Several weeks ago I attended my very first homeschool convention. Although we have homeschooled for over six years, I was never able to attend a homeschool convention or conference until this year. While we lived in Oklahoma, my husband worked an overnight shift, Friday through Tuesday, so weekends were out, and finances were more than tight. When we moved to Indiana three years ago, the state convention had just happened and last year we were moving to a new house, so the timing just didn’t work out until this year. So, in a span of 5 weeks, I will attend not one, but two homeschool conventions.
I must say, I was completely overwhelmed with the homeschool convention I attended in Ohio earlier this month. I have been to large conventions for ministry before, so I was somewhat prepared for the large vendor hall. What I wasn’t prepared for was having to choose which classes I wanted to attend and managing the childcare options. However, overall it was a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to attend one again next year.
Even though I was prepared, there were a few surprises. So I thought I would share some helpful tips that might make maneuvering your first homeschool convention just a little easier and less stressful.
6 Tips to Make your First Homeschool Convention a Success
- Make a list – Before you attend the convention, make a list of all the subjects you want to cover in the coming year.
- Walk the entire hall first – I recommend walking the entire vendor hall before you decide to purchase any curriculum. There will be favorites you don’t want to stray from, but you never know what you might find that could be a better fit.
- Use your phone – One thing that technology is good is convenience. Use your phone to take pictures of items you like and booth numbers, so you can come back after you have walked the entire hall.
- Use paper & pen – If you’re more of a traditional person, take a pad of paper and pen. Takes notes as you walk through and see curriculum that catches your attention. Some things you might want to note are: learning style, age range, time frame curriculum lasts (full year, semester, 3 months, etc.), cost and booth number. Then, after you’ve walked the entire hall you can go back and take a closer look. Some things you might consider as you evaluate your notes and the curriculum you wrote down: eliminate duplicate subjects and factor in costs.
- Take Cash – You’re more likely to overspend your budget if you use a debit/credit card. So take cash in hand and use only your cash. Buy your main subjects first, then go back for the extras and special splurges.
- Carrying Your Purchases – At the IAHE convention you have two choices, you can bring your own rolling crate where you can keep all your purchases with you and in one place. They also offer a book and bag check where you can drop off and leave your purchases so you don’t have to carry them around the rest of the day.
NOTE: If you’re still unsure of what curriculum might be the best fit for your family, stop and talk to the vendors. They are there to answer your questions. You can even talk other people looking at the same curriculum and see if they have any insight. Maybe they already use it and can let you know why it works for their family or what their favorite part of the curriculum is.
Why Buy at your State Convention?
If you’re like me, nearly all my curriculum purchases are done online. Granted, I have never attended a homeschool convention before, so I’m sure that has a lot to do with it. But, you may be wondering why its important to make your curriculum purchases at the convention.
- First, the purchases at any homeschool convention supports the vendors. When vendors are supported and feel their time is worth the investment and they will be more apt to return the next year.
- Second, the purchases you make at the state convention helps to fund IAHE, which continuously works on the homeschoolers behalf to protect homeschool freedoms in the state of Indiana.
Do you attend your state homeschool convention? What tips do you have?
Check out more tips from my fellow IAHE Blogger – Shalynne at Wonderfully Chaotic
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