Homeschool Convention Tips: How to benefit from a homeschool conference
Have you ever been to a homeschool convention or a homeschool conference? Homeschool conventions can be HUGE. Homeschool conferences can be smaller in size, but both can feel overwhelming.
There are speakers, curriculum vendors, homeschool programs, and so much more to explore. With all that is available, where do you start?
You can help yourself conquer feeling overwhelmed at a homeschool conference when you have a plan of attack. Here are four homeschool convention tips to help you navigate a convention successfully to get the most out of it in a focused way.
1. Be prepared.
This sounds simple, right!? Just be prepared.
Well, what does being prepared actually mean? Stated simply, being prepared means to define your objective and your plans before you step foot into the convention.
Let me back up a minute. Before you attend a homeschool convention, it is helpful to go through the steps outlined in 5 Steps to Successfully Planning Your Homeschool Year. This will help you to evaluate the homeschool year you are currently going through and decide what you need to focus on for the next year. You can have a much more productive and helpful homeschool conference experience when you take the time to go through this guide.
What is your objective?
Take the time to think about this and define your objectives.
Why are you going to the convention?
Are you going there to buy curriculum? If so, what do you want to buy?
Do you want to meet other homeschoolers? If so, do you want to find homeschoolers in your area you can meet with in person or ones you can connect with online? How exactly do you plan to find the homeschoolers you are looking for?
Are you going to the conference so you can learn more about aspects of homeschooling you are unsure of? For instance, is this your first year homeschooling and you want to know more about the homeschool laws in your state?
Maybe your oldest child will soon start middle school level science and you need some help figuring out what to do.
Perhaps you going because you need a boost of encouragement. Homeschooling is hard work and sometimes we get discouraged and wonder if we are giving our kids all that they need. Seeking out encouragement and being around others who are homeschooling can be a great help.
Plan ahead of time.
Now that you have your objectives figured out, it is time to make a plan!
Make a list of what you need to research.
Do you need to find a different math program for your daughter? Do you need to get more information about homeschooling high school?
Make a list of what you want and need to find out more about. This will help you to know where to focus your time and energy when you are at the conference-what speaker sessions to attend and what vendors to talk to.
Check the conference schedule and plan the sessions you want to attend and vendors you want to talk to.
A convention will often have a schedule posted on the website as the date(s) for the event approaches. You can see the schedule to know what speakers will be there, what times they will be speaking, and what topics they will cover. The website may also include a list of vendors who will be at the conference.
Sometimes you will find two sessions that you want to attend that are scheduled at the same time. To help you decided which one to attend, ask yourself: What do I need to know right now?
For example, if the sessions are about incorporating writing with history lessons and one about a hands-on approach to math, ask yourself which one will benefit you the most in this coming school year. This is the session you should attend.
Write a list of supplies and materials to buy.
If you have already gone through the guide in 5 Steps to Successfully Planning Your Homeschool Year, you already know what materials you need to get.
When you have a list made, you can easily focus in on what you need. This will save you time and money.
Don’t forget to check if there is a used curriculum section at the conference. If there is one, people attending the conference can bring items to sell that they are no longer using (or bought and never used). You can get some great deals and bring items of your own to sell.
Set a budget.
Oh–products and curriculum at conventions can be so tempting to buy! All the cool things are before us, looking amazing and carrying promises to improve our life and our homeschool experience.
But you know the truth. Impulse buying can drain your wallet, and cause you regret later.
So, set a budget! You will be glad you did.
Handy tip: for that really cool item that you didn’t know existed until you saw it at the conference that you know will help your son enjoy math even more…
Include in your budget an amount reserved for fun extras. This will take the pressure off of you and, because you put room for an extra or two in your budget, they may lose their appeal.
Be prepared to take notes.
Take some pens and a notebook with you so you can take notes while you are there.
Not only can you take notes on the speaker sessions, but you can jot down things you learn from vendors, other parents, and inspirations and thoughts you have that you don’t want to forget.
2. Keep your focus.
Depending on the size of the convention, it may be easy to get distracted and sidetracked from your original objectives.
Write out ahead of time the sessions you want to attend, where they are located, what time they start, and decide when in your day you will shop for the curriculum and supplies you need. This will help you to keep focused and on task.
It may be helpful to set alarms on your phone or set a timer to go off when you need to head to a speaker session. This way, you won’t inadvertently miss what you came to the convention to hear.
Keeping your focus on what you went to the convention to accomplish and learn will help you to have a productive and valuable experience.
3. Connect with other homeschoolers.
A homeschool conference is a golden opportunity to speak with other homeschoolers about homeschooling, curriculum, discipline, how to keep your sanity homeschooling, or whatever burning question you have that you are seeking the answer for.
There may be sessions that will address a topic you need more information on, or you can strike up a conversation with a homeschool parent you see while waiting in line or at a speaker session.
You never know what gems of information and help you will find at a conference.
So, speak up and ask questions.
4. Have fun.
Life is not all about work. Yes, homeschooling is hard work and, as a homeschool parent, you take this responsibility very seriously, but you need to have fun, too!
Attending a homeschool convention is an opportunity to take a break from the day to day responsibilities and enjoy a change of pace.
Make sure that you add fun to your list for the day.
Catholic homeschool conference tip
A Catholic homeschool conference may offer Mass at the beginning of the day. When you start your day off with Mass, you can take your intentions to God and lay them at His feet. He will help you navigate your day according to His plan and give you the insights and help that you need.