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Houston’s Catholic Home Education Conference

Learn the beauty of homeschooling

Are you homeschooling or thinking about adopting this timeless approach to education? For those who are interested in discovering more about Catholic homeschooling, the Catholic Home Educators Collective-Houston (CHECH) is holding its inaugural conference on Saturday, Feb. 3, in the Jerabeck Center on the University of St. Thomas-Houston campus. Expect to find inspiration, abundant information, valuable resources and a supportive community.

The daylong opportunity begins at 8:00 a.m. with registration. Mass is at 8:30. Conference presentations and vendor exhibits take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Registration is $50 per individual or $60 per couple. Registration fee includes lunch and membership in CHECH.

Keynote Speaker, Kimberly Hahn, M.A.Keynote Speaker Kimberly Hahn

Author, podcaster and homeschooling parent Kimberly Hahn, M.A. in Theological Studies, will be the keynote speaker. Hahn homeschooled her six children and authored or co-authored books that include “Catholic Education: Homeward Bound,” “Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism,” “Life-Giving Love: Embracing God’s Beautiful Design for Marriage,” and a 4-part series on the Proverbs 31 woman. Her popular podcast is called “Beloved and Blessed.”

Hahn will deliver two talks at the conference. The first, “How to Fail at Homeschooling,” will be a tongue-in-cheek approach to the 10 ways to succeed as a home educator regardless of background, teaching experience or financial resources. Her second presentation will be entitled “Teenagers: The Potential.” Here, she explores the vital role homeschooling can play in the lives of adolescents, from character development to overall education for the heart and mind.

A Rapidly Growing Form of Education

Homeschooling, an alternative to public or private school, has been called the country’s fastest growing form of education. Though data sources do not all agree, the National Home Education Research Institute’s “best effort” estimate is that there were 3.721 million school-age (K-12) homeschool students in the U.S. during the COVID-affected 2020-2021 school year. To put that figure into perspective, the number of homeschooled kids in 1970 was only 13,000.

Hahn offers a reason for the unprecedented growth in our harried, say-hello-in-passing world.

She said, “The Beauty of Home Education is that it gives a family more together-time to solidify relationships, to communicate values, and to focus on each child’s individual needs in a consistent and unhurried atmosphere.”

Doing Is Believing

Homeschool educators, Diane and Dr. Dominic Aquila with their 11 children and grandchildren at a recent weddingNobody knows the benefits of Catholic homeschooling better than CHECH Founder and President Diane Aquila. With her husband — UST Associate Division Dean of Liberal Studies, Fine and Performing Arts Dr. Dominic Aquila — she has successfully homeschooled all 11 of their children, incorporating traditions and faith-based values along the way. Eight of the couple’s children earned graduate degrees; the youngest is still in college.

“What made me stick with this timeless approach to education is the grace of God, the good we saw for our family,” Mrs. Aquila said. “Homeschooling allowed us to help each of our children find a way forward educationally and spiritually.”

Additional Speakers and Opportunities for Community

Other CHECH Conference speakers include:

·      Jenny Bales – She runs a Catholic homeschooling support website. Her talk is “Heartstrings &Habits How to Bloom as a Homeschooling Mom.”

·      Steffani Aquila – She is a UST alumna. Her topic title is “Home Altars and Lesson Plans: Homeschooling with the Catholic Calendar as Your Guide.”

·      Dr. Dominic Aquila – He is a UST Professor of History and homeschooling dad of 11.

·      Dr. Jon Kirwan – He is the UST director of Graduate Programs, an Associate Professor of Theology, and a homeschooling dad of six.

·      Arthur Ortiz – He is UST’s VP for Strategic Partnerships and Community Engagement.

Aiming to provide as much support as possible, the conference will feature a dad’s panel and an alumni panel. Furthermore, CHECH is forming a mom’s mentor program.

Aquila said, “We want all our attendees to know they are not alone and that CHECH is here to help them succeed.”

Like Diane Aquila, all CHECH board of director members have ties to UST. They are Debbie Harne, Olivi Kirwan, Jessica Counts, Diana Hayes and Casey Torello.