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What to Expect Your First Time at the AFHE Convention – GCU Edition

You’ve made the decision to attend the AFHE Convention and we are so excited to have you join us! We’ve put together an article to help you know what to expect before you come.

Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to attend the AFHE Convention and we are so excited to have you join us!

We know that attending the convention for the first time is very exciting and can be a lot to take in … perhaps even a little overwhelming. Gathering together with thousands of other homeschoolers, having over 100 featured speaker and exhibitor workshops to choose from, plus browsing in the exhibit halls filled with vendors selling curriculum, resources, products, and services … there’s a lot to see and do!

Newcomers often have a variety of questions … everything from, “Where should I park?” to “How do I find the right curriculum for my family?”

We are here to help! We have put together some tips and hints to help make your experience at the convention enjoyable and easy to navigate.


Review the information we have published on the convention pages of our site. You’ll find:

  • Daily convention schedule
  • Speaker bios, workshop schedule, workshop descriptions
  • Parking, food/dining, and hotel information
  • Tips for getting the most out of the convention
  • A list of participating exhibitors
  • Exhibitor workshop schedule and descriptions
  • Details about various aspects of the convention including Teen Program, Young Entrepreneurs, and more
  • Convention FAQ with answers to the most commonly asked questions about the AFHE Convention


Review the workshop schedule and highlight the sessions that you most want to hear in person, making note of any that you’d like to purchase recordings of to listen to later. Planning ahead can help you avoid the stress of last-minute decision-making or the disappointment of missing a workshop you really wanted to hear.

WORKSHOP HANDOUTS: About a week before Convention, workshop handouts will be posted on the Speakers & Workshops page of the AFHE website in June. Be sure to print out handouts for any sessions you plan to attend as copies will not be available on-site. Note, not all workshops will have a handout.


Parking is plentiful on the campus of Grand Canyon University. AFHE Convention attendees should park in the 33rd Avenue Garage near the GCU Arena. Turn north from Camelback Road onto 33rd Avenue and you will be directed to the parking garage entrance.

The address for Grand Canyon University is 3300 West Camelback Road, Phoenix 85017.

Once you park, make your way to the GCU Arena. This is where you will check-in for the Convention.


Please check-in at registration to pick up your name badge before going to the keynote, other workshop sessions, or into the exhibit hall. Your name badge is your admission to all areas of the convention and must be worn at all times.

Volunteers who are earning free admission will go directly to the “Volunteer & Special Guest” check in counter in the lobby.


If you pre-registered for the convention, your name badges will be available for pick up on Friday morning through the box office windows outside the Arena lobby. Look for the alphabetical directional signs to find which line to join.  You will pick up your name badges and holders, convention program, and welcome bag. After Friday morning, pre-registration check-in will be at the Registration counter.  We will have signs to make it easy for you to find where to go first.


If you did not pre-register, you may register when you arrive. Follow the signs in the lobby or ask one of our helpful greeters to direct you. One of our volunteers at the registration counter will assist you, process your registration payment, and give you your name badges, welcome bag, and convention program.


Your convention program is your guide to all aspects of your convention weekend! We’ve loaded it with everything you’ll need at hand – schedules, maps, directories, speaker bios and workshop descriptions, dining information, and more!

Check out the four-page pullout section in the center of your program for a workshop planner, exhibit hall shopping list, photo scavenger hunt guide, and your own “Hot Sheet” to compile your own collection of the best action points, quotes, recommendations, and revelations from the weekend!

Your other best source of information will be our mobile app, Homeschool Arizona. Download it before you arrive and you’ll receive timely notifications and event updates throughout the weekend.


You will find a few different types of workshops at the AFHE Convention.

  • Keynote sessions
  • Featured speaker workshops
  • Exhibitor workshops
  • Sponsor workshops

Workshop schedules can be found on the SPEAKERS & WORKSHOPS page.


We have a keynote session at the beginning of each day, when no other workshops are scheduled and the exhibit halls are not open.  We will all be together in the Antelope Gym for this special opening session.   

Seating in the Antelope Gym is divided between chairs on the gym floor and bleacher seating. There will be designated spots for wheelchairs at the ends of rows. These spaces may be used for strollers if not needed for wheelchairs. Strollers may also be parked at the back of the gym, but not along the front row of bleachers.

