Congratulations, you’re going to a homeschool convention!
You’ve made the decision to attend a homeschool convention soon, but what now? How do you get the most out of your experience?
I’ve been attending homeschool conventions for 8 years, and have several tips for you to get the most out of your experience:
1. If you are attending from out of town, secure your lodging as soon as you have purchased your conference package. Many conferences work with hotels in the area and have discounted rates for attendees. These fill fast, so be sure to book quickly.
2. Figure out childcare well in advance. Many conferences offer children’s programs, so find out if your children are eligible to attend if that is something you desire. If you are not taking the children with you, figure out care and plan it as soon as possible.
3. Figure out your main “pain points” in your current homeschool experience. What are you looking to learn more about at this conference? Are you a new homeschooler looking to establish a strong school experience for your children? Are you looking for help with a special needs child? Do you just need a breather and some encouragement in your teaching? Determine your current needs to focus your planning.
4. Visit the conference website and plan which classes you would like to attend. Don’t plan more than 3 – 4 classes in a day, so you’ll have time for shopping, meals, and reading material. Most conferences offer recordings of the sessions for sale, at a cost of around $6 each class. You can always pick up recordings to take home with you and listen later.
5. Look through the website and find the list of vendors that will be attending the conference. By looking through them, you can get an idea about what supplies and curriculums will be for sale in the vendor hall. Make a list of items you will be shopping for while you are there. If you go in with a plan you will be less likely to overspend or make purchases you regret.
6. Figure out what you will do for meals. Will you bring your food, eat at the convention hall, or go off-site for meals? Many halls will have concessions or restaurants on-site, but are fairly expensive. It’s a good idea to bring your own snacks and water bottle if you will be on-site for the day.
7. Bring something with you to carry your purchases and items for the day. You will be in sessions for (generally) an hour at a time, then shopping in a large hall of vendors. You will also possibly have lunch for you and your children. Bring some kind of rolling tote that you can lug everything in together. (One note: Check the convention website and make sure a cart is allowed!)
8. Bring a notebook for taking notes during the sessions. Bring a clipboard as well. Most homeschool conventions are held in convention centers or hotel ballrooms and the classes are simply rooms full of chairs, no desks. You will most likely want to take notes and a clipboard will make that much easier!
9. Use the back pages of your notebook to plan your purchases in the vendor hall. Don’t ever buy anything on your way through the first time. Gather brochures or write down ideas and prices, and then find a place to look them over outside of the vendor hall. Only buy items on your original list, things you know will line up directly with what you are already doing, or books that you know will be used if they are put on your bookshelf.
10. Enjoy your time. A homeschool convention is a great place to refresh your batteries and reenergize your school year. Let yourself simply enjoy your time there. Don’t feel like you have to experience every single little aspect of the convention your first, second, or even sixth time there. You simply can not attend every class, and there will always be more time to attend other conventions. Attend what is most relevant to you where you are at this point in your homeschool journey. Homeschooling is a marathon, you don’t have to absorb every bit of information on every part of homeschooling at one time.
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