Session Topics

For Businesses and Community Groups

Homeschooling 101: Homeschooling for Non-Homeschoolers – 1 hour – Jeanne Faulconer

This session is an introduction to homeschooling for the media, businesses, educators, librarians, researchers, legislators, grandparents, child-care providers, new-to-the-idea spouses and others who want to know more about homeschooling but don’t homeschool themselves. We’ll cover the status of homeschooling in Virginia, the growth of homeschooling, approaches to homeschooling, why people choose homeschooling, who homeschools, statistics on homeschooling in Virginia, issues that affect homeschooling, and answers to your questions about homeschooling.

Homeschooling in (insert your county here): What it is, Who Does it, and Why it’s Good for Your Whole Community – 15 minutes + Q&A – Kelly Muzzin

What exactly is homeschooling? Why on earth would anyone do it? Are they all weird? This presentation will cover the legal definition of homeschooling in Virginia, discuss reasons why some families choose to homeschool, and show what homeschooling looks like. Data will be personalized for your county or other geographic area. PowerPoint with sound required. One page handout of links. Question and answer period (additional 5-15 minutes) encouraged. And yes, some of us are weird.

Beginning Homeschooling

Beginning Homeschooling, Part 1: Navigating Virginia Paperwork and Legalities – 1 hour – Parrish Mort or Stephanie Elms

Thinking about homeschooling but feeling a bit overwhelmed? New to homeschooling and wondering what you got yourself into? This session helps you understand the home education statutes and addresses your concerns about filing a notice of intent, showing evidence of progress and finding support.

Beginning Homeschooling, Part 2: But What Do I Do Monday? – 1 – 1 ½ hours Parrish Mort or Stephanie Elms

This overview of “how to homeschool” includes time for your questions and concerns about how home education can work in your family. Explore options for the day-to-day aspects of homeschooling such as finding resources, knowing what to teach, different homeschool approaches, structuring your day, and finding local groups. While no one can tell you what will work best for your family, you will be provided with resources for figuring it all out. Gain the knowledge and the confidence you need to get started on your homeschooling journey.

Homeschool Approaches

On Homeschooling and Structure  – 1 hour – Jeanne Faulconer

Some of your homeschooling concerns and challenges might be addressed by increasing or reducing the amount of structure involved.  Consider the potential impact of tweaking the level of structure in your homeschooling style, curriculum, extra-curricular activities, and home life. Explore the importance of finding the right balance of structure for each child and each family, with an eye toward maximizing learning, reducing stress, meeting family goals, adapting homeschooling to growing children, and providing opportunities for development of self-discipline.

Unschooling Unzipped – 1 hour – Jeanne Faulconer

Revealing self-directed, interest-based learning as a valid approach to education at home. A discussion of what unschooling is, how it works, and how to cope with parental panic attacks. If you’re seeking support for your unschooling philosophy, exploring unschooling, or wanting to add some of the benefits of natural learning to your traditional homeschool approach, join this discussion. You’ll hear how empowered unschoolers can create their own paths to education, college, and vocation and how loving parents facilitate the process.

Learning for All Ages through Play, Games and Frivolity – 1 hour – Parrish Mort

Fun is the key to holding interest and interest is the key to learning. No matter whether your child is a kindergartner or a high schooler you can use play as a way to both introduce and reinforce concepts. We will explore different types of games you can purchase or create, as well as resources for other types of frivolity that enhance learning.

Homeschool Tools: Facilitation, Mentorship and Dialogue – 1 hour – Jeanne Faulconer

Explore these techniques for enriching home education beyond your curriculum. These tools can assist in transforming kids’ interests into larger learning experiences “out in the real world.” They can also assist in developing critical thinking and synthesis in the “world of the mind.” Consider how growing in your role as facilitator, mentor and dialogue leader could be an asset to your children’s education regardless of their age or your approach to homeschooling—and how it might have unintended benefits for you.


A Homeschool Mom Looks Back – 1 hour – Jeanne Faulconer

Join Jeanne Faulconer as she reflects on homeschooling her three sons through 14 years, 12 grades, 10 homeschool groups, eight math curricula, seven moves, six guitars, five part-time jobs, four colleges, three states, two Eagle Scouts, one kid left at home – and approximately a thousand soccer games. Jeanne talks about what the journey has been like from the preschool years through transitions to college and includes thoughts on the major themes she’s discovered in her family’s homeschooling and how these themes relate to the community of homeschoolers and society at large. Not a how-to-homeschool session, this look back provides perspective, inspiration and ideas for your homeschool journey going forward.

Refining Your Homeschool: New Ideas, New Energy and New Strength for Homeschooling – 1 hour – Parrish Mort

When your approach to homeschooling doesn’t seem to be working, homeschooling can overwhelm and feel like a chore. This session explores how to evaluate your homeschooling program and consider changes to make your homeschooling more effective and enjoyable. Ideas will be shared for spicing up your homeschooling days and discuss the importance of social time and support for the kids and for the homeschooling parent.

