Third Annual Santa Cruz Homeschool Conference

Hosted at the Discovery Learning Center
111 Errett Circle, Santa Cruz, CA

Online registration closed. You may still register at the door the day of the conference.

Our third annual Santa Cruz Homeschool Conference is a chance for building community, finding support, learning new things, and having fun for the whole family!  This one day event is especially for Santa Cruz County homeschoolers!

We welcome prospective, new, and experienced homeschoolers. Each session includes activities for adults and youth.

Overview of the Agenda:
9:00-10:00-- Registration, Meet and Greet, Door Prizes, Unconference Strand Sign Up

10:00-10:50-- Session One 
11:00-11:50-- Session Two
11:00-2:00-- Commercial exhibitors in the breezeway
12:00-1:00-- Lunch
1:00-3:00-- Session Three 
2:00-2:50-- Session Four                                                         
3:00-4:00-- Closing Keynote by Mika Gustavson- Parenting the Puggle: The Platypus Approach to Parenting Quirky Kids
3:00-4:30-- Bounce House Slide                                            
4:00-4:30-- Clean Up/Final Door Prizes

Our detailed conference agenda is now available!  

Click here to view a list of sessions being offered and their descriptions.  You won't want to miss anything so sign up today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to register?  What if I don't like using PayPal?

Yes, we are asking everyone to register by August 10th.  Online registration is closed but you may still register at the door.  After you submit the registration form, you will see a link to our Paypal button.  If you do not wish to use Paypal, you can send us a check for your registration along with a printed copy of the registration form to the address shown on the form. 

When should I arrive?

From 9-10am we'll be checking in at the registration table,  meeting each other, and setting the schedule for the unconference strand.  If you want to lead an unconference session, this will be the time to put your session on the our large agenda for all to see.  This will also be your chance to find others who are interested in the same topic who might be willing to co-lead a session with you.  We'll also have sign-ups for volunteer jobs throughout the day-- if you are planning to volunteer, come early to get the best pick of volunteer spots!  Coffee, tea, and light refreshments will be available all morning.

Arriving early will also make you eligible for door prizes that will be offered throughout the first hour of the conference!  

Will we be inside or outside?  Should I bring sunscreen?

Registration and lunch will be outdoors.  Most of the locations for youth activities will be outdoors and some adult sessions may be held outdoors.  So yes, please bring sunscreen.

From a Past Participant

"During several sessions [I] realized others have children with similar personalities, gifts and interests as ours.  [It] was great to hear that others are sharing similar challenges and joys.  [The] community aspect was great!"

I want to give a talk.  What should I do?

We stopped taking proposals for scheduled sessions on May 31st, but you can still add a session to our UnConference strand on the day of the conference.  When you arrive, we'll give you a session form on which you can write your name and session title and description.  You will pick a time and location for your session on our group agenda.  We encourage participants to co-lead if you have similar ideas for a talk as another attendee.   

There is no 'right way' to lead a session at the Santa Cruz Homeschool Conference.   However, in the last two years we've received many positive comments about sessions that included interaction and discussion.  Choose a format for your session that will help you achieve your goals.

Possible formats include:
  • The longer formal presentation.
  • A short presentation:  Five to 15 minutes of prepared material/comments by the session leader to get things started, followed by an interactive discussion.
  • Group discussion:  Someone identifies a topic they are interested in, then others come to join the conversation and an interesting discussion happens.
  • My Big (or Little) Question:  This would be a great format for an unconference strand.  You have a question you want to know the answer to, and you think others in the group could help you answer it. This format could also just be the seed of a conversation.
  • Show and tell:  You have a cool project, a demo, or just something to show and let people play with that is the springboard for all the conversation in the session.
  • Learn how to do "X":  If you're inclined to teach, this can be simple and effective. Bring the equipment that you need, and have a plan that will let you teach five, 10, or 15 people how to do something all at the same time.

Each session will be approximately 50 minutes, so plan accordingly.  If you want to give a formal presentation, we suggest you plan to speak for 20-30 minutes and then use the remaining 20-30 minutes for discussion.  You might also want to host a roundtable in which you offer to facilitate a discussion of people who share a common interest such as Waldorf homeschooling.  We will have one room with a projector.  If you have a handout you want to share, we suggest bringing 10-15 copies.  We have a copier on site if you need to make a few more.

Participants who run a session will be reimbursed half of their registration fee at the end of the day.

My child or I have an activity for kids we'd like to bring.  What should I do?

Wonderful!  We are excited to make this a family event and we're glad you have an idea for a youth session! We stopped taking proposals for scheduled sessions on May 31st, but you can still add a session to our UnConference strand on the day of the conference.  

Each session will be approximately 50 minutes, so plan your activity to last about that long.  The Discovery Learning Center can provide some basic supplies like pencils, scissors, and crayons but you will need to bring anything else you need for your activity as a donation to the event.  Plan to provide materials for 15-20 participants.   We especially welcome activities like bubble blowing or cooperative games that could fit any size group. Our planned locations for kids activities will be in our classroom and outdoors and includes two small picnic tables, folding tables, and an open field area.

