23rd Annual Education Expo
has been cancelled until further notice.

After polling the vendors, and the attendees that I have email addresses for from Expos 2004-2007, a wealth ofinformation came back. TEACH is very grateful for everyone who responded, as they verified our suspicions and gave us much, much more in the way of reasons and suggestions.

 

1) Vendors cutting the number of small events they attend.

2) The dwindling number of attendees which has caused the vendors to cut our Expo, and the dwindling number of vendors which has caused the attendees to not attend. (Catch 22)

3) The increase in internet sales. "Many of the materials I AM purchasing new I'm buying direct from the vendors online, but I'm also doing more online shopping for used materials (i.e., www.homeschoolclassifieds.com)."

4) The increase in the number of homeschooling families who are using enrichment classes instead of at-home studies. Teachers in the enrichment classes provide access to the curricula they want to use.

5) The number of families who have window-shopped at the Tidewater Expo and then purchased at the HEAV Convention.

6) The number of families who have skipped the local Expo and traveled to the HEAV Convention.

7 "I would not be able to participate this year due to a conflict with the Georgia show the same weekend (which I also mentioned that "Moore's" would be going to, since it has 3000-4000 attendees). Doing it in May, is also "very iffy", since there are a number of other shows ---April/May/June/July are "PRIME TIME" for shows !!! Till you can bring your attendee numbers up, you may have to go later into August to attract more vendors."

8) The first weekend in August is too late. Most are already prepared for the coming school year. Those number of families who aren't prepared are too low to support a local Expo. Vendors have to absorb the "no salestax weekend," which is in addition to their other incentives.

9) The traditional 2nd weekend in May is too busy for a local fair, but is preferred before the HEAV Convention.

“Since public schools have Kindergarten registration in the early spring and many private schools open enrollment in February and March, I recommend that such an event take place in Feb. or March. (The moms I’ve known who were beginning homeschoolers made a plan and chose curriculum by the end of April.) This wouldn’t conflict with any other homeschool conventions/curriculum fairs and vendors would be free to participate. You may even be able to have the event at a local church with a large hall for vendors, keeping the table cost reasonable for the vendors.”
10) Workshops and inspirational speakers are not well-attended at the local Expo. You can get all the motivation you could ever need at the HEAV Convention. Other parents say at a certain point in their homeschooling, the need for inspirational speakers is not needed.

11) The desire for a family curriculum-swap at the Expo. (The last curriculum swap we had at Kempsville Presbyterian Church was well-attended by families bringing curricula, but the buyers(swappers) were very few.)

12) Losing the convenience of The Pavilion (new VB Convention Center much too expensive,) and the location changing every year.

13) I didn't want to list this one, even though we don't charge to attend, but this has always been a complaint. People just hate to pay for parking.

14) The local Expo was a way to see like-minded friends that we don't normally run into, but it is not needed as much anymore, because you now run into homeschoolers everywhere.

15) The need for better advertising. “There are so many events and activities competing for attention. The advertising of the event needs to represent it as something so valuable that you don’t want to miss it. You need flyers on most every church bulletin board, handed out to parents at co-ops, support groups, and local MOPS groups. The more they see the ad, the better the chance for attendance. People will think: “Wow! This is something big!” (But of course, you need to have something valuable to offer them. If not, they won’t believe the advertising the next year!”
16) Concentrate on directing new homeschooling families to Moore Expressions, HEAV, HSLDA, Enrichment classes, support groups, etc.

17) Invite some speakers to the area. “We came to the fair last year and enjoyed it very much. The idea of including speakers is wonderful. I am reading a book by Teri Maxwell called Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit. I would love to hear a speaker address organizational and attitude issues. Successful homeschooling seems to involve a "right" attitude and system...not just a good curriculum.” (This is a good suggestion; however, now that TEACH's only income is lost without the vendors' need to come to the Expo, we have to find another way to fund our operating costs. We have traditionally avoided hiring speakers in order to keep the Expo free to the public.)

18) Plan new homeschooler workshops. “ The greatest need I have seen over the last five years is to serve those who are interested in beginning homeschooling—both Christians and non-Christians. Each year there are people who know me and ask about homeschooling. There are many questions they have and aren’t sure where to turn. I believe that this is the greatest need in the homeschooling community and that it would be beneficial to have a “beginning homeschooling” or similar workshop locally.
19) It is imperative that Moore Expressions and other used book vendors attend. Invite colleges, museums, enrichment classes and co-ops, sports organizations and used curriculum swap.

