Home School Fairs
By Diane Ryckman
Would you be interested in representing NATHHAN at your local homeschool convention?
If you would like, NATHHAN has pamphlets and magazine samples available, as well as the following suggestions as to how you can be a NATHHAN representative and put together a simple but informative table sharing the ministry of NATHHAN with fellow special needs homeschoolers. Also included are suggestions for representing NATHHAN as a workshop or seminar leader.
Typically it costs to man a table at a convention. However, because NATHHAN is a non-profit organization, once approached, convention organizers are often willing to either waive the costs of a table, provide a corner of a table for NATHHAN, or at least provide a place for NATHHAN materials to be made available to those interested. This is because they realize that, though a small percentage of the homeschooling community, there is a real need for support and encouragement for special needs homeschoolers.
If you feel NATHHAN is helping to fill this need, why not look into sharing this ministry at your local homeschool convention this year.
My Experience as a NATHHAN Representative
For the past two years, I have had the privilege of representing NATHHAN at two different homeschool conventions here in British Columbia. Despite the nervousness that accompanies a first-time attempt (at least for me!), I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet fellow special needs homeschoolers, and to introduce people to the ministry of NATHHAN. I was also asked to do a workshop on special needs homeschooling (more nervousness!) which turned out to be a real blessing, as it ended up being an informal support group meeting chaired by me. From these two opportunities came the thought, "If I can do this, why not others?" and so the idea of a NATHHAN Booth-in-a-box was born.
For both conventions there were no costs involved with respect to a NATHHAN table. I simply explained to the organizers that as a non-profit organization NATHHAN did not have the funds, nor find it cost productive, to rent a table at a convention. However, as a volunteer I would be willing to man a NATHHAN table in order to be there for those parents homeschooling children with special needs. At the first convention (a large provincial one), I was given a corner of a table for a NATHHAN display. At the second (a smaller local convention), a whole table was provided for me. This year I was contacted regarding another smaller convention which, though I'm unable to attend in person, will have NATHHAN materials available in an area reserved for organizations unable to be represented personally. Three alternative ways of sharing the ministry of NATHHAN.
My NATHHAN booth included pamphlets to give away, back-copies of magazines for display, a mini-library to represent NATHHAN's lending library (consisting mainly of my own collection of books pertinent to special needs education), a box lid made up to look like a computer monitor with NATHHAN's website address printed across it, copies of Straight Talk I and II for display, and a sign up sheet for collecting addresses of those interested in receiving a free issue of NATHHAN NEWS. Compared to other tables, there were few who stopped at the NATHHAN booth (some would actually hurry by in fear that it might be mistaken that their child had special needs!). But for the few who did, discovering NATHHAN, and that there really are others out there facing similar challenges in homeschooling, was a real encouragement - both to them and to me!
The NATHHAN seminar was called "Homeschooling Your Child with Special Needs - You Can Do It!" Here I was able to introduce NATHHAN and the services it provides, display other special needs homeschooling resources, and also share a bit of our family's personal walk through special needs homeschooling. There were no more than a dozen other ladies at each seminar, and we were all able to glean from one another. It was an informal seminar, with each one participating and sharing their experiences and concerns as we touched on various areas of education. The only thing missing was a pot of tea and muffins!
NATHHAN booth suggestions:
- pamphlets to display and give away.
- back copies of the NATHHAN NEWS magazine for display
- a mini-library to represent NATHHAN's lending library
- a sign-up sheet for collecting addresses of those interested in an introductory copy of NATHHAN NEWS
- a monitor with NATHHAN's website displayed on it. This could be as elaborate as having your own computer with the NATHHAN website on display, having just a monitor with a print-out of the NATHHAN website stuck on the front of it, or using a box-lid standing on edge to represent a monitor
- a dark table cloth (or sheet) to cover the table, with a "banner" made by cutting out the individual letters of NATHHAN from white paper, stringing them together and hanging them in front of the table with the dark cloth behind
- a big smile and an encouraging word for each person who stops by your table!
NATHHAN seminar suggestions:
- introduce yourself and give a bit of background about your family and your experiences with special needs homeschooling
- introduce NATHHAN and the services it provides
- have an idea of the direction you want to go with the seminar, but encourage participation and sharing by other parents.
- be sensitive and flexible...prepared, but willing to go with the interests and needs of those attending
- touching on various areas of education works well as a spring board for discussion
- feel free to use any ideas you want from a letter to NATHHAN sharing what we covered at my first convention You can look on www.nathhan.com for this article.
- what about tea and muffins, or your favorite equivalent?