Participants who run a session will be reimbursed half of their registration fee at the end of the day.

From a Past Participant

"It was helpful to hear others’ perspectives and gather resources."
Can I charge a materials fee for my activity?

Please do not plan to offer an activity in which you would have to charge a materials fee.  The Discovery Learning Center can provide a group set of scissors, pencils, markers, glue, or paint for your activity.  Plan to offer activities for which you can donate all other materials or supplies.  If you have a great idea for an activity that would require a materials fee, contact us about setting it up during the Discovery Learning Center's regular hours!

Tell me more about the keynote.  What's that all about?

Here's a description of the talk and a bit about Mika!

If you brought home a kitten or a puppy from a shelter, you would probably have some basic ideas about how to care for it -- and if you didn’t , you would go to your friends who have cats or dogs, or go read a book about them. This is also how a lot of us have gone about raising our children -- but not all of us have a cat, or a dog. We might have a rabbit, or a monkey, or even a puggle (baby platypus) -- and you can’t raise a puggle with a puppy manual. Realizing you have a puggle changes your expectations and behaviors, and especially your relationships with your child, the world and yourself. This lecture will focus on the experience of being a parent to a puggle, and how embracing that difference in your child can be the key to happier, more successful parenting.

Mika Gustavson, MA, MFT is a counselor who specializes in helping the gifted to thrive. She is the director of Gifted Matters, where she supports families considering paths-less-taken in learning, nurturing and parenting. She maintains a private practice for parents of QUASIE (QUirky, Anxious, Sensitive, Intense, Excitable) children, as well as working directly with adolescents and young adults, and trains other professionals on issues touching on giftedness, homeschooling and parenting. Ms. Gustavson is also an organizer of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum’s Professionals Division. She has published many articles in print and online venues, and is the co-author, with Corin Barsily Goodwin, of two books: Making the Choice: When Typical School Doesn’t Fit Your Atypical Child, and Writing Your Own Script: A Parent’s Role in the Gifted Child’s Social Development. She works, lives and homeschools in Silicon Valley, with her husband, son, an ever-changing menagerie and too many crochet projects.

I want to share my business for homeschoolers at the conference.  Can I do that?

This year we will welcome area businesses that provide services for homeschoolers to set up in the breezeway outside during lunch.  Please plan to set up around 11:00 and clean up by 2:00.  Bring your own table and handouts for attendees or other resources that describe your services.  Please RSVP to if you plan to participate.  We ask that those who are providing services to homeschoolers promote their businesses at this time only and not at other times during the conference.  We would appreciate it if you would print and post a flyer at your place of business to help promote the event.

I'd like to volunteer and get half off my registration.  How does that work?

Great!  During each session and during the keynote, we will have volunteer positions (mostly to help with youth activities) and we need volunteers to help with clean up at the end of the day.  When you arrive at the conference, sign up at the registration table for a volunteer spot.  We ask all potential volunteers to register themselves or their family at the current rate.  At the end of the conference, we'll reimburse you by cash or check for half of your registration fee.  The conference is run entirely by volunteers, so we need your support!

I'm new to homeschooling this year, should I attend?

Yes!  The conference will be a great opportunity to meet other homeschooling families and ask lots of questions.  We will have sessions of interest to both new and experienced homeschoolers.

Do I have to be with my kids during the conference?

If your child is 12 years old or older, he or she can participate in adult led activities without you being present.  You should each know where the other person is during the session, which will be easy in our relatively small venue.  If your child is under 12 years of age, we ask that you either be with your child or sign them into a session with the volunteer supporting each youth session.  We are offering these ages as guidelines, and ask that parents use their best judgement on this decision.

Where do I eat lunch?
We suggest that you bring a picnic lunch for your family and eat on the lawn or at one of the picnic tables.  We'll have a shady place to leave lunches, so make sure your cooler or basket has identifying information on it.  There are also a number of great restaurants nearby and several grocery stores that sell ready-made food.  You can find a map of area restaurants here and a map of area stores here.  

Why do you need my email address?

We'll be sending out some information and reminders to all the participants in the week before the unconference.  We won't put your name on any other lists or give it to anyone else without your permission.  

Are there any door prizes?

Yes!  We'll be giving away "Must be Present to Win" door prizes about every fifteen minutes from 9-10am during the registration and organizational session and again at the end of the day at 4:30pm.  Come early for a better chance to win a prize!  We'll be offering gift certificates for memberships to the Discovery Learning Center as well as some great donations from area businesses.  If you wish to donate a door prize, please contact

What if I have other questions or want to help set up the conference?

Feel free to email us at or contact Heddi Craft, event organizer, by phone at 831-818-8178.

We'd also love it if you spread the word about the conference.  You can print our flyer to hang up or distribute at your local homeschool program or wherever you think homeschoolers might see it.