Expo your 1-stop shop to boost learning, aid family

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Families in home education and the world of schooling profit from the annual home education expo and curriculum fair. (Photo Ginger Sumerlin)

Families in home education and the world of schooling profit from the annual home education expo and curriculum fair. (Photo Ginger Sumerlin)

Exhibitors from around the United States are gathering in East Ridge this weekend to supply a growing need for educational resources among families in the region.

Nearly 80 providers ranging from booksellers, universities and curriculum publishers to specialists in etiquette, filmmaking, arts and writing will crowd Camp Jordan Arena for two days.

By David Tulis

Chattanooga, a city known for its high regard for the Bible, has a thriving home education marketplace.

The event is Friday 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 4.

“I really love the give and take that the free market gives us,” says Jan Bontekoe, the expo organizer. “The hand in the glove type thing *** makes the market work.”

Young moms

The home education expo at Camp Jordan is an event that serves the wider Chattanooga area. Homeschooling families have found creative ways to teach children, many of which can be implemented in families that have their children in public or private schools.

Homeschooling families have found ways to make learning part of their family lifestyles.

The expo is geared toward several times of people, starting with moms of young children trying to make the decision of how they would like their child to be educated, with homeschooling one of those options.

Formal lessons may be pretty far down the road. But even if your child is a toddler, it’s not too early to start building that network, to start meeting other homeschoolers and to see what’s in the marketplace.

But even if you have young children and you’re not considering homeschooling, you can still find some really great products to just to bring education home, so to speak.

Every parent is a homeschooler, though perhaps unwittingly. If twenty-something mom reads a book to her child at night before bed, if you play a game with your child when he comes home from school — that’s homeschooling. When you you help your child with your homework from a school, that’s home education.

All moms and dads are home educators

What expo has for grownups

Mrs. Bontekoe takes up the theme of local economy. The curriculum fair is “an opportunity to support small businesses in a local manner — because you get to come out locally to shop, even though they are not local vendors. The way to shop local, you are supporting families who will help you personally, too.”

The event serves not just school-age children, but thinking adults. Mrs. Bontekoe finds a year’s reading material at the homeschool expo in East Ridge. The mother of seven children ranging 13 to 30 years old says she enjoys the sort of literature that prompts homeschoolers to dissent from modern and progressive theories and propose something freer.

Exhibitors sell books about constitutional history, the Bible history, noble characters, artists, science, philosophy, creation, invention and many other topics.

One vendor was so deep in his selections I was able to find two law books, The Right to Earn a Living by Timothy Sanderfur and Liberty of Contract; Rediscovering a lost Constitutional Right by David Mayer. For me, the expo is a way of saying yes to real human interactions, and “no” to the machine.

Vendors serve people like you “if you are one of those adults who wants to think outside the box,” Mrs. Bontekoe says. DVDs galore, “great audiobooks,” and other goods on display at the expo “the learning lifestyle,” she says.

Exhibitors at the homeschool expo Friday and Saturday will satisfy every educational self-help need. (Photo Faith Hamilton)

Exhibitors at the homeschool expo Friday and Saturday will satisfy every educational self-help need.

What if you have grandchildren?

“Find those good things to stock your shelves for when your grandchildren are hanging out,” says Mrs. Bontekoe, a cheery member of the homeschool association board. She and her husband, Steve, run a sign company off Amnicola Highway.

“There will be a great amount of quality materials that you can be equipped with so that when that grandchild says, ‘What are we going to do?’ you can say, ‘I’ve got just the game.’ We have so much fun playing some of the games we have found here at curriculum fair.”

Workshops galore

The workshop schedule is crowded. It includes talks on writing, medical transcription, Charlotte Mason the noted English pedagogue, and tutoring services.

Cost is $8 per family for both days. Details at this link.

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