After five years in school, will homeschooling be a fit for our family? Walk with us as we try to find out!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Convention Recap and Tips

About two weeks ago, I attended my first homeschool convention!  I went with a friend from church who is considering removing her children from public school to homeschool them next year.  It was a great experience for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the opportunity to be alone with another adult, a dear friend, for two whole days :)

The convention was wonderful- well organized and informative with a vendor hall chock full of great resources. Over the course of the two days of the convention, I attended a variety of workshops that ranged from vendor-sponsored workshops to workshops focused on encouraging and inspiring the homeschool teacher to those focused on helping children with special needs.  There were many other interesting workshops I was unable to attend due to the time conflicts or my desire to shop in the vendor hall.  Fortunately, I was able to purchase a CD recording of everything I missed and have been listening to those workshops over the last couple of weeks.  The convention also had a kid's program and a teen track, but since I left the kids at home, I did not take advantage of these resources.  They also aired the documentary IndoctriNation both days in the middle of the day.  So, as you can see, there was plenty to keep us pretty busy the entire time!

Because all of the workshops were recorded, I was able to spend quite a bit of time shopping knowing that I could get a CD to listen to later.  It made sense to shop at the convention because the shipping is always free- even if an item is not in stock, if you purchase it at the convention, they will ship it to you at no charge.  I got almost everything on my list for next year except for Tapestry of Grace and Growing with Grammar, as they did not have booths at the convention I attended!

Here is the whole kit and caboodle!

For TS 1

For TS 2

For TS 3

If you plan on attending a homeschool convention in the near future, here are some tips I think might help make your experience even more fruitful:

  • Utilize the Convention's Website
    • Find out if audio recordings will be available for all workshops
    • Check out the workshop schedule beforehand and decide which workshops you will attend and which you will purchase a recording of
    • Determine when you will shop and make sure you leave ample time for it as the vendor halls can be overwhelmingly large
    • Decide on which vendors you definitely want to visit, find them on the vendor hall map and mark it clearly
  • Go with a Plan
    • Determine what you definitely want to buy beforehand as much as possible by perusing materials online, browsing a friend's materials and reading product reviews
    • Make a list of the products you want to buy and be sure to visit those vendors as soon as you have time to shop
    • Make a list of the products you want to learn more about and the questions you have for the vendor and visit those vendors as soon as you can
    • Browse the rest of the vendor hall as you have time and interest
  • Buy, buy, buy!
    • For the reasons I mentioned above, it makes sense to buy as much as you can at a convention
    • Check out the Used Curriculum Sale before you buy full price.  While I was unable to find anything I needed at the Used Curriculum Sale, you never know when you might stumble just what you were looking for at a fraction of the retail price!
  • Bring a rolling crate or suitcase
    • This is a must if you plan on buying almost anything at the convention!  As I mentioned, the vendor halls are very large and even a few paperbacks in your purse can feel like lead after a while.  
    • I didn't have either with me and it was not ideal.  Fortunately, the convention I attended had a book check booth, where for a very nominal fee, they boxed and stored my purchases and brought them to the curb for pick up when we were leaving.  What a blessing that was!  Find out if the convention you are attending has one.
  • Skip the vendor sponsored workshops if you already own and use the product
    • I attended three vendor workshops and only one of them was worth the time.  If you own and are using a curriculum already, chances are you can get any questions answered more efficiently by stopping by the vendor booth and chatting with an associate.  If you are researching the product and know very little about it, then one of these workshops might be worth your time.  Chances are though, you could still get the information you need at the vendor booth without using up your precious workshop time.
I hope these tips have been helpful and you have a wonderful time at a convention near you :)

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