Entering the huge exhibit hall brings a rush of emotions. Where do I go first? Should I grab the curriculum I want now? It’s exciting, but can be overwhelming. Homeschool convention season is upon us! No matter what state you live in, there’s sure to be a homeschool convention near you (yes, even Alaska!). You’re ready — and hopefully, you’re excited about what you’ll experience and learn. Before you lace up your sneakers and oil the stroller’s wheels, there are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to attending a homeschool convention. Let’s dive right in.
The Do’s of Homeschool Conventions
DO plan ahead. Which vendor booths do you want to hit (besides ours, of course)? Which workshops do you want to attend? Whom do you want to hear speak? Planning ahead will do wonders for your family and avoid burnout. If you can, look at a homeschool convention itinerary and workshop lists before you leave to maximize the most of your time there. If you’re taking everyone, make sure your family is involved in the process. Your kids would love to pick out what they want to do!
DO pace yourself. Homeschool conventions have a LOT to offer but can make your head spin. We can’t see or hear or do everything! When it comes to workshops and keynote speakers, usually they will have recordings available for purchase afterward. Pop a CD into the car stereo system or insert the DVD into the video player on your own time. Interested in a vendor but don’t have the time to chat with them? Pick up their contact information and contact them later. If you’re new to homeschooling, this whole new world can seem overwhelming at times. Pacing yourself will give you and your family much-needed breaks. After all, you can nap at the hotel for a little bit if you really need the rest!
DO make connections. Whether you’re a seasoned homeschooler or a newbie, making connections with other homeschool vendors and families will help you learn, grow, and shine as a homeschooling parent. Chat with homeschool families about how to teach to a child’s learning style. Bring paper and pen to jot down questions and concerns to share with workshop presenters afterward. Make new friends and set up a homeschooling group on Facebook or via email. It’s often the connections you make that create the best and most helpful memories from homeschool conventions!
The Don’ts of Homeschool Conventions
DON’T forget to pack an extra suitcase to lug all that new curriculum around. With so many vendors at a homeschool convention, there’s bound to be a LOT of curriculum. You’ll quickly find that the stroller basket won’t hold the amount of curriculum you need, so you’ll need either a carry-on or regular-size suitcase, depending on the amount of curriculum you plan to purchase. And if there’s a great deal on curriculum you’ve had your eye on for awhile, this is the best time to purchase! And don’t forget to price match! Ask if the vendor will ship the curriculum to you so you don’t have to lug it around. Curriculum Express does!
DON’T forget snacks. The last thing you need is your stomach rumbling at 10:00 AM when lunch seems far, far off. Pack snacks, water, and gum or candy to keep you focused during workshops. Remember, homeschool conventions are like a trip to Walt Disney World. Prepare for your physical health as well as your mental health. Jessica Parnell has some great tips for homeschool convention season here.
DON’T go. Wait … What? Homeschool conventions can be very overwhelming for a parent who is considering homeschooling as well as the newbie. It might be best to stay home and network with homeschooling families in your area. Or if the world of homeschooling just seems like overload, consider an accredited partner to support you instead of attending a convention. The best homeschool programs include support, accreditation, and curriculum counseling. It’s like having an entire homeschool convention at your fingertips or one call away!
Ready … Set … Convention!
Attending a homeschool convention can be fun and inspirational if you do it right. Planning ahead, pacing yourself, and making connections make a homeschool convention visit worth every penny. If you decide not to go this year, that’s okay! They’re not for everyone, and you can find tons of support online or with a homeschool partner. Bridgeway Academy wants you to be prepared no matter what!
Come visit us this year at the following locations:
- Great Homeschool Convention: Fort Worth, Texas (March 15-17)
- Great Homeschool Convention: Cincinnati, Ohio (April 12-14)
- IDEA (Interior Distance Education of Alaska) Curriculum Fair (Soldotna: Tues, April 24, 2018; Fairbanks: Mon, April 30, 2018; Juneau: Wed, May 2, 2018)