FRIDAY & SATURDAY 8:30 AM – Join us for worship to start the day at 8:30 AM Friday and Saturday in the ballroom as we kick off each day. A few special pre-keynote activities and announcements will begin at 8:45, and then we will hear from our keynote speaker.

SATURDAY 5:30 PM – We will wrap up with our annual big prize drawing. We’ll be giving away four $100 cash prizes and a bunch of additional donated prizes from exhibitors too. Learn more in your convention program about how to enter for a chance to win in the Buy It Here! promotion.

Beyond the two keynote sessions, there are three types of workshops at the AFHE Convention. Workshop schedules and descriptions for each type can be found on the SPEAKERS & WORKSHOPS page.


We have an excellent line-up of featured speakers with workshops covering 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. There is something for everyone, whether you are brand new to homeschooling or have been homeschooling for many years. Featured speaker workshops are selected to offer encouragement, inspiration, ideas, and information without requiring the use of a particular product, service, or curriculum.

These workshops have open seating. It is not necessary to sign up or reserve a seat for individual workshops you wish to attend. Most of our workshops at GCU are in lecture halls which have 100 seats. The exceptions are the Antelope Gym, Ethington Theater, Sunset Auditorium, Baseball Stadium classrooms, and the exhibitor workshops in the COT classrooms.


Exhibitors at the AFHE Convention have the opportunity to present informational workshops. Many exhibitor workshops focus on demonstrating or elaborating on their product or service. Several exhibitors also choose to use this time to encourage parents in the homeschool journey.

Exhibitors pay a fee to reserve one of the exhibitor workshop time slots. We encourage you to attend these workshops to learn more about the products and resources these quality exhibitors have to offer.

All exhibitor workshops take place in classrooms in the College of Theology building just northeast of the GCU Arena. The exhibitor workshop schedule is available on the website and will be included in the convention program.


AFHE is grateful for the partnership with our valued sponsors who have made financial contributions to enhance the convention experience for our attendees and to support the work of AFHE as we serve the Arizona homeschool community throughout the year.

Several of our sponsors will be presenting informative workshops so that you can learn more about them in Howerton Hall in the College of Theology (COT) building during the regular workshop schedule. We encourage you to learn more about these great partners by attending their workshops.


The AFHE Convention exhibit hall provides a one-of-a-kind shopping experience … the only one like it in Arizona each year. You’ll find approximately 100 exhibitors selling curriculum, books, resources, art supplies, science materials, literature guides, laptop computers, Christian products, and much more in the exhibit hall. You will also find exhibitors sharing information about local resources, services, and activities such as homeschool PE classes, speech and debate, museums, colleges, tutoring, etc.

Don’t miss visiting our inspiring Young Entrepreneurs! These homeschool students and graduates (age 11-24) have created products or offer services that you will want to support! The Young Entrepreneur booths are located on the concourse level in the GCU Arena, so make your way upstairs and take a stroll along both sides and the south end to shop at these enterprising and enthusiastic vendors.


Selecting curriculum is one aspect of homeschooling that can be daunting for new homeschoolers because of the vast number of options to choose from. As parents, we all want to make the wisest decisions when purchasing curriculum.

Begin by doing some research before the convention. Read about curriculum approaches if you are unfamiliar with them. Understanding the difference between a textbook/traditional approach and classical education, unit studies, eclectic, or the Charlotte Mason approach will be tremendously helpful in selecting curriculum for your family. It is also beneficial to have a basic understanding of the typical learning styles: auditory, visual, or kinesthetic (hands-on).

Once you understand the basic curriculum approaches and have an idea of your child’s preferred learning style, take a look at Cathy Duffy’s 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum ( and Carol Barnier’s The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles (available on Amazon). Each of these resources does an excellent job at giving an overview of some of the most effective, most popular curricular resources available today. Carol’s book helps you match your child’s learning style with curriculum that may be best suited for him/her.


Be sure to stop by the Mentoring Moms booth inside the Arena exhibit hall and ask questions of these experienced homeschool moms available to assist you Friday and Saturday during exhibit hall hours. We have scheduled moms who are able to address particular topics of interest at certain times throughout the day – the topics schedule is in your convention program and is posted at the Mentoring Moms booth.


