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SutraJ
08-15-2015, 10:39 PM
My husband and I and a few friends are considering organizing a National Secular Homeschool Conference and Expo. Our team is made up of families from around the US. We are looking to get a handle on what you are looking for in a conference. Here are a few questions that will help us organize a conference.

Where are you located and how far are your willing to travel?
Do you prefer to find your own accommodations or would you prefer the Expo and Conference to be on site?
What did you like about the last conference you attended?
What did you hate about the last conference you attended?
What programming would you like to see available for kids, teens, and parents?
How important is accessibility to your family when choosing a place to stay and would you be more likely to attend if there were dedicated space for Special Needs kids to relax and reboot?
Would you be willing to volunteer for an hour or two if offered lower attendance fees and other perks?
Would you be interested in a mealplan during your stay?
How likely is it that you will register early if given an "Early Bird Special"

Thank you in advance for taking the time to answer this survey.

Mariam
08-16-2015, 09:06 PM
Didn't NASH just have a national conference last fall? Have you spoken with them about it?

NationalAlliance of Secular Homeschoolers - Home (http://www.nationalallianceofsecularhomeschoolers.com)

SutraJ
08-20-2015, 09:03 AM
Yes, the event we are planning is somewhat different from theirs however, which is why we are looking for further input from other secular homeschoolers.

alexsmom
08-20-2015, 05:40 PM
I think my willingness to travel would depend on whats bring offered. Being with a charter school in CA, I dont need legal advice on how to homeschool, and I get a wide range of options for curriculum (and get to see it without commitment).
What would interest me most? A seminar on how to teach! How to motivate and read when its time to approach something differently. An outreach or chance to find secular nature / activity groups (like scouting) for DS.
Im in San Diego, I might drive as far as LA (2hrs) to attend a day convention, probably wouldnt stay overnight.
I dont know what DS would do at a HS convention, either.

Sorry Im not more help.

murphs_mom
08-20-2015, 06:23 PM
I think the NASH kerfuffle left several folks here a bit tetchy when it comes to the idea of conferences, so don't take it personally if you don't get a lot of replies. Have you read through their threads where they detailed their conference? Given that we didn't hear much about it afterward, I had the impression that their convention didn't go so well. Not sure, though.

Good luck with your efforts!

Mariam
08-20-2015, 08:33 PM
I am probably not the best person to ask, as I don't use much curriculum and find that this forum really provides to much of my needs.

We are in a very rural area so we will have to travel no matter where it is.

I really depends on what time of year the conference was held. We would more likely travel in the summer and attach it to a summer vacation than travel exclusively for a conference. I would also be more likely to travel to a major city for the conference, though I know that drives up the price.

I have never attended a homeschool conference and I am not sure what I would want to get out of it at the moment. I would probably want to meet up with people than really attend any workshops.

I have attended many professional conferences, the things I disliked the most are the pre-paid food and having limited hotel options in the area.

Regarding hotel and food, I would want to make all of our own arrangements. We have too many issues that we would have to address.

No formal programming for DS. Free play areas would be most appropriate for us.

If I am bringing the family then I would not be able to volunteer much time.

I would probably register early it if already fit in other travel plans.

Diggerbee
08-22-2015, 12:10 PM
Traveling would be an issue for us. We are a single income family. And we are not wealthy. So if it's more than a days drive away, it would have to be a major undertaking for me. Not that I wouldn't love to go, but I also would have to arrange for someone to help care for our livestock as well. I would be open to online webinars for some things. A periodical might be something to consider too. Most homeschool material where I live is religious or produced in religious communities. While not a bad thing in and of itself, it can leave a secular person feeling a bit left out and without a safe harbor.

I fully sympathize with the people who volunteer to serve any community. Its hard work and I know from experience it can feel thankless at times and be very frustrating. I am glad you all stopped here to ask for input. I hope you are able to find a way to satisfy your needs and those of this community. Good luck.

TFZ
08-22-2015, 01:07 PM
I would love to attend a conference in theory, but it's not practical for me right now - 3 kids, no cash. in order to attend, I would need it to be local, provide babysitting, and be darn near free. I'm probably not much help for your planning, but I imagine a lot of hsers are in my same boat.

