04/12/2014 08:23 EDT | Updated 06/12/2014 05:59 EDT

Alberta homeschool convention offers creationist textbooks

Creationist textbooks may not be part of the Alberta public school curriculum but they're easy to find in Red Deer this weekend.

Parents from across western Canada are in town for the largest homeschooling convention in the country. Many of the textbooks found at the gathering are not found at public school and for those selling their wares this weekend, the convention offers parents a level of free choice in their children's education.

"If people want to learn about it then I think they should be able to learn about it," said Ann Cook with Intelligent Design, a Saskatoon company selling science textbooks that teach creationism. "I believe in the value of choice so I believe [you] should have the ability to choose what to believe."

In Alberta, parents wishing to homeschool their children must notify a school board or an accredited private school.

The school authority which accepts the parent's notification has the responsibility to provide support to the parents, if asked, and will work with the parents to make sure the child meets the parent's education goals.

A teacher from the school authority visits the child at least twice each year to measure their progress and observe the child as they perform learning tasks.

Role of Christ focus of keynote speech

The Red Deer convention is organized by Alberta Home Education Association, a Christian organization formed to support home educating families.

The theme of this year's conference is 'Strong Vision = Strong Families,' and will include a keynote speech by American pastor Norm Wakefield and his wife, Alma, on the topic, 'Anchored in Christ in the Storms of Homeschooling' as well as their experience teaching children with special needs.

For some parents, homeschooling fits better with their lifestyle than traditional schooling.

"For us, it was just a really good fit with our family and how we believed our children needed to learn," said Coralee Mercer, a parent from Mundare, Alta., who has homeschooled her children for eight years.

Mercer says she has several children with learning challenges and she didn't feel they were getting the help they needed in the public school system.

She also says the freedom to include creationism in the curriculum is appealing.

"I love the fact that I can take a subject — let's say, for instance, biology, which some of our high school kids are doing right now — are being able to look at the creation side of things and discuss the opposite — the evolution side — and really look at that from our point of view and help our kids to explore it and to learn and to make educated decisions based on both sides."