Homeschool Organization

Of Time and Tides – 1 hour – Jeanne Faulconer

What are some ways that homeschoolers organize their days and weeks? How can we manage our time, our multiple-age children, and our many commitments while helping our children learn at home? Consider the balance between productivity and the need for downtime in family life, and explore a range of organizational strategies for varying approaches to homeschooling.

Let Your House Do the Homeschooling  – 1 hour – Jeanne Faulconer

A discussion about setting up your home so it’s conducive to home education, minimizes preparation for learning, and helps children help themselves to learning materials and experiences. Ideas for the reality of having kids “use” your home all the time, coping with wear and tear, and providing a home front that works for your family.

E-valuations and Blogfolios – 1 hour – Jeanne Faulconer

Consider the potential value of developing an electronic portfolio – a blogfolio – of your child’s learning and educational activities. Learn the basics of how a free blog and your quickly entered notes can document homeschooling and create a record of learning sorted by academic subject area and activity type. Blogfolios can capture and quantify natural learning (you’ll be amazed!) or track completion of curriculum and enrichment activities (you’ll feel so satisfied!). Consider further how today’s technology might allow your family to participate in an “e-valuation” to satisfy state Evidence of Progress requirements as an alternative to standardized testing. You and your kids can scan in samples of work, upload photographs of projects, provide online video, create mp3s, share your blogfolio, and Skype with an evaluator as part of your demonstration of academic progress.  School divisions, universities, and businesses use online educational and evaluation techniques – homeschoolers can too! (Note: This session will not teach details of the technical aspects of blogging or online communication/documentation. We assume that interested participants have or can learn the necessary skills on their own. WordPress software will be featured in the blogging portion.)


Social Benefits, Social Challenges – 1 hour – Jeanne Faulconer

Do homeschooled kids have optimal social opportunities, and do they learn necessary social skills? What are the social benefits of homeschooling? What about social challenges in rural areas or when your child’s homeschooled friends begin attending school? How do homeschooled kids get along in the real world? Come explore the social side of homeschooling.

Homeschool Socialization: An Opportunity, Not a Problem— 1 hour – Parrish Mort

You often hear people express concern over homeschooled children’s socialization, when in reality homeschooling affords abundant and unique opportunities to socialize and interact with people of all ages. This session will include information about how to meet the social needs of the homeschooled child and homeschooling parent. We will also specifically discuss athletics, support groups and forming your own clubs.

Homeschool Challenges

Dealing with Unsupportive People  – 1 hour – Jeanne Faulconer

 You’re gonna do WHAT? Homeschooling is something family and friends won’t always agree with. Gain perspective on the challenge of coping with people who are against homeschooling, who question your ability, or who express concern about whether home education is best for your children. Explore techniques for setting appropriate boundaries and communicating positively with people who are negative about homeschooling.

Fidgets, Doodles and Distractions: Working with Them to Improve Comprehension – 1 hour – Parrish Mort

Many children wiggle while listening to a lecture or doodle in their margins. This does not mean they’re not paying attention; it may even increase comprehension. This session discusses ways to help children stay on task, keep their focus and increase learning. Much of the discussion will focus on active learners but will also include strategies for supporting dyslexia, dysgraphia and auditory processing delays. Parrish emphasizes practical suggestions for working with different learning styles, not “fixes.”

Encouraging Reading in “Late” Readers – 1 hour – Stephanie Elms

“Late” reading can be normal, especially for right-brained, visual-spatial kids. Learn how you can help your child develop a positive “relationship with reading” and how you can support your child on his or her unique path.

Homeschooling Tweens and Teens

Homeschooling the Tween Years – 1 hour – Parrish Mort

Ideas for homeschooling, engaging and nurturing your eight to thirteen year olds, as they move from childhood and dependence toward potential to be more independent learners.

Beyond High School – 1 – 1 ½ hour – Parrish Mort

Homeschooling is a great way to prepare kids for life beyond high school, whether they plan to attend college or work in a trade, as an entrepreneur, or in a non-college vocation. Join Parrish for some perspective on educating kids who are preparing for life without college, or who aren’t sure that college will be right for them. How can you help your children gain the skills and preparation they need to succeed in the world of work as a homeschool high school grad? Parrish will discuss ways you can provide support and shape education and life prep for kids who are most likely headed directly toward a vocation.

Virginia Community College Connection – 1 hour – Parrish Mort

Explore how the opportunities at Virginia’s community colleges can benefit homeschoolers and homeschool grads. Learn about the options for dual enrollment during high school, early college credit, vocational training, SAT prep, or an Associate’s Degree and transfer to university. The session will include an overview of common Virginia community college policies and practices in working with homeschoolers, paperwork homeschoolers need for community college, and things to consider when deciding how community college attendance fits with your homeschooling.

