It's less than 10 days until I leave for a homeschool convention. I LOVE conventions/book sales and am very excited!! Recently, a couple of first time moms asked what to expect and how to prepare. Conventions can be very overwhelming for some. My number one answer would be "Do your homework ahead of time". This will help with anxiety and to avoid impulse spending.
Here are my convention tips.....
1. Gather information about possible subjects you hope to teach each child and the level they may need. For example, what time period would you like to study for history? Or, does your child need extra help with math facts? Make a list of possibilities for each child.
2. Inventory your book shelves to determine what you have and what you may need. I then create lists to avoid purchasing duplicate copies.
3. Create a budget or allowance and commit to staying within that dollar amount.
My lists and budget really help me stay focused. There's so much to see and every representative wants to sell. That's why they're there. By creating lists and sticking to them, I avoid impulse purchases and overspending. If you do find something new and interesting, pray about it, sleep on it, if possible, go back the next day and look at it again. Conventions are a great way to look and compare various books/curricula. You get to hold it, smell it, and flip through the pages. There are many discounts and deals for purchasing at convention. Take advantage of this if you can. However, don't feel pressured by this. Some companies allow you to utilize convention discounts for a short period of time following the convention. Don't be afraid to ask or negotiate.
4. Explore the convention website for the following:
- Look for vendor information. Are there certain companies or curricula that you're interested in? If possible, check out their links/websites ahead of time. Be ready to ask questions.
- Print a speaker schedule and any handouts you may need for seminars you plan to attend.
- Check rules and requirements. The convention I attend has restrictions on strollers and bags on wheels. They also discourage attendance of children under age 12. By checking ahead, you can plan accordingly.
When the big day arrives....
1. Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes. You will spend much of the day on your feet.
2. Bring lists, money, and bags. I prefer backpack type bags. Keep in mind, books can be really heavy so make sure bags have large straps and will handle the weight.
3. Most conventions don't allow you to bring food, so be prepared with snacks or plan ahead to purchase meals. I do carry a water bottle.
This will be my 5th year of attending homeschool conventions. Each year I learn so much more. Typically, I spend most of my time in the used book sale and exhibit hall and very little time in seminars. Last year, I purchased an MP3 recording of all the seminars/workshops at convention. This allowed me to listen at my leisure and be inspired all year long. I would definitely recommend this.
Many moms go to convention with their spouse. Some attend with girlfriends or other homeschooling moms. The Farmer attended a homeschool convention one time and has been to numerous book sales. However, he really doesn't enjoy crowds and would much rather stay on the farm with the kids. I often ask his opinion, particularly on large purchases and he's very supportive of my decisions. We also let our kids explore and participate in choosing some books. It builds excitement and gives them ownership. We view homeschooling as a family decision. Everyone needs to be on board.
Enjoy your time at convention! Let me know if you have other questions. I pray you have a wonderful experience :)