James McAllister, 13, helps Alex Marchesani, 15, as they and fellow home school students play chess at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Springettsbury
James McAllister, 13, helps Alex Marchesani, 15, as they and fellow home school students play chess at St. John's Lutheran Church in Springettsbury Township. The York Home School Association provides the once-a-week event along with the upcoming curriculum fair, set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the York Expo Center. (PHOTOS BY John A. Pavoncello — jpavoncello@yorkdispatch.com)

Home schooling four children during a winter like this one can be a challenge.

Maureen Garver, who teaches her children — ages 5, 10, 12 and 13 — said their Spring Garden home has begun to feel like an "island."

But it's likely that island feeling will disappear when Garver arrives at a curriculum fair this weekend, hosted by the York Home School Association Saturday, March 29.

She plans to search for used curriculum that will save her money on textbooks and other materials, and hopes to connect with other home-schooling families in the area. Garver said large events such as the curriculum fair remind her there are other parents who take on the same role of teaching their children from home.

Amelia Smith, 6 left, Megan McAllister, also 6 and Rebecca Roth, 8, right, play with dolls as their brothers play chess during a home school student event
Amelia Smith, 6 left, Megan McAllister, also 6 and Rebecca Roth, 8, right, play with dolls as their brothers play chess during a home school student event at St. John's Lutheran Church in Springettsbury Township.

The event will be held for the first time at the York Expo Center, because the group outgrew the large local churches where it is normally held. Last year, about 500 people attended.

Savings: Garver will bring a list of books and materials she wants to pick up at discount. At the top of her list will be math textbooks created by a company called Saxon. Garver estimates a full-price book costs about $50. Her first year at the fair, she picked up a third-grade Saxon Math book for $10.

"You can really find a deal," she said.

The fair is open to members of the association, home school families who aren't a part of the group and anyone curious about home schooling. The fair will include families selling their used curriculum, vendors who can explain how to use certain materials and activities for children and their families.

Learn more: Valerie Wickard, a home-schooling mother of two, said the fair is a great time for families to investigate whether switching to home school is right for them.

"It's a chance to ask some of the questions that are making them hesitate," Wickard said. The fair has a "sharing area" every year where people with questions can talk with families who have experience in home schooling, as well as orientations scheduled throughout the day where people can learn more about the legal requirements regarding home schooling.

Garver and Wickard said the feeling of community evident at the fair is found year-round in many of the association's activities: There are a chess club for students, a co-op where they can take classes from someone other than a parent, and support groups for parents.

Garver said the numerous activities remind her she's not the only one in York teaching her children.

"I'm not going to be this crazy person out in the middle of nowhere," Garver said.

The curriculum fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Expo Center's Old Main Building, 334 Carlisle Ave. in York. A $2 donation per family is suggested. For more details, visit www.yhsa.org.

— Reach Nikelle Snader at nsnader@yorkdispatch.com.