Thousands expected at Christian-focused home-school convention

Kristin Marino drove two hours from her hometown of Orrville in Wayne County to attend “Teach Them Diligently,” Columbus’ first Christian-focused, home-school convention.

“I came to get some encouragement from other teachers and moms like me,” Marino said. “My time with my kids is so short. I want to be involved in their lives as much as possible.”

Marino, 30, feels strongly about home schooling her three children, so she made the trip from northeastern Ohio to the Greater Columbus Convention Center to attend the three-day event that began Thursday.

She was among 5,000 like-minded parents and students at the convention, which includes workshops, speakers and an expo featuring vendors of curriculum and educational materials. Many of the workshops deal with faith.

Vendors at the expo selling history or science curriculum dealing with mankind’s beginning are required to sign a statement of faith of the Bible and young-Earth creationism — a belief that God created the Earth and humans on a much shorter timeline than the theory of evolution. Vendors dealing with other subject areas, such as math or grammar, are not required to do so.

Though the event is organized by a Christian organization, people of all faiths or no faith who are interested in home schooling are welcome, said David Nunnery, co-founder of Teach Them Diligently, a Christian home-schooling convention organizer based in South Carolina that organizes events across the country.

For the past three years, the Ohio convention has been held in Sandusky. Nunnery said the move to Columbus came about because he could not book the resort in Sandusky for the 2018 dates. He said the group did not want to skip Ohio because of its partnership with Christian Home Educators of Ohio.

The more central location is expected to boost attendance, so the group intends to return to Columbus in 2019.

“We love the community,” Nunnery said. “There’s a lot of home-schoolers in Columbus, and they’re very active. They want us here.”

The Ohio Department of Education does not collect official numbers on home-schooled students because students are required only to notify their home school districts. But the state estimates that more than 30,000 students — about 3 percent of Ohio students — are home-schooled.

Nunnery, who co-founded Teach Them Diligently with his wife, Leslie, said they believe home schooling is a way to foster good relationships between parents and their children.

“If you go to a public school, you’re there for eight hours a day, and then they have sports, and then they go to church and they’re separated in a youth group,” Nunnery said. “Children need engaged parents that they have meaningful relationships with, which are built on time spent together.”

Tickets are $85 for families and $65 for individuals attending all three days of the convention. It’s $65 for a single-day pass.

Originally published by The Columbus Dispatch on June 7, 2018.

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