Homeschooling Librarian
08-22-2015, 01:24 PM
To be honest, we have a bit of money for travel, but I have very active kids who get even more jacked up around other children (as yesterday's day trip reminded me). My younger one has a tendency to escape caregivers, and they both are fond of staff entrances and emergency exits. So conferences are not on my radar.

ejsmom
08-22-2015, 06:04 PM
I would maybe travel an hour or two, on a Saturday or Sunday, and would not spend money to stay overnight. If I spend money on hotels, it will be to relax on a beach somewhere. I attended one homeschool fair, and got nothing out of it. I can't see myself going for a whole expo/conference. Basically these things are to sell me stuff. I can look at things just as easy online. As far as listening to speakers? Not going to waste a weekend on that. Podcasts work better in my schedule. My kid would only want to go to do something fun with other homeschooled kids, but we have a great local homeschool group for that.

Soulhammer
08-22-2015, 06:27 PM
Well, I'd drive a day to go to a good conference. I am in SC. We usually camp or stay in a cabin, so no hotel for us. I have never been to a conference that I liked, but have enjoyed workshops with detailed how-to info and take-home handouts from regular, experienced homeschoolers, esp. those who've graduated kids from their homeschool. Hands-on sessions (making things, cool resources, technology, entrepreneurship) would be great for my teen. We're a family with severe multiple food allergies, so peanut-free zones are always great for us. I would volunteer as long as my little could tag along with me. No meal plan (allergies). More power to ya!

skrink
08-22-2015, 07:08 PM
My husband and I and a few friends are considering organizing a National Secular Homeschool Conference and Expo. Our team is made up of families from around the US. We are looking to get a handle on what you are looking for in a conference. Here are a few questions that will help us organize a conference.

Where are you located and how far are your willing to travel?

We are in northern Ohio. Depending on what was offered I'd do a day's drive to a destination city, but not a trip to the boonies unless it were somewhere truly special. I'm not paying airfare or spending excessive amounts of time on the road for a conference.

Do you prefer to find your own accommodations or would you prefer the Expo and Conference to be on site?

I would like on site.

What did you like about the last conference you attended?
What did you hate about the last conference you attended?

Never been to one. Everything local-ish is too religious to be worth my time.

What programming would you like to see available for kids, teens, and parents?

I have a teen nearing hs age. I'd like workshops on putting together transcripts, prepping for SAT/ACT, college applications, etc. Bonus would be something about helping special needs kids navigate college. Secular science providers for upper grades would be a big draw.

How important is accessibility to your family when choosing a place to stay and would you be more likely to attend if there were dedicated space for Special Needs kids to relax and reboot?

On site accommodations would accomplish this for us.

Would you be willing to volunteer for an hour or two if offered lower attendance fees and other perks?

Depends on particulars.

Would you be interested in a mealplan during your stay?

No.

How likely is it that you will register early if given an "Early Bird Special"

Again depends. How much of a discount? What's the refund policy?

Thank you in advance for taking the time to answer this survey.

I'd like to know more details - I've always been curious about conferences but the religion factor has a big turnoff.

Diggerbee
08-24-2015, 03:48 PM
I would absolutely love a secular home school periodical. Just putting that out there. If the conference thing doesn't work out, but you still want to produce something for this community, that might be an option. Monthly magazines might be too frequent for volunteers, but quarterly might be cool. I just know someone will say-there are three such publications, that I have never seen or heard of but wish that I had :rolleyes: That happens to me a lot out here in the boonies.

Still--if there is a secular homeschool conference, I want to know about it so at least if I cannot attend, I can pass the word on to interested parties. I won't lie I have been too chicken to go to the conferences where I am at currently because it seems that 99 percent of the attendants will be religious home schoolers. Some I am sure are perfectly fine people--most in fact, but it's tiresome feeling of being the odd person out most of the time.

I just had an idea (whether it s a good one---that's up for debate but...)

If the primary reason that holding conferences is the lack of money in would-be-attendees + travel issues, in what appears (at least from my area) to be impacted also by lower numbers of secular practitioners, then maybe the answer is to have offerings online to be utilized live-stream at smaller events put on and attended regionally by and for secular home schoolers.

No one wants to sit on their butts for hours and watch webinars etc., but a couple mixed in with vendors peppered by some good old fashioned social events for kids and parents, on a friendly weekend would be cool.

The eastern Seaboard is 20 hours driving away --that's if I fly low and make the kids pee in 7 up bottles. I cannot afford plane tickets and even the drive there would be very expensive. But to go to somewhere closer like Arkansas, Texas, Colorado or New Mexico for a weekend, esp if it's off season with camping available--or if it were a camping event like a BioBlitz wow! That would be something doable depending on registration fees.