20) "With the other avenues available for curriculum, maybe the TEACH expo has run its course. If we do away with it, would like to see something in its place.. In the past, TEACH has been the "glue" for the homeschool community in the area. We should maintain that somehow."

21) "I have found that because I have been homeschooling for many years I no longer go to curriculum fairs to check out my options. I do take advantage of online shopping and also enrichment classes as my kids reach highschool. I rarely attend these fairs or even the state
convention any more. I don't need to hear speakers anymore as I've covered everything at some point or I am set in what I do and no longer want to learn about the newest best thing. Life is just too busy! These things were very valuable to me when I was just starting out. Back then there was no other good way to find out about curriculum because homeschooling was not so wide spread or on the web yet.”

22) "I love your curriculum fair. I do not have the time to go all the way to Richmond for the huge one and this is something I and many of my home school friends look forward to each year. I will tell you that when you changed the dates last year and began having it in Sept. verses earlier in the year that was a problem. Most of us have planned our year and have purchased curriculum and begun school or about to begin @ that point. I did prefer the earlier date. I hope that you will continue with the curriculum fair and work things out. Speakers would be a nice add on."

(Most vendors will not attend a Fair if there are less than 1,000 attendees. Many have been gracious to attend, even though they were concerned about the continuing decline of the numbers. In 2008, we had 687 adults and children attend.)

23) "if the curriculum fair becomes biennial, perhaps people will appreciate the local fair more and come out in significant numbers. There would also be time for you to ask attendees their recommendations of speakers and vendors, and receive their feedback information. For example, I would love to see speakers (regular moms) who have at least four children teach a workshop on how to successfully homeschool multiple children."
24) "I would not be able to participate this year due to a conflict with the Georgia show the same weekend (which I also mentioned that "Moore's" would be going to, since it has 3000-4000 attendees). Doing it in May, is also "very iffy", since there are a number of other shows ---April/May/June/July are "PRIME TIME" for shows !!! Till you can bring your attendee numbers up, you may have to go later into August to attract more vendors."

25) “I would be more likely to attend if there were more speakers, workshops, etc about homeschooling. It seems that it has become simply a place to look at curriculum and it is the same year after year. Something for homeschool students would be nice too. Perhaps having a few speakers who are homeschool graduates conduct workshops or seminars to youth or teens. One family that I have seen in the past are the Steve and Teri Maxwell family (titus2.com). They give conferences geared toward the entire homeschool family - Moms, Dads, teens. They don't advertise that they do this, but take requests and do their best to work it into their schedule. They also do not charge a fee. I am sure there are other homeschool families like the Maxwell's who would be a wealth of information to other homeschooling families who aren't as far along the homeschool journey. Things like that would entice me to come to an Expo, more so than additional vendors.”

26) “This is my 19th year homeschooling. Over the years, I’ve seen homeschooling in our community change drastically. When I first started, I didn’t know very many people who were homeschooling, but the ones who did actually taught their children at home.

Somewhere about the time that the curriculum fair was moved out of the pavilion, things had begun to change. The numbers of co-ops and support organizations had grown dramatically. Many of my friends chose not to homeschool in high school and put their children in co-ops. Just a few years later, all of their children, no matter what age, were in co-ops—not just as a supplemental resource, but for all their academic subjects, as well. Our family calls it “Co-op Schooling.”……… . “ Of all my friends, I know of no other family who is homeschooling or has homeschooled high school at home, without the use of co-ops for academics.”

27) Homeschoolers are maxed out. The parents who “co-op” school (and do sports) do not feel the need for more encouragement or new ideas. They’re just exhausted from driving around town and they just want more time. Weekends are their time.”

28) Last, but not least, the number of homeschooling families have risen, but the number of families willing to get involved in preparing for such an event has dwindled down to nothing, because of the enormity of the task, and the busy lifestyles of the families - they couldn't possibly take on one more thing. The last five Expos have been single-handedly coordinated by one Board member. They have all been the same except for the change in venue; but, the focus was carrying on the tradition. There was no more available time to spend thinking up new ways to present it.

TEACH is confident that with the change in the homeschooling needs, there will be families who will want to help other homeschoolers in the same tradition of our pioneers, but in a new and relevant format. The homeschooling movement has a life of it's own that inevitably has to change with the times. In fact, it may not be so much "homeschooling" anymore; as it may be the new era of "alternative schooling."