Welcome! Whether you’re considering beginning to homeschool or have made up your mind to get started, you’ve made the decision to attend the HEAV Virginia Homeschool Convention—and we are thrilled that you are joining us!

We know that your first experience at the convention, though exciting and thoroughly engaging, can also be a little bit overwhelming.

The HEAV convention is one of the largest in the country, with more than 150 workshops, more than 200 exhibitors, a HUGE used curriculum sale, a college fair, a math tournament, a robotics expo, chess championships…and the list goes on.

WHERE TO START

Questions from first-time attendees abound, and we are here to help you get the most out of the convention, whether you are coming for one, two, or three days.  With a little bit of guidance and some tried-and-true tips, we hope to make your time with us exciting, engaging, enjoyable, and uplifting!

PLAN AHEAD

Though some families simply show up, plunge right in, and have a great time, many agree that having a plan enables you to get the most out of your time.

Even the information on the website is a lot to take in, and we encourage you to spend some time browsing the website, as you’ll find the answer to most of your questions there. You’ll find:

The Convention Program – You’ll recieve a copy when you check in at the convention, but you can preview it here.

Workshops by Speaker – the best place to start for an overview of session topics

Schedule-at-a-Glance – a two-page, downloadable, printable PDF that gives you the entire workshop schedule

Workshops by Track – the same workshops, organized for those with specific interests. Newcomers may be especially interested in the Beginner and Basic Homeschooling tracks.

Hotel Information – a list of local hotels with whom HEAV has arranged room blocks at special rates. The Marriott and the Hilton are closest in proximity and generally fill up very early in the year. Rooms at more distant hotels, though they may require a short walk or even a drive, often offer great deals and amenities such as free breakfast and shuttle bus.

Free Shuttle Bus and Parking Info (We know parking in the city can be intimidating!)  We’ve arranged for free parking at the Diamond Stadium away from downtown traffic. A free shuttle runs every 10 minutes to the convention center.  Download the shuttle transportation schedule.

Exhibitors, exhibitors, exhibitors!  Download a pdf of the exhibitor booths and map of the Exhibit Hall, and make your plan.

Children and Teen Events (Most of these require preregistration and may not be available onsite, so check this out early.)

Workshop Handouts – Shortly before the convention, workshop handouts will be posted. Not all workshops will have a handout, but be sure to check for any sessions you plan to attend and print them at home. Generally, copies are not available onsite.

LOCATION

The Greater Richmond Convention Center 403 N. 3rd Street

403 N. 3rd Street

Richmond, VA 23219

CONVENTION HOURS

Thursday – noon to 8 p.m. (Exhibit Hall is open 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.)

Friday – 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Exhibit Hall opens at 9:30 a.m.)

Saturday – 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (Exhibit Hall opens at 9:30 a.m.)

PARKING

Parking is most scarce on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. The convention parking garage at the corner of Marshall and 3rd Streets fills up VERY quickly. If you want to park close to the convention center, plan to arrive EARLY.

Check out the interactive map for nearby garages and prices.

Many hotels also run shuttle service to the convention, though availability may be limited.

FREE SHUTTLE BUS

If you are commuting into the city, you may eliminate a lot of stress by parking at the Diamond Stadium and riding the free HEAV shuttle bus to the convention. It will stop on Marshall Street, giving you easy access to the Exhibit Hall and Ballroom Buildings. The schedule is as follows:

Gates Open First Departure: The Diamond to GRCC Last Departure: GRCC to The Diamond Gates Close
Thursday 10:30 am 11:00 am 9:00 pm 9:30 pm
Friday 6:30 am 7:00 am 9:00 pm 9:30 pm
Saturday 6:30 am 7:00 am 7:30 pm 8:00 pm

 

Buses run approximately every 10 minutes throughout the day, and make stops at the Science Museum of Virginia and the Children’s Museum of Richmond.

HEAV convention attendees may show their HEAV convention name badge to get 50% off admission at local museums:

  • Science Museum of Virginia
  • Children’s Museum of Richmond
  • The Valentine
  • The American Civil War Center

COMING IN THE DOOR

The convention center takes up two full city blocks, so a little advance planning can help save your time—and feet! It consists of two buildings—the Exhibit Hall Building and the Building—that are joined by a skywalk over Marshall Street.

When noting workshop location, remember that rooms beginning with E are in the Exhibit Hall Building. Rooms beginning with B are in the Ballroom Building.

If you enter at the main doors at the corner of 5th and Marshall, you will be in the Main Lobby, where you will either register or check in (if you have pre-registered).

