Sponsored Post from Time4Learning.
That’s right…homeschool conventions are an adventure! And just like any adventure, preparation is key to a successful outcome. Many homeschoolers just like you have been overwhelmed by the magnitude of these conventions — the crowds, speaking sessions, curriculum options, you name it.
But once you prepare yourself, you’ll see that these conventions are really a communal event where other homeschoolers like you will learn, share, experience, and enjoy all the wonderful elements that homeschooling offers. So let ’s get organized and ready for what will be a fantastic adventure.
Prepare Before You Arrive
Don’t wait until you get to the convention to pick out what exhibitors you’ll visit and sessions you’ll attend. Get as much information on the event before you arrive or simply check out the organizer’s website. Here, you’ll find a map of the vendor hall and a schedule of events. This will help you carefully plan your days, navigate through the crowds, tell you where the restrooms are, and where the workshops/sessions are held.
Make a list of the vendors you’re interested in visiting. You can always deviate from the list once you’ve become comfortable with the terrain. Wandering around without a plan will only waste time. Also, bring a small suitcase with wheels or a rolling car to keep water, snacks, and all those freebies and brochures you’ll be collecting.
As far as the sessions are concerned, choose the ones that interest you the most. If there is a scheduling conflict, you can always purchase a CD or download the one that you don’t attend. Once you arrive, sit close to the front and take notes. Some parents take notes on a tablet, others with their smartphone. You may prefer the tried and true pen and notebook — they always work and don’t need batteries!
Solving the Curriculum Conundrum
Many homeschoolers lose their way when it comes to choosing curriculum options. There are so many to choose from. But a conference is the perfect time to become better acquainted with the ones you find interesting. Most representatives are very informative and even provide opportunities to explore their products in person.
Check out the conference website beforehand. It will tell you which curriculum providers are attending and where they’ll be located. Once you’ve found them, visit their websites and investigate what they offer. You may also want to contact these vendors and inquire about conference specials. Saving money is always a good thing — especially if you’re trying the curriculum for the first time.
Conferences provide the ideal environment for communicating with other homeschoolers. So introduce yourself, speak up, share ideas, and make new friends. You never know what you might learn or how you might help another homeschooler who may be struggling. You always learn new things on an adventure!
If you’re bringing your children, many conventions offer events for them. They’ll have the opportunity to make new friends, take part in fun activities, and learn more about homeschooling.
Last and certainly not least, create a budget for the convention. Spending money is easy, especially if you don’t have a plan, and all those homeschooling goodies available in the vendor hall will be very tempting.
As you sift through the vendor information, write down your necessary expenses. You should get an idea of what you need before you arrive. While you’re at the convention, you may find things that interest you — so be sure to budget for those “surprise” expenses as well.
Above all else, have fun on your adventure. Take in the camaraderie, energy, knowledge and excitement. You are there with other homeschoolers who are focused, just like you are, on providing your children with the best possible educational experience. And, when done properly, conventions help you meet that goal.
Jamie Gaddy, B.S., M.Ed., Ed.D. has been a college education professor for over 17 years. Education has been an integral part of her life in both the classroom and as a principal. Six children later found her dissatisfied with traditional schooling and homeschooling became the better fit. She is also a pastor’s wife, remote project manager, and entrepreneur who now homeschools four of her six children (ages 11-17) in southern Georgia. Jamie loves to share about her homeschool experience and help other homeschoolers find success. Connect with her at [email protected]