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Annual home school conference to be held at Shepherdstown church

By Staff | Mar 11, 2016

Covenant Church in Shepherdstown will host the 8th annual Eastern Panhandle Home School Conference on Saturday, March 19, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The mission statement of the EPHSC says… “to support and encourage high quality Christian home education in the Eastern Panhandle and surrounding areas, by providing educational and informational sessions, and an opportunity to review and discuss resources and materials developed for the purpose of home education and strengthening families. The EPHSC will bridge the gap that Christian home educators in this area have by providing the sessions and resources in a location convenient to this region.”

The U.S. Department of Education reports that homeschooling has risen by 61 percent in the past decade. Many more families are turning to homeschooling as an alternative due to various factors, such as wanting a Christian education for their children without the high cost of private school, flexibility of tailored learning, inadequate public schools or because of anxiety or bullying issues at school, among a whole host of reasons.

The Theme for this year’s conference is “Homegrown Learning”, and is designed to equip families with information and support through all aspects of homeschooling, whether someone is considering homeschooling, has a special-needs child, or is trying to get through high school.

Dr. Michael T. George, author of “My Story of America,” will give the afternoon keynote address, debunking the myths and stereotypes of homeschoolers, and will discuss the power that home education has had throughout history.

Other sessions include, “The Self-Propelled Advantage”, led by author of the same-titled book, Joanne Calderwood. The self-propelled advantage “is a model of both parenting and education that yields extraordinary results. Parents will be encouraged and inspired to utilize the three elements that work together to give children the ultimate advantage in life: Self-Mastery, Mastery, and Self-Teaching. You’ll discover what gives children an edge and what makes them extraordinary!”

Another session led by Faith Berens from the Home School Legal Defense Association will address the issue of teaching struggling learners at home. This workshop offers practical resources, lists of materials, and curricula in order to help equip parents as they work with a struggling learner at home. Multi-sensory teaching methods, direct instruction, modeled teaching, and “scaffolding” instruction are shared, as well as ideas for designing a unique home instruction program tailored to a child’s specific challenges.

Local attorney, Michael Donnelly will offer a session to discuss the new homeschool laws that have just passed in West Virginia, and many other topics will be discussed throughout the day.

The conference usually has between 150 and 200 attendees, although the coordinators hope to grow to better serve the growing population of home school families.

“This local conference enables homeschooling families to connect with not only experts, but other families in the area who are like minded,” said one the conference coordinators, Donna Bent. “Often, significant benefit occurs when homeschoolers interact with each other spurred on by topics presented in the sessions. The result can be extremely thought provoking and encouraging.”

The conference day begins with continental breakfast at 8 a.m., followed by a morning keynote address, various sessions per hour, lunch, afternoon keynote address and interactive chat rooms, as well as a selection of homeschool related vendors and used curriculum sale.

For more information or to register for the conference, visit the website ephsc.org.