I love homeschool conventions! Local and nationally, we are given many opportunities to discover treasures of information, be with like-minded people, explore curriculum options, and learn from vendors and workshop speakers. The excitement and anticipation build until I am there and experiencing as much as I choose.
I remember my first homeschool conference, while very informative, was also overwhelming! I did not know what to expect and I didn’t have a plan. Later, I did my research and was much better prepared the next year.
Now I watch for anyone with that “deer in headlights” look to offer encouragement. I start by suggesting: Don’t try to do everything. It is impossible because there is so much there! Picture it like going grocery shopping. You don’t look at every single product in the store. And you certainly do not buy every item. You avoid temptations, have a list to go by, and only get what you can afford.
When my kids graduated, I realized I would no longer be attending home school conventions and it made me sad. I had attended one every single year for my entire homeschooling career and got so much out of each one! Since then, I have volunteered at our local one, as well as had jobs directly connected to homeschoolers, so I am still involved and able give back by helping others.
So here are my tips for having a successful homeschool convention experience!
- Pray for guidance and peace with your decisions.
- Go over everything with your spouse or mentor and listen to their ideas.
- Determine what you need for this year. Is it a new or replacement curriculum? Or are you happy with your current curricula but are looking for some variety in your teaching style? Are you perplexed about a child’s learning style, so you are seeking expert guidance? What other reasons?
- Research your local and regional convention websites. Look for your curriculum vendors to be there. And if they are speaking at a workshop – even better! Check out the speakers and special guests. Do any of them fit what you are seeking? Select one convention that seems the best fit for your needs.
- Make your reservation. Don’t forget hotel or overnight accommodations if you will be traveling.
- Make a list and organize your time. Write out what subjects (per child), vendors, and supplies you are searching for. Next, revisit the workshop schedule and prioritize which sessions you will attend, and which ones will you buy a recording of. Finally, set aside specific times when you will shop in the vendor hall.
- If you can print off the convention schedule, highlight and make notes in it for quick and easy reference when you are there.
- Make a budget – and stick to it. We sat aside a small amount of money each month so that we had what we needed each year. And if cash only helps you to not overspend – then do that. Realize that you may have to settle for a second choice occasionally, and that is ok. You will still be educating your kids.
- Pack your lunch and snacks, or money to buy them. Plus, plenty of water to keep hydrated.
- Wear comfortable clothing and good walking shoes. You will be standing, sitting, and getting those steps in as you move from the vendor hall to workshops to your car and back.
- Get a rolling cart and use it. Or have a reusable canvas tote bag or two and get there early so you can park close to be able to offload your goods several times throughout the day. Books get bulky and heavy quickly!
- Another option is to shop the convention and order from vendors later.
Now you are prepared and ready to successfully attend your homeschool convention!
Make plans to go with your spouse, family, small group of home educators, or even alone. Visit with those vendors that pertain to your needs. Attend presentations and learn new things. Make time for breaks to unwind a bit, revisit your list and schedule, and laugh with others.
Enjoy your homeschool convention and remember, it is there for you!
I love God, family, friends, and encouraging people. I enjoy helping others in the education world from my experience in my job and from when I homeschooled my kids. As a wife, Mom, brand new Grandma, and the Education and Homeschool Web Merchandiser, I hope my blog articles are helpful to you as we live life together.