In order to minimize feeling overwhelmed in the exhibit hall, it can be incredibly beneficial to simply start by walking through the entire hall, aisle by aisle, checking out various booths as you go to get a big picture overview of what’s available. Make a note of any booths you want to come back to later, using the Exhibit Hall Planner in the center of your convention program.

Budget can play a big role in what you choose to buy. Most of us have limited funds available and we try to make the best decisions possible, saving where we can. Attend an assortment of featured speaker and exhibitor workshops. Take time to think, pray, and compare. Decide what you really want and then buy.

It’s important to note that the exhibitors at our convention invest a great deal of time, energy, and resources to come present their materials. They are an essential part of the weekend’s activities. Please be mindful of the investment they’re making to be here for you, and consider purchasing from them directly instead of buying their products from another exhibitor or an online supplier for a few dollars cheaper. This encourages knowledgeable exhibitors with quality products to return year after year and ensures a better experience for all of us.


The most important thing to know is this … curriculum is a tool. It isn’t the end-all, be-all of your homeschool journey. Curriculum does not provide an education for your child, and it shouldn’t become your master. It is just one of many tools in your tool kit as you nurture, disciple, and educate your child at home.

Do your research, talk to experienced homeschool parents, browse the exhibit hall, talk to the exhibitors, and ask lots of questions. Some curriculum providers have online or phone consultants or Facebook groups that are very helpful as you get used to that curriculum and understand its best use in your situation. Use the tools wisely and thoughtfully, but don’t let curriculum become a burden to you or your children.

Sometimes, even after doing all the research possible, you may choose a curriculum or resource that simply does not end up working for your family. When this happens, you might feel obligated to press on and finish the curriculum because you spent good money on it. And yes, sometimes, pressing on and persevering can be rewarding, but sometimes it can become counterproductive, unraveling the love of learning we are working so hard to build with our children. It is okay to adapt and adjust as needed.


Consider purchasing recordings of general session workshops—either individual copies or the full set MP3 downloads. Resounding Voice offers an excellent deal on the full set of recordings if purchased on-site during the convention.

Even when you attended a workshop in person, it can be beneficial to listen to the recording of that session 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 time we hear a particular talk.

You’ll find the Resounding Voice counter in the Arena lobby.

Note: Recordings of exhibitor workshops are available for sale with permission from the exhibitor. Not all exhibitor workshops will be available for purchase.


For those not able to attend the convention or who didn’t get a chance to purchase the recordings, Resounding Voice will offer a full-set MP3 special through their website Monday, July 19 – Wednesday, July 21, 2020.



If you are new to homeschooling, you might wish to attend the free pre-convention “YOU CAN HOMESCHOOL” mini-conference AFHE offers the day before the convention. You’ll enjoy several workshops specifically geared for parents who are considering homeschooling or are just getting started. This mini-conference is held Thursday afternoon in the Antelope Gym. No advance sign-up is required for this pre-convention event.

We also are hosting a “Getting Started Homeschooling with Special Needs” event similar to the “YOU CAN HOMESCHOOL” mini-conference, where you can hear speakers who will address those concerns particular to the special needs homeschooling journey. This will take place in the Antelope Gym lecture hall 102/104 at the same time as the “YOU CAN HOMESCHOOL” mini-conference.


“YOU CAN HOMESCHOOL” and “Getting Started Homeschooling with Special Needs” will take place Thursday, July 15, 2-5 PM in the Antelope Gym and Lecture Halls. No registration or reservation is required. Arrive a little early to park and get to the building, and you can browse our sponsor tables and get acquainted with other attendees before we begin at 2 PM.

We are eager to help you get started or learn what you need to decide on your child’s best educational option for the coming year! Many others have set out on this path before you and understand your concerns and questions – come invest an afternoon to get informed and inspired!


The AFHE 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.
  • Drink plenty of water. You may bring water with you or there are concessions on site where it can be purchased.
  • Plan time for lunch. Eat snacks for energy throughout the day.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • If you get chilly in air conditioning, bring a light shawl or sweater. And as we will be moving between several buildings across the GCU campus this year, you might also want a hat, sunglasses, or even a small umbrella to shade you from the sun.
  • Enjoy some moments where you sit back and notice the community of like-minded families surrounding you.
  • Arrive in time to enjoy worship before the keynote address.
  • Stop by the Mentoring Moms booth and ask questions.
  • Soak it all up.

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

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