2013 may well be the most important year in the history of Catholic homeschooling conferences due to a new national campaign focused on getting 10,000 people to attend conferences across the country. Before the season begins with the first few conferences in March, it seems fitting to try to answer the question, “Why does Seton care so much about conferences?”
How it Began
In the 1980’s and early 90’s, before the advent of the Internet, Catholic homeschooling was rare and marginalized. Many parents assumed that it was actually illegal. Dr. Mary Kay Clark, along with several homeschooling parents and priests, traveled the country putting on small conferences, sponsored by Seton, where parents could learn about what Catholic homeschooling was and how it was done. The seeds that they planted have blossomed into the robust Catholic homeschooling communities we now see all over the country. The conferences were not merely responsible for the growth of Seton, but also for the growth of Catholic homeschooling as a whole.
At a time when information was scarce and misinformation rampant, conferences were the means by which the fledging Catholic homeschooling movement was nourished and took wing. Even today, when homeschooling has become popular and information abounds online, conferences remain a vital component of the success of Catholic homeschooling. Both veteran homeschooling parents and those just discerning whether homeschooling is the right choice can find encouragement, information, and community.
The Heart of the Vendor Area
Seton may no longer host specifically “Seton” conferences, but Seton is still usually the largest vendor at any conference. When you approach the Seton tables, usually the first books you see belong to the Pre-K program. From there, the books for each grade are set out in a large rectangle arrangement of tables with a check out table at one end, and an enrollment table at the other. All of the Seton Press books, and nearly every single book used in the Pre-K through 8th Grade curriculum are present as well as sample lesson plans.
At some conferences (those that are driving distance from Front Royal) have additional tables for Seton used books, School Spirit shirts, and a large variety of popular materials from the Seton Educational Media Catalog like Young Scientist Kits, Apologia Science, Bethlehem Books, Saxon Math, saint biographies, atlases, DVDs, Memoria Press Language series, and Melissa and Doug educational toys. The largest Seton presence each year is at the IHM National Conference where the Seton materials cover 45 tables.
Save When You Enroll
Enrolling their children with Seton has become a very important part of conferences for many families. Many years ago, Seton started to offer a $30 per child discount (Grades 1-12) at every conference. It began as a way to off-set each conference’s admission fee—to make it easier for Seton families to attend the conferences. However, even when conferences offer free admission, Seton has been happy to keep this discount available as yet another way to encourage families to attend conferences and be strengthened and encouraged in their mission to teach their children and pass on the Catholic Faith.
10K Strong Campaign
2013 is a special year for Catholic homeschooling conferences. For the first time in history, there will be a national campaign to show support for Catholic homeschooling by having 10,000 people attend conferences during the Year of Faith. Seton is supporting this campaign along with many other Catholic homeschooling organizations.
If you haven’t attended a conference recently, this is the year to go. If you are a regular attendee, this is the year to bring your sister, your mother, and your three closest friends. Reaching 10,000 is a monumental goal and literally every person counts.
With your help, parents across the country will be encouraged to give the greatest possible gift to their children…the Catholic Faith!