That’s Northern Virginia, for you non-East Coasters. (Northern Virginia is its own little part of the world, quite different from southeastern Virginia where I live, so deserves its own particular abbreviation.) This weekend I spoke at the Northern Virginia Home Education Conference in Chantilly. The NoVa conference is only in its fourth year, but it offers an alternative to the larger and older state conference.

It was a very well-organized conference, despite the fact that there was NO CARPET ON THE FLOOR IN THE EXHIBIT HALL, which means that after standing for two days I had to down enough Advil to sear my liver. Concrete is death on your feet and legs.

(I snappd this picture of one of the aisle before the hall before it opened to exhibitors.)

And my workshops were filled with very friendly listeners.


The NoVa conference is a smaller alternative to the larger and older state conference. In the last few years, more and more small home schooling organizations have sprung up, often to offer an alternative to state organizations which tend to be politically and socially conservative. Many home schoolers (including those who identify themselves as Christians) find themselves at odds with the politics of the older state organizations. And also at odds with the tendency of some of these organizations to insist that their politics are the only truly Christian politics around.

I think the multiplication of conferences is a healthy sign, proof of a vigorous movement that resists all forms of top-down control. The home school movement is remarkable as a grassroots phenomenon that has CONTINUED to be a grassroots phenomenon–and one largely directed and controlled by women.

Although you wouldn’t know that from the lineup at some state conventions.

But I digress.

Anyway, I found the conference organizers charming and efficient, the attendees friendly, and the floor extremely hard. Now I’m home again, getting back to my grassroots life.

Showing 12 comments
  • Louise


    I was visiting NoVA from the Northeast and I happen to go shopping on Friday. I bought your latest book and you autographed it! Thank you!

  • Julie M. Smith

    One can’t help but notice that there are two stoves in your kitchen . . .

  • Sherri


    I am glad to know there are other Christian homeschoolers out there who aren’t quite so theologically conservative. I was just telling a friend the other day that I like the idea of educating my children at home, but the attention given in the homeschooling subculture to constructing gender along certain, ah, traditional lines has unnerved me.

    “I reckon it will be just me and The Well-Trained Mind,” I told her. It’s nice to know there are some sympathetic souls out there!

  • Janice in NJ

    There is nothing more frustrating to me than stepping into a hsing workshop and finding out that the speaker doesn’t homeschool. Or they are married to someone who homeschools and they keep saying, “We…”

    I used to think that I was a good mom. Then I had children…. and I decided to try to educate them….

    Isn’t life grand?


  • Maragret T.

    Yes concrete can be horrible!

    I do have to say that since the homeschooling movement is “largely directed and controlled by women” it must be that the women are getting what they want, so why complain that the lineup at conferences includes so many men? After all, if gender doesn’t matter to them, why should it matter to you?

    If your complaint was based on content, I could understand your digression, but you are basing your comment solely on gender, which is just what egalitarians say they have a problem with.

  • Delbra

    I haven’t been to a home school conference in seven years for the very observations you’ve made and it was so REFRESHING to be at one and not feel “at odds”. (Can you spell, “elated”?) My 11yod came with me and instead of having to debrief her on the way home, we got to enjoy reliving the highlights and there is a new energy in her to continue training her mind. I can’t stop thinking and discussing with my family, some of what you shared in Home Schooling The Second Time Around and comparing notes with my grown dds on what they may keep and what they may tweak about their upbringing. What you shared went way beyond simply home schooling and it was inspirational. Thank you, to you, your family and your parents.

  • Anna

    You know, in the few years I’ve been homeschooling I’ve had 2 different official school rooms in my house. I’ve picked up free desks being given away at a local school. I’ve bought desks and chairs. I’ve vowed not to have school stuff all over my house! And yet, most of the time, despite all I’ve done, we end up doing school at the kitchen table, too.

    You gotta love it!


  • Victoria

    Well put. You’ve articulated what has been on my mind for awhile. I didn’t go to my state convention because there wasn’t one seminar (and there were many available!) that was applicable to us and very few that had to do with curriculum….now if I wanted to learn how to bake bread……. 😉

  • Barb

    I have never been able to identify myself with homeschooling groups/conventions primarily for the reason of which you speak. That hasn’t deterred me from homeschooling, though. I would be glad to see more like-minded conventions/groups springing up.

  • mary kathryn

    Like Julie, I was going to note the 8 burners in your kitchen, but thought it might be rude…. Half gas, half electric? Nice!

  • K. Hutcheson

    I am very glad to hear that smaller conferences are popping up. I have watched with dismay as the hyperpatriarchy movement seems to be taking over the larger conferences. I always thought I was conservative … until I started attending some of the sessions at these HS conferences. Ugh! I will be choosing my conferences more carefully now that I know there are better alternatives.

  • thatmom

    K. Hutcheson, This is mainly for you but anyone else who might be interested in this as well….I am currently doing a series of podcasts on the patriarchy/patriocentricity/hyper-patriarchy movement and you might enjoy it. and You can get the podcasts either place.

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