For some then the issue becomes one of--I can either buy from vendors or register. So with this other plan, that might be one way to keep costs down. Maybe. I know it may be more complicated too. So I will leave it up to you and your group to consider it.

I want college prep stuff. I wish I had someone more experienced to help me put a portfolio together and see if I can get my kids a highschool diploma instead of having to take a GED. That way we can focus their energies on the ACT/SAT stuff exclusively.

Topsy
08-25-2015, 08:58 AM
Diggerbee, there are just a couple resources I wanted to mention that kind of apply to some of the stuff you are searching for...


I would absolutely love a secular home school periodical.

While not a printed periodical, we have a terrific e-mag app via Flipboard where we try to cull together some of the best secular homeschool related articles, resources, and blog posts from the web. You can access it via desktop or mobile device: https://flipboard.com/@secular_hs/secular-homeschooling-on-the-web-0t55k2q6y


I want college prep stuff. I wish I had someone more experienced to help me put a portfolio together and see if I can get my kids a highschool diploma instead of having to take a GED. That way we can focus their energies on the ACT/SAT stuff exclusively.
Spend some time at LetsHomeschoolHighschool.com (http://www.letshomeschoolhighschool.com) when you get a chance because the amazing amount of stuff available for free over there still floors me. It takes a little digging to get to it all, but it's truly comprehensive!

Oksana
08-25-2015, 11:19 AM
I have never been to a HS conference and, honestly, have no interest in going. There is so much information available online, on the forum, through our local homeschoolers that I do not feel any need for more. Traveling somewhere, especially with the kids, would be just a hassle. ....Unless you do it on some tropical island :) with substantial group discounts.

Diggerbee
08-25-2015, 01:03 PM
Ha ha " Unless you do it on some tropical island with substantial group discounts."

Now you are thinking!

Thanks Topsy, I will check that stuff out very soon.

SutraJ
09-14-2015, 08:29 PM
Thank you all for your time in answering. You have been most helpful.

ChaosCubsMom
12-06-2015, 02:56 AM
I am honestly amazed at many of the responses (some not positive) you have gotten from people who NEVER attended a conference and feel no desire to. I have been to several. A conference is quite different than an online course, webinar, or periodical, as many have suggested you consider. I "bit the bullet" and went to a couple of conferences hosted by faith based organizations. At every single one I met several other SECULAR families trying hard to find workshops, materials, curriculums, vendors etc. to meet their needs. We were all quietly going about our business, heads down, trying not to be too conspicuous. We all felt out of place and disappointed at the lack of content for “us”. ALL stated they would love to see a NATIONAL SECULAR HOMESCHOOL CONFERENCE where we would not feel awkward or out of place. I belong to two local secular homeschool groups with many members who would LOVE to attend, participate, and support a secular conference.
PLEASE DO NOT GIVE UP ON THIS IDEA. This is something that will require hard work and effort to get the word out. Secular folks have been timid about attending faith based conferences and some have been burned by their less than welcoming attitude at times. With excellent marketing, great speakers, and terrific organization I think you could see a secular conference grow quickly in a few short years.
Here is my response to your questions:
My husband and I and a few friends are considering organizing a National Secular Homeschool Conference and Expo. Our team is made up of families from around the US. We are looking to get a handle on what you are looking for in a conference. Here are a few questions that will help us organize a conference.

Where are you located and how far are your willing to travel?
I have driven up to two days to attend a great conference with excellent workshops and speakers.

Do you prefer to find your own accommodations or would you prefer the Expo and Conference to be on site?
Definitely on site

What did you like about the last conference you attended?
I drove two days to hear one specific speaker who was shared information/techniques she developed on teaching kids with ADHD/ and other unique learning challenges. IT WAS WELL WORTH THE TIME, MONEY AND EFFORT to hear that one speaker.

What did you hate about the last conference you attended?
It was a struggle to find workshops and seminars appropriate for secular schoolers. I attended a workshop on overcoming challenges in homeschooling. It was billed as a "brainstorming" session...but the only thing most people could contribute for the really tough questions was "pray about it"! REALLY??...I do attend church and a good prayer can be helpful, but is not a practical concrete answer or idea to take home and apply. Real information... real ideas...real answers...that is what is needed for real problems and issues.

