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 nearly 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 FAQ with answers to the most commonly asked questions about the AFHE Convention
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: About a week before Convention, workshop handouts will be posted on the Speakers & Workshops page of the AFHE website. 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. Take a look at the Downtown Phoenix interactive map at downtownphoenix.com and locate one or two parking garages nearby. The Jefferson Street Garage is located just across Jefferson Street by Chase Field. The East Garage is located across 5th Street just to the east of the South Building. Parking in the Downtown Phoenix area runs $10-$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. Especially note the one-way streets in the downtown area. Give yourself plenty of time to park and walk over to the Convention Center, too. This will help eliminate 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.
When you arrive at the Convention Center, head to the west side of the South Building and enter the South Lobby, which faces Third St. This is where you will check in for the Convention. Once you enter the main lobby, where you go first depends on whether you pre-registered or will be registering on-site.
CONVENTION NAME BADGES
Please check in at registration to pick up your name badge before going to the keynote, 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.
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 goody 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 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. Follow the signs in the lobby or ask one of our helpful greeters to direct you. One of our volunteers at the registration counter will assist you, process your registration payment, and give you your name badges, goody bag, and convention program.
You will find a few different types of workshops at the AFHE Convention.
- Keynote workshops
- Featured speaker workshops
- Exhibitor workshops
- Sponsor workshops
Workshop schedules can be found on the SPEAKERS & WORKSHOPS page.
We offer two keynote sessions and they take place when no other workshops are scheduled. This is a very special time for all of us to be together in the ballroom.
New in 2017: We will have an opening keynote Friday morning and a closing keynote Saturday evening.
FRIDAY 8:45 AM – Join us for worship to start the day at 8:45 AM Friday in the ballroom as we kick off the weekend. Before the keynote speaker begins, we will have a few special pre-keynote activities including a legislative update by AFHE Legislative Liaison and lobbyist Tom Lewis, a few important announcements, and the presentation of AFHE’s “Friend of Homeschool Freedom” award to honor a legislator that has demonstrated outstanding support of homeschool freedom in Arizona.
SATURDAY 5:00 PM – We will wrap up the weekend with a closing keynote when the exhibit hall closes at 5:00 PM Saturday. Join us in the ballroom for an inspiring, encouraging closing message and stick around for our annual big prize drawing at 6:30 PM following the closing keynote. We’ll be giving away five $100 cash prizes and a bunch of additional donated prizes from exhibitors too. Learn more about the Buy It Here! promotion to learn how to enter for a chance to win.
Beyond the two 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.
FEATURED SPEAKER WORSHOPS
We have an excellent featured 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. 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.
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. 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 50 chairs to provide plenty of space for exhibitor workshop attendees.
The exhibitor workshop schedule will be available on the website mid-May and will be included in the convention program.
SPONSOR LUNCHTIME WORKSHOPS
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. These will take place during lunch from 12:30-1:15 PM in a few of the workshop rooms. Grab your lunch and eat while you listen. (Please remove your trash when you leave, of course.) We encourage you to learn more about these great sponsors by attending their workshops.
You will find the sponsor workshop schedule on the website mid-May and it will be included in the convention program as well.
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 more than 140 exhibitors selling curriculum, books, resources, art supplies, science materials, literature guides, microscopes, t-shirts, 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.
TIPS FOR CHOOSING CURRICULUM
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 books like Cathy Duffy’s Top 102 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.
Be sure to stop by the Mentoring Moms booth inside the exhibit hall entrance and ask questions of these 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 incredibly beneficial to simply 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. Make notes in the center section of your program of any booths you want to come back to later.
Attend an assortment of featured speaker 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. 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.
REMINDER: CURRICULUM IS JUST A TOOL
The most important thing to know is this … curriculum is a 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 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 in the South Lobby.
Note: Exhibitor workshops are not recorded.
THREE-DAY POST-CONVENTION RECORDING SPECIAL
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 Monday, July 10 – Wednesday, July 12.
FOR NEW HOMESCHOOLERS
If you are new to homeschooling, you might wish to attend the free pre-convention “Considering Homeschooling” mini-conference we offer the day before the convention. You’ll enjoy several workshops specifically geared for new homeschoolers. 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.
- 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.