What to expect at a homeschool convention
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One of the unique benefits of working with a HomeWorks by Precept consultant is gleaning expertise from other homeschool parents. We have asked our consultants to share their best tips for attending a homeschooling convention and here is a compilation of the best ones!

Before you leave home

1. Expect to be overwhelmed. Understand that this is normal and you will quickly find your footing.

2. Do research BEFORE the convention. Having a good grasp of the following will help you stay focused and will give you a more fluid start-up: • Try to find out what kind of learner your student is—visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or combination. • AND explore what kind of teacher you are—prefer lesson plans or free-style • What kind of approach do you prefer—classical, eclectic, unit studies, or an all in one curriculum? The all in one curriculum is the best place to start for newbies! • Discuss a budget with your spouse. The budget should include core curriculum prices PLUS additional resources. Don’t forget to make good use of your local library for extra reading. Try to save your money for your core curriculum.

3. Have a written list of preferred curriculum with you when you walk into the vendor hall. This curriculum list should be the result of the research you did beforehand; it will help you feel less overwhelmed and also help you avoid wasting time in the convention hall.

4. Get information about the convention including maps of the vendor hall, conference sessions, eateries, and things to do in the area.

5. Read about workshops and decide which to attend. Make a list of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice. If there are some you can’t attend, see about getting audio recordings.

6. Make plans for breakfast, lunch, and supper. Know what you can and can’t take into the vendor and conference rooms.

7. If you can, take a wheeled cart for purchases, or at least a large tote.

8. Consider leaving the children at home or, if you like to go to the convention as a family, save money to enroll them in the children and teen tracts. They will have MUCH more fun there than walking around with you and sitting in conferences.

9. Bring your spouse. You will be able to cover much more area, and you will be able to discuss what you have learned in order to formulate your family's goals. Remember to pray together before you enter this new adventure.

10. Do not take "extra money" unless you plan to spend it.

11. Wear comfortable shoes—you will be walking A LOT.

12. If the convention is held at or in connection with a hotel, consider staying on site. This saves a lot of time and you can use the first evening to look over the information you picked up.

13. Plan to spend the first day collecting catalogs and handouts from places you might want to revisit. Ask a few questions but don’t spend too much time at one place. After you have looked over all the catalogs, write down additional questions you want to ask, then go back the next day and ask them.

14. Bring a portable DVD player or laptop with you for any sample videos that you might receive. Bring a notebook or notepad for questions.

Workshops

1. Consider looking for workshops with Scriptural content.

2. Limit your workshops to what presently impacts you. For instance, don’t worry about going to a workshop about organizing your closets when what you really need is a workshop on transcripts.

3. If you are new to homeschooling, pick just a few workshops—especially those designed for new homeschoolers. You will be on information overload already and choosing too many will only waste your time. Also, consider attending a “new to homeschooling “workshop. They will explain topics that likely have not yet occurred to you or your spouse.

Exhibit Hall

1. The exhibit hall can be overwhelming. Know the location of booths you want to visit and hit those early.

2. Make sure you give yourself enough time to look through the exhibit hall. You have access to so much there.

3. Don't bring small children if you can avoid it. Make this a time for you to regroup and make decisions uninterrupted, especially in the vendor hall.

4. Don't jump to any rash decisions without consulting your spouse and then praying about it. Once you have peace about your decision, then trust what God has led you to do. It may not be perfect at first, and you and your child might not like it, but trust the Lord to teach you what He wants you to learn that year. Perhaps it’s patience on your part and perhaps for your child it’s working hard even though it’s tough. I have found the best things we have done in homeschooling have been the ones that didn't start off so great but ended beautifully. BJU Press is the perfect example of that!

5. Allow yourself to walk through the vendor hall without stopping at ANY booths; then go back and check out the vendors on your list. Compare and get contact information. On your third round through the vendor hall you can stop and check out ancillary products. Remember—those neat bookstores offer great resources but they are NOT a curriculum by themselves; and don’t get trapped into buying something that you could find at your local library.

6. Do not feel pressured to buy at the convention. You need time to absorb information and pray. Make sure you have contact information to get in touch with the booth reps of your favorite products. When you get back home, pray and proceed with order.

7. Bring someone who will support, encourage, and help you work through all the information. Your spouse or a parent is probably best. This also will help them understand what you will be doing.

8. Be Friendly! If you are open and comfortable meeting new people, you likely will meet fellow homeschoolers who are further along. This is a journey you do not have to make alone. Benefit from the experiences and wisdom of others.

9. Have Fun! Don’t feel pressured to make hard decisions AT the convention. Pick up brochures and samples. Make notes and keep track of things you would like to investigate more closely from the comfort of home. Be sure to enjoy yourself and relax. Taste the homemade breads, smell the homemade soaps, and enjoy the harp music. When you feel overwhelmed and confused, find a place to sit and regroup. You are embarking on a journey, not a race. Make the first mile a pleasant one.

On behalf of the HomeWorks team,
Sharon Fisher

Manager | Curriculum Specialist, Speaker Coordinator, Social Media
HomeWorks by Precept


 

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