What programming would you like to see available for kids, teens, and parents?
My biggest draw, hands down, is the used curriculum/book sales. I drove 14 hours to attend a two day book sale and it was the only reason I attended the conference! Worth every hour I dove.
My kids are elementary age. Workshops on hands on activities, making learning fun, make and take seminars/ideas, how to teach in an whole brain way, multi sensory teaching/learning, teaching specific subjects in unique and fun ways, how to encourage independent learning in young children , teaching critical thinking, etc. Things to help organize my day, even workshops on quick meals (my kids can help prepare). Love, love, love to see programs on interest based learning such as Montessori, and child centered teaching and how to blend that in a homeschool classroom. Charlotte Mason is nice, but again, faith based. I don’t mind vendor sponsored workshops, but dislike it when it is simply one long sales pitch.
How important is accessibility to your family when choosing a place to stay and would you be more likely to attend if there were dedicated space for Special Needs kids to relax and reboot?
YES! I have two kids, strong willed and both have a bit of sensory input issues. They get over stimulated when in loud, fun, exciting situations for too long. A quiet place where they could calm, self sooth, listen to music, read a book, or snuggle under a weighted blanket would be AWESOME.
Would you be willing to volunteer for an hour or two if offered lower attendance fees and other perks?
Yes...especially if I could come help set up, organize, or break down. I would need child care or be allowed to have my kids come help too.
Would you be interested in a meal plan during your stay?
Not likely. I am frugal, as are many homeschoolers. We would pack a lunch or eat in our hotel room for a quiet break.

How likely is it that you will register early if given an "Early Bird Special"
Very likely.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to answer this survey.

ChaosCubsMom
12-06-2015, 09:41 PM
Hi Mariam, sorry if this is the wrong place to ask this, but I noticed your signature states you use Global Village curriculum. May I ask how long you have used it and if you like it? I am sorry but don't know how to send a private message. Dina

Mariam
12-07-2015, 02:17 PM
Hi Mariam, sorry if this is the wrong place to ask this, but I noticed your signature states you use Global Village curriculum. May I ask how long you have used it and if you like it? I am sorry but don't know how to send a private message. Dina

Hi!

You need to have more posts to send a PM. But we can talk about it. I'll start a new thread. (I keep meaning to write a review for it.)

I will post the thread a little later today or you can start it. And we can talk about it. :)

Mariam
12-08-2015, 01:01 AM
Hi Mariam, sorry if this is the wrong place to ask this, but I noticed your signature states you use Global Village curriculum. May I ask how long you have used it and if you like it? I am sorry but don't know how to send a private message. Dina

Here is a new discussion group for GVS. http://www.secularhomeschool.com/homeschool-curriculum/17707-global-village-curriculum.html#post204591

crunchynerd
12-11-2015, 09:08 PM
I have to agree with those who say, "uh...travel somewhere with the kids, to see brochures and hear speakers and visit demo booths to sell me curriculum and online schools and other must-have products, when I can do all that online at home without spending a dime or going nuts in the process? I'll pass."

I've been to a homeschool expo locally, and yes it was mostly for and by religious homeschoolers, but that wasn't why I wouldn't go again. I wouldn't go again, for the same reason I wouldn't go the first time, to a specially-formulated-for-seculars version: because I can shop better online, get plenty of support and information online, don't think traveling with the kids is fun, like to spend money on things that ARE fun, and we're not hard-up for other homeschoolers (secular and non) where we live, so that leaves about no reasons to attend one.

But for those of you who are out in the boonies, and for whom it might be a lifeline of sorts, go forth and tell us about it when you get back! :)

muddylilly
12-11-2015, 09:33 PM
LOL!!! crunchy.....you'll be happy to know that we have internet here out in the boonies too.....albeit satelite ;)

But seriously, I also agree with you. Why wouldn't I want to shop online? No pressure with the hard sell, no panic with the end of the expo looming. Has nothing to do with secular or non.

I do think that a family that is more religious in nature may just enjoy these expo's more......they are used to "fellowship", and seem to thrive on it :)

herstrangemind
12-13-2015, 02:02 PM
We would be interested in attending a conference, if it was within driving distance. And we would need advance notice, preferably a year in advance so we can plan for it financially. A city would be cool but I think a rural area would be awesome too where the kids can be around nature, animals, or farming...

crunchynerd
12-16-2015, 09:10 AM
You may be onto something. I've got all the "fellowship" I want, just trying to maintain a few friendships, and none of them know each other, and the few times I have tried introducing friends to each other, they all seem kind of disinterested in expanding any kind of social circle. Most of them seem more interested in just getting together with one friend at a time. Maybe that's because the kind of people I can be friends with, aren't into groups either?

Maybe that's what a group of introverts is: people who are temporarily in the same space with others like themselves, and all of them are just waiting for it to be over so they can meet up individually instead of in a group?