It’s the most wonderful time of year for homeschoolers: homeschool convention season. It’s a time to peruse all the different homeschool curricula, connect with fellow homeschooling families, and listen to renowned veteran homeschool parents speak on a multitude of topics.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to attend multiple conventions because the season runs through late summer.
Attending our state’s annual homeschool convention always helped to reaffirm the lifestyle choice to teach my children at home and to refresh my mind and spirit.
Visit the Used Book Sale FirstMost homeschooling conventions host a used book sale. Start there. While this is a good spot to find gently used curriculum as well as reference books for yourself, you can also find books to add to your kids’ reading lists, unused workbooks, CDs and DVDs, musical instruments, and all sorts of fun extras to add a little sparkle to your homeschool.
Avoid Buying New Books, MaterialsI know it’s tempting to shop at these conventions. Everything looks amazing. Everything has the potential to be a must-have for your homeschool. Patience is your superpower, because it can get expensive. This is the time to look at the books and materials that interest you. Take good notes so you can compare and contrast later. Then, once you’re home, you’ll have time to consider what products and curricula will best suit your homeschooling philosophy and your kids’ needs.
Buy One-of-a-Kind SuppliesWhile it isn't wise to purchase curriculum on-site, it's savvy to shop for and buy one-of-a-kind supplies if your budget allows.
Plan Your Time WiselyVisit the convention’s website prior to convention day to determine which speakers will be in attendance. Make a list of those you’re interested in hearing and note the day, time, and location of the presentation. This will no doubt be a long list, so you’ll need to prioritize. Fortunately, most conventions record the presentations for exactly this purpose. So if you find yourself feeling like there are so many speakers but so little time, you can purchase professionally recorded sessions for just a few dollars each.
Use the time in between speakers’ sessions to stroll around the vendor hall looking at curriculum, books, and materials. This is your chance to get an up-close-and-personal look at each vendor’s products, to take notes, and ask questions. While many vendors offer sample pages for viewing on their websites, it often isn't enough to get a good sense of the product. Ask if you can snap photos to help you remember key characteristics of the curriculum and materials.
Fellowship With Other HomeschoolersWhile you wait for the speaker to begin or wait in line to view curriculum, introduce yourself to those around you. Share wisdom.
Also, introduce yourself to the vendors and the speakers. This is a great time to connect, share your positive review of a vendor’s product, or express gratitude for a speaker’s insights. Your words may just be the highlight of their day.