Many parents, and even grandparents, in Illinois might be giving homeschooling another look after the passage of controversial new teaching standards and proposed new sex education instruction beginning in kindergarten for public schools. The 2021 APACHE Homeschool Convention, to be held March 11-13 at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Groveland, IL, will provide information to families interested in homeschooling, offer advice to homeschooling veterans, and include practical workshops for those at all levels.
The convention’s theme, “Stand Firm,” is based on Philippians 1:27 (NIV). In his letter to the congregation at Philippi, the Apostle Paul urged them to “stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel,” which is one of the things the homeschool educators are being urged to do in today’s troubled times.
APACHE is the acronym for Association of Peoria Area Christian Home Educators and Arkasia Cox is the APACHE Committee Chair hosting the convention. She believes “parents should have the greatest influence over children.” Homeschooling is one way to keep outside influences that may not reflect parents’ faith values at bay.
Parents may have doubts, however, Cox said, “Most people don’t think they’re qualified, but they are.”
Increased interest in homeschooling
Multiple actions at the state level have caused many to consider homeschooling or reaffirm the choice families have already made. The General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) voted Feb. 17 to approve the controversial new teaching standards some say would require teachers to abandon their religious beliefs and indoctrinate students. The Responsible Education for Adolescent and Children’s Health (REACH) Act recently filed in the legislature would begin sex education in kindergarten with lessons on personal safety, progressing to lessons in grades 3-5 on sexual expression along with gender expression and identity, to grades 6-12 where students would be taught the benefits of abstinence, birth control, and STD prevention.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused schools around the state, and country, to remain closed to in-person education for large portions of the last year. Parents and students have expressed widespread dissatisfaction with distance learning. A telephone survey conducted by Gallup in August 2020 found 10% of U.S. parents were planning to homeschool their children over 2020-2021 school year, up 5% from the previous year. According to the National Home Educators Research Institute, last year there were nearly 2.5 million homeschool students in grades K-12 or about 3% to 4% of school-age children in the U.S. The Institute’s president, Brian Ray, predicted that number to increase by at least 10% this year.
The first night of the event, Thursday, March 11, is free for new and first year homeschoolers. It’s the New to Homeschooling night with Illinois Christian Home Educator’s Kirk Smith from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Cox said it will also include a vendor market with curriculum and opportunities for families to have time to talk with others “experienced in the homeschool market.”
For experienced homeschoolers, opportunities abound. Convention keynotes include speaker and author Dr. Terry Mortenson from Answers in Genesis, and author of “Help! I’m Married to a Homeschooling Mom” Todd Wilson of The FamilyMan Ministries. Cox described Wilson as “an avid homeschool supporter who’s homeschooled his kids for years. He likes to speak to dads about why it’s important to homeschool.”
Local homeschool experts such as James Ware will lead breakouts on topics including, “10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before College.” Cindy West will teach on “Using Living Literature to Transform Your Homeschool” and “Our Whisper Journey” part of the popular Charlotte Mason homeschool approach.
The public usually has an image of homeschooling moms, but Cox says, “Dads can be as active as possible. They can be a huge encouragement just by saying you’re doing a good job. Supporting the moms is a huge relief off of the moms’ shoulders.”
A homeschooling mom herself Cox said, “Dads can do some of the homeschooling. It isn’t an 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday thing. I’m not so good at math. I told my husband, evenings and weekends — high school algebra — it’s up to him.” She also noted dads are great at teaching life skills to their children.
The convention can be a good time for homeschool families to meet and talk with one another “We try to connect homeschool moms with other homeschool moms for advice and support,” Cox shared.
For parents feeling overwhelmed before they even get started, she offered this advice, “Curriculum choices can be overwhelming. You know your child best as far as how your child learns. Research the kind of method you want to use. Don’t feel like you have to finish it if something isn’t working if you have to try something else.”
The conference is a family event. “We try to gear it for the entire family,” Cox shared. Family busy bags at given out at registration.
To attend the weekend portion of the conference – March 12-13 – the cost is $40 by March 1, $50 after, for an APACHE Subscriber Adult and Spouse and $55 by March 1, $65 after, for a Non-Subscriber Adult and Spouse. Children are $10 each, with a $30 maximum, fourth child plus attend free (age 2 through young adult living at home – attending with parents). Widows and widowers attend free. Grandparents, if not homeschooling and attending with family, also receive free admission. For complete registration information, CLICK HERE.
Cornerstone Baptist Church is located at 18040 Unsicker Road in Groveland, IL, 61535.
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