I’ll never forget the excitement of attending my first homeschool convention. During the first year we switched to homeschooling, we attended a convention just two hours from our house. I vividly remember booking the hotel, planning the activities we would do as a family. I spent hours searching the convention website for maps, workshop information, and the various vendors. When I arrived, I instantly felt at ease surrounded by people who held a similar philosophy, lifestyle, and commitment to educating our children.
Then the doors opened. I was instantly overwhelmed by several people, information, and curriculum. I left the convention with my eyes wide open as to what homeschool conventions can and cannot offer homeschooling families, as well as a great view of what to consider moving forward.
Homeschool conventions, like the Great Homeschool Convention, Texas Homeschool Convention, and Midwest Homeschool Convention, are right around the corner. Just because you live nearby or an avid homeschooling family doesn’t mean you should attend. If you’re wondering whether or not to attend a homeschool convention this year, here are three great reasons to attend, and three other reasons to perhaps stay home instead.
You are new to homeschooling and want to find new strategies, tips, and tools for a great homeschooling experience.
The workshops at homeschool conventions offer valuable information that can help you get started. You will learn how to develop a homeschool routine, how to choose curriculum, and how to find the right homeschool style for your family. To keep from getting overwhelmed, make a list of your top 10 homeschooling questions like, “How can I make homeschooling more fun,” or “How can I find a schedule that works for me.” Select workshops at the homeschool convention that best answer those questions. Plan to attend two or three workshops each day. More than that, you risk information overload. If you find there are more workshops you’d like to attend, buy the recordings to review at a later date.
You want to learn about the newest curriculum available and find the best prices.
Homeschool conventions are the mecca for curriculum sales. Most homeschool publishers attend the larger conventions, so you’ll have access to different styles and new techniques. These help you find the right fit for your child—or children—and can provide you with a whole new perspective on using the curriculum you already own. If you know what you want to purchase, go with a list in hand. Be sure to price match and know your child’s learning style ahead of time so that you can find the best curriculum fit for those subjects.
You’re experiencing homeschooling difficulties, especially if your child has learning disabilities.
Conventions are a great place to pick up new homeschooling strategies, tips, and ideas for homeschooling children with disabilities. They also open your eyes to a very important fact: you’re not alone! At a convention, you’ll meet others who are in the same boat and struggle with the same homeschooling issues. Attending workshops and talking with other parents is a great way to make relationships with those who face similar challenges. You’ll leave with more ideas on how to fix your homeschooling woes, and feel less alone.
3 Reasons to Stay Home
You’re a seasoned homeschooler and aren’t looking for new ideas or curriculum.
Most publishers will run specials at the convention, yes, but there are other times of the year where you can get a great deal on homeschool curriculum without spending the money on travel and a convention. As homeschoolers, we all understand the value of using our time both wisely and efficiently.
You’re just getting started in homeschooling and easily overwhelmed.
If you fall into this category, you may want to stay away from homeschool conventions in general. The crowds, tons of curriculum choices, and the many methods you’ll experience could send you into confusion. A better method for you may be to connect with a local homeschooling group or homeschool partner that can meet your individual needs without providing you with so many options that you go into analysis paralysis.
You’re not yet a homeschooling family and are unsure if homeschooling is right for you.
Instead, meet with other homeschoolers and homeschooling partners. Come to a decision about homeschooling before going to a homeschool convention. Conventions fill up with those who love it and are fully committed to homeschooling. If you’re not there yet, you may be overwhelmed or put off by the level of everyone’s commitment to homeschooling as the best way to educate. Once you become convinced that homeschooling is right for your family, attending a convention is a great way to get started.
Just because there’s a homeschool convention in your area doesn’t mean you need to attend. Tread into convention season and the convention hall with your eyes wide open and a clear idea of what to expect. If you choose to attend, prepare in advance. Stay tuned for Part II of our homeschool convention season: what every homeschool convention attendee needs to know before going.
Are you planning on attending a homeschool convention this season? Tell us which one, and why you love it, in a comment below!