers more than one convention or conference, yet with multiple possibilities I did not attend my first conference until 2006!!!  I just wasn’t sure how to work out the logistics with small children before then.

You may have noticed I have used the words conference and convention.  Some people may use them interchangeably but I do see a distinction between them, especially for home education.

In my experience a conference focuses on building up the home school by providing speakers that focus on topics related to the family.  These conferences may offer workshops and have speakers who do focus on the educational aspect of home schooling and they may offer a vendor hall, but primarily, the purpose appears to focus on a religious conviction to home school and to raise your family in a particular way.

While a conference primarily focuses on the family, a convention focuses more on providing practical support and encouragement for the educational aspect of home education.  Certainly there are speakers who may encourage home schooling as a way of life or a particular family life style but what I experienced were more speakers who encouraged me in the HOW to home educate.  Workshops were offered to teach me how to teach writing or designed to share how to use literature, for example, in history lessons.

I much prefer the convention style over the conference style.  I want to shop the vendor hall.  I want to see the materials and ask questions.  I like saving money by not having to pay shipping.    I don’t want to hear keynote speakers that present their lifestyle/ home school choices as the only valid choice for Christians and all other choices fall into the “not really Christians because they aren’t like me”  category.

I like going to our large home school convention that caters to ALL home educators.  You’ll find Christians from all denominations and backgrounds.  You’ll find home schoolers who home school for religious reasons along side those home educators who who home school for academic reasons.  Both of those groups mingle through the vendor exhibitions with all the other home school families who home school for every reason you can imagine.

The large family centered conference is just around the corner.  I won’t be attending.  I’m not interested in the key note speaker and I can’t afford the outrageous cost of a ticket especially for a vendor hall that only has a handful of exhibitors.   The large state-wide convention will happen in a couple of months.  I am planning on attending that one.


  1. I never thought of the difference between convention and conference before. I thought it just depended on what part of the country your are from :) Then there is EXPO too. Now I'll have to go look what our state calls ours again. I've never attended a live, either one you call it.

    Thanks for sharing. Very enlightening.

  2. Vickie,

    I think it also gets very confusing because some events really are BOTH like the South East one in NC. It is HUGE and has speakers that focus on the family and speakers and workshops that focus on the education *and* a huge vendor exhibit hall. I think I'd love to attend one that had the best of both worlds! I really just wanted people to know that there may be different agendas for a conference versus a convention. Hope you get to attend one soon. And you're right I didn't even touch the online ones!

  3. Great post, Tess. I hadn't really thought about the difference between the terms conference and convention, but I think you nailed it.

    I laughed out loud at your comment about the outrageous cost of a ticket. If I was attending something with speakers, vendors and attendees who would build me up, I'd certainly be willing to pay quite a bit. However, I would not shell out even $5 to hear someone like Kevin Swanson (he's huge in Colorado, has he invaded your neck of the woods yet?). I think any amount of money is "outrageous" to listen to that kind of speaker and their "the only Christian way" speeches.

    (yeah, I'm rather opinionated... you are WAY more polite...)


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