Village's Homeschool Conference Brings Families Together
Antiochian Village's annual St. Emmelia Orthodox Homeschool Conference began on Thursday evening, March 8th with an Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children. The next two and half days offered a very full schedule which included Lenten liturgical services, delicious Lenten meals prepared by our kitchen, lots of fun and fellowship, over 15 workshops for parents to choose from, and enriching workshops for children ages 3-18.
Generally, the people who attend the conference bring their children with them, so we work hard at trying to make this a very family-friendly experience. This year's attendance was approximately 85 adults and children (over the age of 3 yrs. - we don't count all the babies/toddlers!). Not only did we offer the workshops for children during the day, we also provided evening programming for children so that parents could attend the keynote sessions together.
This is a unique conference, because at the Conference Center most of our guests are usually adults. The St. Emmelia Conference always has more children than adults! Here's a quote from an email that Vigen Guroian, our keynote speaker, sent me after he returned home, "I enjoyed immensely the folks I met at the conference. I think that the presence of the children, while it might be something of a necessity, is also the great strength of this gathering. The memories that the children carry away with them are so important for their schooling, the future of home-schooling, and for the church."
Workshop speakers presented a variety of topics which address the needs and interests of a broad range of homeschooling parents. Hopefully there was something for everyone; those who were just taking their first steps into homeschooling as well as the veterans who have been homeschooling for years (read the list of "Speaker Topics" and "Speaker Bios"). We aim for a balance of practical "how-to" like "Homeschooling 101: What to Expect and How to Begin" and philosophical, like "The Moral Imagination and Children's Literature," one of Vigen's keynote addresses.
It really was a wonderful time of refreshment. It's a ton of work to prepare for, but every year I'm so grateful to God that He has made this conference possible. Through the prayers of the Holy St. Emmelia, may it continue for many years.
The dates for next year's St. Emmelia Conference are April 4-7, 2013.