Expo brings together parents, exhibitors to boost home education

Moms gather around the table of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association at the Home Education Expo held every year in East Ridge. (Photos by Faith Hamilton)

By David Tulis

Homeschooling has been growing here since the 1980s when pioneer families braved prosecution and court action to teach their children in the Christian faith.

People are discovering the liberty and opportunity enshrined in Tennessee law to home educate their children according to the dictates of their conscience.

Every year about this time the local home education association sponsors an expo at Camp Jordan in East Ridge.  The home education expo is Friday and Saturday, July 20 and 21, in the convention hall in which it has occurred for years. The exhibitors number 80, and 65 workshops are planned to explore issues, problems and ideas for home-based learning programs.

Dads often come to the home education expo to encourage their wives’ teaching of children while they are out of the house at work.

“One of the things I’m really enthusiastic about this year is the number of new exhibitors we have,” says Jan Bontekoe, the coordinator of the event for the local home education association (CSTHEA).

“Many of them are filling niche markets for the education of our children so that we can give them an even more well-rounded education.”

The time is 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. the first day and 9 to 4 the second day. The cost is minimal — F$4 for a family that subscribes to the Esprit newsletter (of which I am editor), and F$8 for nonsubscribers. That covers both days. Details are available at www.csthea.org.

My younger children go every year to see all their friends. Jeannette and I hover at the front table to greet visitors, peddle subscriptions to Esprit and answer questions. Many of the moms who come to the expo for the first time look wide eyed down the rows of booths and through the often heavy crowds. They look overwhelmed, startled. I urge them not to feel too pressed for time and that they try to get into a chat with veteran homeschoolers.

New exhibitors at homeschool expo

Allon Books — Christian historical fiction and young adult epic fantasy by author Shawn Lamb. Allonbooks.com

Petite Plume Press — Petite Plume Press is dedicated to the craftsmanship of books designed for children and readers of all ages. Its goal is to create unique books that will capture the heart and imagination of readers. Featuring the award winning books of Zarle Williams. Petiteplumepress.com

Bookshelf Central — One stop shopping for homeschooling with the Tapestry of Grace curriculum, a literature-based plan of study that helps parents provide a Christian, classical education using a guided unit study approach, with the history of the world as the core organizational theme. Bookshelfcentral.com

Chalcedon Presbyterian Church — An Atlanta area church that offers unit studies and curriculum for homeschooling families including the excellent lecture series History of the Reformation, which I have listened to twice (48 tapes). Chalcedon.org

Rising Star Education —Distributor of high-end award-winning videos and e-books with faith lessons for children. Risingstarstudios.com

Logic of English — Provides homeschool parents access to multisensory systematic phonics instruction through a method that has been scientifically proven. The materials are designed so that parents who have never been taught the logical system underlying English words can learn alongside their students. Logicofenglish.com

The Lincoln Project — “Bringing Lincoln to life,” The Lincoln Project shows Abraham Lincoln as he lived, through living historiography and other means. The Lincoln Project brings the principles and values of Lincoln to the lives of visitors, encouraging them to apply his character traits. Thelincolnproject.com

This sign explains why many Chattanooga-area families home educate their children in Christian godliness.

JM Cremp’s “The Boys Adventure Store” — Goal is to encourage strong relationships between you and the extraordinary boys in your lives. Three areas of focus: 1. Adventurous products 2. Opportunities for fathers and sons 3. Parenting resources. Jmcremps.com

Cross Creek Christian School — A Tennessee church-related school offering university-style class program, that includes classroom instruction and lesson plans, a total home education program that allows the parent to choose the curriculum and provide all the instruction at home, or choose to take one or more classes online. Crosscreekschool.org

Myriad homeschool clubs, activities have booths

“I am excited about JM Cremp The Boys Adventure Store,” Mrs. Bontekoe says. “I am excited about the number of tutorials that are now available for our parents who may have a child with a learning disability, giving them the assistance that they need to continue teaching their children at home.”

Another expo plus is the presence of the latest technology-related items from online classes to apps for Kindle and iPad.

Mrs. Bontekoe also is pleased that all the local homeschool activities will have booths at the expo. “I like the wide variety of activities that are now being offered to high school students, from sports to music to chess clubs to 4H clubs to speech and debates. They’re all there.”

Every last space is used for educational exhibitors at the two-day home education expo in East Ridge that starts Friday, July 20, at 9 a.m.

Kathy Napier, whose husband, Andy, is the well-known WMBW radio host, shows a book to two of her sons and another boy.

The home education expo is the place in which one can ask questions about teaching and learning.

A former home educated student, Danielle Sacci is headed in that direction with her and her husband, Robert’s, first child, Toni.

Children play with concept-oriented toys at the expo.