IF YOU HAVE PRE-REGISTERED

Go first to the Preregistration Desk, where you will pick up your name badges and holders, convention program, and welcome bag.

REGISTER ON-SITE

If you did not preregister, you may register on-site. Start by going to the tables in the center of the lobby to fill out an on-site registration form. Proceed to one of the lines at the On-Site Registration Desk with your registration form and payment. One of our volunteers will process your registration payment, and give you your name badges, convention program, and welcome bag.

Registration hours are as follows:.

Thursday – noon to 8 p.m. (Exhibit Hall is open 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.)

Friday – 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Exhibit Hall opens at 9:30 a.m.)

Saturday – 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Exhibit Hall opens at 9:30 a.m.)

WHAT NEXT?

This is where the advance planning is very helpful!

If you have determined which workshops you wish to attend, you can simply proceed to the workshop room. Alternatively, you may want to browse the Exhibit Hall first.

There are maps and a Schedule-at-a-Glance in your convention program. Rooms beginning with E are in the Exhibit Hall Building. Rooms beginning with B are in the Ballroom Building.

KEYNOTES

HEAV offers three keynote programs and they take place when no other workshops are scheduled. The 2017 keynote speakers are as follows:

  • Friday | 8:30 a.m.: “How to Save a Generation: Josiah and Today’s Millennials” by Phil Tuttle of Walk Thru the Bible
  • Friday | 4:30 p.m.: Building a Strong Foundation by Michael Smith of HSLDA
  • Saturday | 8:30 a.m. The Amazing Chemistry Show!

The schedule on Thursday is a bit different from those on Friday and Saturday. If you check in on Thursday, there are several add-on programs for children and teens (most require preregistration) and two main workshop tracks for parents:

SPEAKER WORKSHOPS

It is not necessary to sign up for individual workshops you wish to attend. All workshops are open on a first-come, first-served basis. If a room is full, you will be offered a free MP3 download for that workshop.

There are three main sessions on Friday and Saturday, with approximately 15 workshop choices each session. There is something for everyone, whether you are brand new to homeschooling or have been homeschooling for many years. Speaker workshops cover a variety of topics, from encouraging talks sharing the vision for home education to nuts-and-bolts, how-to-homeschool sessions filled with practical ideas and inspiration.

EXHIBITOR WORKSHOPS

Exhibitors at the HEAV convention have the opportunity to present a workshop and they pay a fee to reserve one of the exhibitor workshop time slots. Exhibitor workshops are often a wealth of information, not only on the exhibitor’s own product or service, but on broader interests such as teaching specifics, special needs, finances, encouragement, and more. We encourage you to attend these exhibitor workshops, which are noted on the Schedule-at-a-Glance with this symbol:

EXHIBIT HALL

The HEAV Exhibit Hall is one of the largest of its kind and provides a unique shopping experience. More than 200 exhibitors are represented, selling materials of all kinds: curricula, books, DVDs, CDs, games, puzzles, art supplies, science materials, literature guides, microscopes, T-shirts, Christian products, and much more.

Many exhibitors are also homeschooling parents who generously share their wealth of knowledge about classes, resources, books, and more. They come to the convention at great expense to themselves in order to connect with and support homeschooling families like yours. Please support them by purchasing from them in the Exhibit Hall when you can.

EXHIBITOR DISCOUNTS AND DEALS

Many exhibitors offer special discounts and promotions available only to HEAV convention attendees. You can find the list of those discounts and deals on the website. A PDF of those deals will be available for download about a week before the convention so you may take it with you as you browse the Exhibit Hall.

BUY IT HERE

Bring your receipt to one of the five Buy-It-Here receipt redemption stations in the convention center to be validated, and for every $25 receipt you’ll get a ticket for a prize drawing!

This year’s prizes:

  • $50 gift certificate for IEW – Institute for Excellence in Writing (Thursday & Friday)
  • Free registration for Classic Learning Test (Thursday, Friday & Saturday)
  • $100 cash (Thursday, Friday & Saturday)
  • $100 certificate to My Father’s World – two each day (Thursday, Friday & Saturday)
  • Gift basket from The Adventures of Rush Revere (Saturday)

HANDS-ON STUFF

Look for this symbol on the website and in the convention program:

This symbol shows that the exhibitor is offering a hands-on activity at his or her booth. It may be a science demonstration, an animal exhibit, soldering lessons, robot pilot lessons, or other demos!

FOOD

No outside food or beverages may be brought into the Greater Richmond Convention Center. There are concession stands in the Exhibit Hall, in the Main Lobby, and on the second floor of the Exhibit Hall Building that offer a variety of foods, including a few items priced to be family friendly.

