Sharpen your pencils and get out your planners, because springtime means the beginning of homeschool convention season. Starting in March each year, dozens of homeschool conventions are held all across the United States, carrying on through mid-summer. Whether you are new to homeschooling or a seasoned veteran looking forward to another exciting year, you’ll want to get the most out of this year’s convention season.
Check the schedules
I always start getting ready for homeschool convention season by checking the website of my statewide homeschool organization. I would suggest doing this first, particularly if you have an active homeschool organization that hosts a convention of its own. State conventions are likely to host speakers who offer information relevant to your location, and since every state has its own set of rules and regulations regarding homeschooling, this is particularly valuable.
Next, you might want to check the schedules for larger regional conventions, or conventions in neighboring states. Although many of the vendors present will be the same, there may be exciting speakers who are worth the trip.
Plan your budget
The cost of state conventions is usually reasonable. The Oklahoma Christian Home Educators Consociation convention fee this year is only $49, and includes admission for the whole family to two days’ worth of workshops and full access to an arena full of vendors where educators can check out curriculum hands-on, and even talk to some of the authors and developers personally.
When making your budget, you’ll want to plan for extras, though, such as child care programs, workshop recordings, hotel rooms, and other travel costs if these apply.
And of course, if you are like me, you will want to have some idea how much you can afford to spend on curriculum, and how much your favorite products cost online, so you’ll know if you are getting the most for your money by buying the products you want at convention.
Narrow your focus
You won’t be able to attend every workshop and listen to every speaker at a convention, so it is important to narrow your focus to get the most out of your limited time. Concentrate on the topics most relevant to you now or in the near future, or speakers you won’t be able to hear anywhere else.
If you just can’t decide between two workshops taking place at the same time, check to see if there will be audio or video recordings available for purchase, or consider e-mailing the speaker directly to see if the presentation they’ll be making is available through their own website or store.
Consider joining HSLDA
HSLDA sometimes offers discounts at state homeschool conventions for members of affiliate groups. If you are ever going to consider joining this organization, which works overtime to protect the rights of homeschooling families, do your research before convention and be ready to take advantage of the special offer you may find there.
Go easy on yourself
Convention is not the place to wear heels and carry an over-the-shoulder bag. On the contrary, you should dress comfortably, wearing shoes you can walk in easily and clothes you feel good in all day long, because the days will be long but very productive.
Bring along a bag or tote on wheels if you can. Curriculum is heavy, and you don’t want to have to pass up a great deal just because your arms are full. And don’t forget to pack along a sweater in case the rooms are chilly, a water bottle, some acetaminophen or ibuprofen, a couple of light snacks you can munch on the go, and extra cash, just in case.
In essence, just be good to yourself. You are on a mission to learn as much as you can and find as many great resources as possible in just a couple of short days. What you accomplish at convention could flavor the rest of your homeschooling year, so outfit yourself for success and enjoy the hunt.
More by Tavia:
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