Homeschooling the Hard Stuff  – 1 hour – Jeanne Faulconer

Many of us are more comfortable with homeschooling during children’s early years, but have concerns about more advanced academics. We hear critics of homeschooling say parents aren’t experts in advanced high school subjects and that homeschoolers don’t have access to labs and other resources available in schools. Learn about an approach to homeschooling the hard subjects that allows parents to use innovation, specialized resources, and networking to meet our children’s needs in covering lab sciences, high school language arts, advanced mathematics, foreign language, and computer technology beyond the user level. In spite of our critics’ misunderstandings, homeschoolers regularly learn physics and French, programming and protozoa, calculus and composition. Receive reassurance and resources for covering the “difficult” subjects, as well as perspective on which “hard subjects” your particular children may need to further their goals beyond high school.

Subject Area Ideas

How to Foster a “Relationship with Books” – 45 mins – 1 hour – Stephanie Elms

Shifting from a mindset of “how do I get my child to read” to “how can I foster a relationship with books” can make a huge difference in your homeschooling. Stephanie will share her experiences in ushering her two “late reading” boys along the path to reading. With less focus on the “mechanics” of reading and more focus on the “experience” of books, you can help your child develop their own personal relationship with books.

There’s An App For That! –  1 hour – Stephanie Elms

Using Apps to Enhance Your Homeschooling.  Join Stephanie as she explores the myriad of apps on the market that can be used to organize and supplement your homeschooling program. Whether you need an app to help organize your time and your homeschool resources or one to help your child learn, there’s an app for you out there! Come prepared to share your most useful apps and learn about apps that others have found helpful. We’ll look at apps across various platforms, from Macs and PCs to Android and Apple.

The How Tos and Value of Starting a Writing Group – 1 hour – Parrish Mort

This session presents various formats for the organization of a writing group. Participants will come away with specific ideas for writing prompts and various styles of writing that might be encouraged.

Passport to the World: Homeschoolers and International Studies – 1 hour – Jeanne Faulconer

 Homeschoolers can host international exchange students, study foreign language and culture, and travel and live internationally. Hear how and why they’ve done it and learn about resources and possibilities for your own family. 
Homeschooling Reality: Benefits and Limits jeanne Homeschooling does provide real advantages, but many discussions avoid the reality that homeschooling can’t fix everything. In a session meant more as inspiration than information, explore what homeschooling can do and can’t do, and why we homeschool anyway.

Building Big – 45 minutes or 1 ½ hours with lab – Parrish Mort

This session discusses the implementation of the science-based multi-session activity project, Building Big. The Building Big science project is based on the PBS series by the same name, created in conjunction with author, David McCauley. It involves exploring the concepts behind the construction of bridges, dams, tunnels, domes, and skyscrapers. Students get to design their own version of each building and test the scientific principles that make them possible to be built.

Teaching Responsible Finance – 45 minutes – Parrish Mort

This session focuses on teaching children practical economic skills, an understanding of general economic terms, financial principles and the stock market. Ideas presented can be adapted for elementary children through high school.

Highlighting History – 1 hour – Parrish Mort

From Pocohantas to Post-Modernism, explore ideas to bring history alive and of interest to multiple ages of children. Discover strategies for making history relevant and instruction dynamic through the use of movies, webquests, re-enactments, student-held special events, literature, and more. Concepts and ideas can be used independently or to supplement your history curriculum.

In Search of Science – 1 hour – Parrish Mort

Give your family’s study of science an infusion of fresh ideas and engage your kids. There are interesting ways to learn science facts — from magnetism to mitochondria — and there are compelling activities to increase your children’s interest in science. Whether you fear science or already have a successful science curriculum, explore innovative but practical ideas and valuable resources that are useful from preschool through high school years.

Creating Group Learning Opportunities

The How Tos and Value of Starting a Writing Group – 1 hour – Parrish Mort

This session presents various formats for the organization of a writing group. Participants will come away with specific ideas for writing prompts and various styles of writing that might be encouraged.

Starting Your Own Robotics Team – 25 minutes + Q&A – Kelly Muzzin

Geek is the new chic! This presentation contains an overview of the major robotics platforms, including appropriate ages, ease of start-up, and cost. Also covered are tips for recruiting, how to handle money issues with members, and where to learn more. PowerPoint with sound required. Two-sided handout included. Question and answer period (additional 15 minutes) encouraged.

Geography Day – A Special Event – 45 minutes – Parrish Mort

This session will share ideas for hosting a Geography Day event with activities, themes and how-tos. It will also include curriculum ideas for teaching geography in your personal homeschool.

Creating and Maintaining Successful Co-ops – 1 hour – Parrish Mort

Looking to create a cooperative learning experience for children? Hoping to share the burden of teaching? Or are you dying to teach others about your passion? Whatever the case, forming a successful cooperative takes some forethought and effort. Learn factors to be considered, tips for forming and maintaining a successful cooperative, and suggestions for handling challenges that arise. Consider ideas for forming co-ops to help children learn a variety of academic subjects– geography, writing, history, science, economics, art and more.

The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers is a non-profit public charity with 501(c)(3) status; your donation is tax-deductible to the extent provided by law. A financial statement is available from the Virginia Division of Consumer Affairs upon request.

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