The restaurant page in the program lists a number of popular eating establishments, and a more extensive listing may be found at the Information Desk in the Main Lobby.

Water stations and small cups are available throughout the convention center.

SPONSORS

Thanks to the generous contributions of our sponsors, the convention prices have remained as low as possible for you and your family. These sponsors have invested in you, in HEAV, and in homeschooling. They are committed to homeschooling families, and we encourage you thank them for their sponsorship and visit them in the Exhibit Hall. Sponsors have a “Sponsor” ribbon affixed to their name badges.

<<insert sponsor logos>>

USED CURRICULUM SALE

The Used Curriculum Sale is a MEGA opportunity to get homeschool resources at a bargain—and to sell those items you don’t need!

Preregistered attendees are assigned a UCS time and will receive their UCS tickets in their welcome bags. The earlier you register, the earlier you can shop! The UCS opens for all registered convention attendees at 3 p.m. on Friday. Items that are not sold and are designated for donation are available—free of charge—on a first-come, first-served basis after 4:30 pm on Saturday.

Selling at the UCS is easy with our online barcoding system. Enter your items, label and pack them, drop them off at the UCS, and receive your check 6-8 weeks after the sale!

The UCS shopping hours are as follows:

Friday
9 a.m. – 10 a.m. Volunteer shopping
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.  Preregistered and exhibitor shopping
3 p.m. – 7 p.m.  Open shopping for all registered convention attendees

Saturday
8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Open shopping for all registered convention attendees
4:30 p.m. –  6:30 p.m.  Book pick-up & gleaning

Read Vicki Bentley’s great post, Navigating the Used Curriculum Route.

WORKSHOP RECORDINGS

Consider purchasing convention recordings of general session workshops—either individual copies or the full set MP3. The Resounding Voice booth is in the Lobby, and it offers an excellent deal—just $69 for the full set of recordings if purchased on-site during the convention.

Knowing you can get the session on MP3 helps eliminate the stress of trying to make it to every workshop on your list!  Even when you attend a workshop in person, it can be beneficial to listen to the recording again later. It’s amazing how many nuggets are packed into each hour-long workshop and we can often glean more the second and third times we hear a particular talk.

Note: Exhibitor workshops, the dissection lab, the art camp, and Walk-Thru-the-Bible’s “OT Live” are not recorded.

CONVENTIONING WITH CHILDREN

The convention is a family event, containing much of value for every family member! Children of all ages are welcome to attend workshops with you, but if they have trouble sitting still or get bored easily, they may be happier in the Children’s Program for all or part of the day.

Kyndra Steinmann, one of our convention bloggers, has written several posts about bringing children to the homeschool convention.

Taking Preschoolers and Toddlers to Convention

Preparing the Busy Toddler for the Convention

ENHANCE YOUR EXPERIENCE

Bring a friend! Even if they don’t want to commit to the entire weekend, invite them to come with you to the three, free How-to-Begin Homeschooling workshops and Exhibit Hall Premier on Thursday.

Volunteer! Time and again, people tell us (and we know from our own experience) that volunteering not only blesses others…it blesses US as well.  It enables you to meet people and get connected–and makes you feel a part of the convention in a special way. Plus, volunteers who serve two or more hours get  to shop in the UCS at 9 p.m.–before it opens to the general public. Sign up to volunteer and choose your area of service!

RELAX AND ENJOY

The HEAV convention weekend is jam-packed with workshops to attend and exhibitor booths to browse. There is a lot to see and do, and we want you to enjoy the weekend and get the most out of your time with us.

  • Take breaks.
  • Spend time sitting, reading through the convention program, and chatting with your spouse, friends, and fellow attendees.
  • Plan ahead for meals and take time for lunch. Eat snacks for energy throughout the day.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. (The convention center is a BIG place!)
  • Bring a jacket or sweater as the convention center air conditioning can be quite chilly at times.
  • Bring labels with your name, e-mail, phone number, and address. This makes it super easy to sign up for information and promotions as you visit the Exhibit Hall.
  • Plan downtime, especially if you have the children with you. Give them time and space to just play.
  • Notice the community of like-minded families surrounding you!
  • Soak it all up.

It is our desire that each person who attends the HEAV Virginia Homeschool Convention will return home feeling refreshed, energized, inspired, encouraged, and equipped for the homeschool journey.


 

Download a PDF copy of the “First Time at the HEAV Virginia Homeschool Convention” post.

First Time Homeschool Families Plan for the HEAV Virginia Homeschool Convention!