The booths full of incredible curriculums, the classes that will solve all of my homeschool concerns, and the rooms full of people I can relate to……I’m in heaven in the middle of a homeschool convention!
As a homeschool mom, I must confess I love homeschool conventions. I love attending them. I love talking about them. I love looking through the guides and planning my days at them. I love to write about them and have a whole series on my site you can find at this link.
I have a degree in education. I literally have a piece of paper that says I am knowledgeable and able to teach children, but I still learn something new EVERY time I attend a convention.
I went to three conventions last year.
We decided to homeschool my oldest when she was two. About a year later, I went to my first convention because I was not sure where to begin with this whole homeschool idea. I walked into the vendor hall, and immediately felt completely overwhelmed by everything in sight. There was soooo much! So much curriculum, so many people, and so many options. Thankfully, I was only attending for the day, as I blew our budget for the year on shiny curriculum before I’d even attended my first class…and then we only used a little of what I bought!
Since that first convention eight years ago, I’ve learned quite a bit about surviving, and thriving, at homeschool conventions.
5 Lessons for Surviving a Homeschool Convention
1. Never, ever buy anything the first time you walk through the exhibit hall.
Take your time, walk through and enjoy looking at the curriculum, but don’t buy on your first time in the hall.
2. Take time to look through the list of speakers and classes before leaving for the convention.
At every convention I’ve attended, the list was available online months in advance. Use the list and come up with a preliminary schedule for your experience at the convention.
3. Be flexible.
A class that looked great online may not seem like the best use of your time during your experience. You are not obligated to follow your itinerary simply because you planned it ahead of time.
4. Understand that it’s very likely you are not going to agree with a presenter at some point.
Every single homeschool family is different, and every presenter comes from a different perspective. If there’s a presenter you don’t agree with, let it roll off your back and simply move on. Learn more about preventing a speaker from ruining your homeschool at this link.
5. Bring a rolling cart.
You are at a homeschool convention…with people selling books…and books are heavy. Your back and shoulders will thank you for bringing a cart to carry your books. You want to leave with ideas and inspiration, not bruises and back pain. Visit this link to order my favorite rolling cart for a convention.
5 Lessons for Thriving at a Homeschool Convention
1. Always bring a notebook and take notes.
You will come away with some great ideas for your school, but the amount of information can be staggering. Anything that you find helpful should be written down. You will want to also bring a clipboard or book to press on, as convention classes are generally held in rooms with just chairs, no desks.
2. Plan to attend no more than 3-4 sessions per day.
It’s incredibly tempting to pack your day with classes, but it’s not possible to concentrate well on 7 or 8 sessions in a single day, be able to shop intelligently in the vendor hall, and fit in your meals and down time. If you plan to attend only 3 to 4 of the most relevant sessions each day, you’ll gain more from them than you will if you spread yourself too thin. At most conventions, you can purchase any missed sessions for around $6 each. I usually plan to purchase one or two and listen on the way home. If there’s a session that you really love, you can also purchase it to listen to again.
3. Treat the convention as a time to refresh and re-energize your batteries.
Do what you can to minimize distractions. Take breaks and take the time to read through your materials. If you need to bring children, use the childcare on site or let them bring things to keep themselves occupied. Give yourself some space to enjoy your experience. Visit this link to learn more about occupying kids at a convention.
4. Budget for the convention several months ahead of your attendance.
Budget for the curriculum or books you will be buying. If possible, make space for eating out and a hotel room. When you make the room in the budget, you are able to relax while you’re attending. Take a list with you of what needs you are searching to fill in the vendor hall. If you go in with a list, you’ll be much less tempted to buy something you know you don’t need.
5. Don’t be afraid to talk to the strangers around you.
You are amongst friends. A homeschool convention is one of the only places you will ever go as a homeschool parent where almost everyone agrees with your educational decisions. If you attend a convention close to home, it’s likely you will see homeschoolers from your general area every year. Get to know them. You’ve already got homeschooling in common with them, and it’s likely you’re in a class together on another issue you have in common. You can meet some great friends by introducing yourself and breaking the ice!