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10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Homeschool Convention
If you homeschool and you’ve never experienced a homeschool convention, this is your sign that it’s time to make it happen! It’s not something you have to attend every single year, but it’s absolutely worth giving it a try, at least once. Although I’m sure you’ll be back again and again!
To ensure that your homeschool convention experience is truly rewarding, here are some tips from a seasoned convention goer:
1. Register ahead of time.
It’s just one less thing to have to worry about once you arrive. You’ll have a shorter line to wait in, not to mention you can typically get a cheaper price if you register early. Depending on the convention you plan to go to, you may be able to get a good deal if you sign up to volunteer for a few hours during the convention.
2. Bring a friend.
It’s always nice to have a friend along who has been to a convention before. But even if you’re both novice convention goers, having a friend to spend the weekend with makes it that much more fun. And a major bonus is you can split workshops and then share notes, or split the vendor floor to cover more ground. Personally, I like to bring my wonderful hubby along. It’s a great way to help him to feel like he’s a part of this whole homeschool venture.
3. Become familiar with the layout.
You’re going to want to know where the workshop rooms are, where the exhibitor floor is, where the restrooms are, and where you’re going to find food. You don’t want to waste precious convention time trying to find your way around. Don’t forget to chart how to get from your hotel to the parking garage to the convention!
4. Plan your workshop schedule.
There are a lot of workshop options. You’ll likely want to go to more than you’re physically capable of. Find the workshop schedule online before you go and read up on each one that sounds intriguing to you. Make the hard decisions of which workshops you’ll go to and map out the times and the locations. Especially if the workshop is run by a common homeschool name, you’ll want to get there fairly early. Keep your schedule with you at all times! Sure, you may change things up while you’re there, but it’ll save you all sorts of time and stress when you have everything already planned out.
5. Know exactly what you need.
The exhibitor floor will be overwhelming. It’s an exciting and fun overwhelming, but overwhelming nonetheless. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be drooling over just about every other booth you walk by. You’ll suddenly feel like you need everything. You’ve got to be prepared before you walk away with everything! Have a list of booths you want to visit, curriculum you want to scour, and subjects you want to focus on. A little trick my husband and I came up with is, we do a full walkthrough of the expo the first day we arrive. We discuss our favorites and narrow down what we want to purchase. Then, just a few hours before we plan to head home a day or two later, we split up and blitz our way through, only stopping to purchase what we decided ahead of time to get. It’s a method that has never let us down!
6. Stick to your budget.
Having a budget will really help with not buying all sorts of things you think you need but will end up never touching when you get home. We use cash so when it’s gone, it’s gone!
7. Bring a rolling cart or backpack.
If you plan to stock up on all your curriculum while at the convention, a rolling cart is essential! A comfortable and sturdy backpack or bag could suffice depending on how much you plan to purchase.
8. Dress for comfort.
Especially on the day you plan to walk the expo floor, you’re going to need some comfortable shoes! You could very well be on your feet for 6 hours or more. Even when you’re spending most of your time in workshops, you’ll want to dress in such a way that allows you to not only focus while in the workshop, but also hop up and rush off to the next one!
9. Don’t forget to eat!
I’ve been there- so engrossed in booth after booth of homeschooling treasures that I completely forgot about food or even water until I was feeling light headed and dizzy! Don’t let that happen to you. Keep some snacks and water with you or, better yet, schedule lunch with friends so you have to take a break.
10. Leave feeling refreshed and inspired!
I honestly never thought I would bother going to a homeschool convention until years ago a friend of mine said I just had to go. One trip and I was hooked. It’s not just about buying curriculum or meeting your favorite podcast host. It’s not even about the workshops. It’s all wonderful, but it’s really about refreshing after a long school year. It’s about recommitting to this calling to homeschool. It’s about you being inspired and equipped to be the best homeschooling parent you can be.