Next year I’ll be at the the Great Homeschool Convention in Ontario, California! I’m so excited about finally attending a conference after two years of not being able to fit it into our schedule.
(I am partnering with Great Homeschool Conventions who is sponsoring this giveaway.)
A few years ago I attended one of my first homeschool conventions. It was the experience of a lifetime!
But although I felt entirely connected to this movement, left workshops feeling challenged and motivated- I barely survived in the vendor halls.
Before you set foot at a homeschool convention, I’ll give you a few tips to help you make your way through the myriad of choices you’ll need to make.
Tips for Surviving Homeschool Conventions
1.) Don’t leave home until you take inventory.
Until you know exactly which curriculum you’ll need, you may find yourself open to any and all suggestions about what to purchase once you’re at the vendor halls. Believe me, I know.
I’ve made many instinctual purchases because I didn’t have a plan or hadn’t fully thought through all the curriculum I currently owned at home already.
Taking inventory of what you own will keep you from making duplicate purchases and help you to see how you can repurpose what you already have to fit a need before you purchase more.
2.) Become familiar with the speaker schedule and select your workshops before hand.
It will save you lots of time if you strategically plan which workshops will be most beneficial to you before you leave home. That way, once you’re at the convention you already know your schedule (where you and your spouse will be, and where your kids will be.)
Planning ahead of time gives your family the peace of mind you need to relax and just have a good time when you get there.
It also prepares your heart and mind to glean as much as you can from the workshops. You’ll get a whole lot more out of it if you plan to attend workshops that speak to your current homeschooling situation.
Remember, your goal is to leave refreshed, encouraged, and motivated, so pick the speakers and workshops you think will meet that need. ( Many times convention speakers and topic sessions are posted to the website weeks in advance.)
3.) Make a list of items and curricula that are easiest to purchase at the convention.
If I can purchase it easily at my local Target or Dollar Store, I don’t make it a priority on my convention checklist. (This includes materials like pencils, erasers, and notebook paper.)
I usually go for the bigger items- curricula- and maybe a few posters and workbooks.
4.) Arrive early.
This goes without saying. The earlier you can arrive, get your name tags, and get checked in- the easier it will be for your family to transition into this new all-day setting (especially if you have younger kids!)
5.) Get your kids situated.
Hopefully they’ve had a good breakfast and a good night’s sleep the night before. Once at the convention, brief your kids on where they’ll be (if they’re going to a teen track or kids’ event) and encourage them to have a great time.
If they stay with you, make sure they have plenty of activities to stay quiet and busy while you attend workshops. For younger kids, bring a blanket, crayons and coloring books, books to read, mess-free snacks,or even electronic games (just make sure to bring earbuds!)
If the kiddos aren’t cooperating and you have to leave a workshop early, don’t sweat it. Most bigger conventions have CD production service companies record each of their workshops which you can buy before you leave the convention. If you miss a workshop, you can usually grab the CD at the end of the workshop.
Older kids may enjoy reading or gaming, tinkering with smart phones, listening to ipods- or better yet- listening to the workshop speakers. (What better way to teach older kids to participate in workshops than by practicing their listening skills?)
6.) Know the schedule.
Here are some pertinent questions to ask yourself before the event begins:
- Will there be a used book sale between workshop breaks?
- If a used books sale is available, will you need to purchase used books first before you view the vendor hall?
- Where is the vendor hall?
- What time will vendors be selling curriculum?
- When will you have breaks between workshops and what will you do to maximize that time? (i.e-browsing curriculum in the vendor hall, picking up your kids for lunch?)
7.) Take a deep breath, and enjoy!
It’s your convention. Treat it like a retreat. This is your time to recharge for a new year of homeschooling, so take it all in and allow yourself to receive encouragement for another year of homeschooling your children.
This year I’ll be attending a convention sponsored by Great Homeschool Conventions! This is a great choice.
Would you like the chance to attend a homeschool convention for free?
Enter this raffle drawing to receive:
1 Family Registration + 2 passes to the Family Comedy Night + 1 pass to the REAL FAITH for the REAL WORLD Teen Track (your choice of 2014 convention location- if you’re the winner!)
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