Inside: Learn why you need to attend a homeschool convention in your area and tips on making your first attendance to a homeschool convention successful.
It is that time of year. Homeschool convention season! Attending an annual homeschool convention can be the highlight of a homeschool parent’s year. It can be a time to refocus and recharge their homeschool journey.
Fellow homeschooling parents and experts share their wisdom during workshops and vendors offer a hands-on look at curriculum and supplies to help you plan for the next school year.
I remember my first year homeschooling and looking for homeschool conventions in my area. As a new homeschooler, I had NO IDEA what to expect.
Believe me, when I say I was not as prepared as I could have been and made some newbie mistakes for sure when I attended FPEA. It can be overwhelming if you are not prepared.
If you attend homeschool conventions on a regular basis, this will all be old hat for you. However, if you are new to homeschool conventions (like I was four years ago), this homeschool convention guide will help you learn all about homeschool conventions.
Learn why you need to attend a homeschool convention in your area and tips on making your first attendance to a homeschool convention successful.
Why Should You Attend a Homeschool Convention?
There is a list of reasons to attend a homeschool convention, but I am going to focus on four essential reasons you should find and attend a homeschool convention in your area.
1. Support from other homeschoolers
The moment you enter the homeschool convention, you are immediately surrounded by parents and caregivers who understand. They are in the trenches with you.
They are either going through the same struggles as you are at this very moment, they are about to hit the same roadblock, or they have made it to the other side and have so much insight to offer.
These are your people. They, better than anyone else, can relate and are able to offer you the support that you need.
2. Education and Enlightenment
If you were like me when you started homeschooling you knew you didn’t know half of what you needed to know in order to be successful at homeschooling. You know that saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know”?
Yes, you are qualified to homeschool your child no matter your level of education. I am talking about the tips and strategies from those who have already walked the same path and found success.
That’s where the gold is.
Education is ever changing. What new curriculum is out there? Are there new techniques to discover to help you in your day to day approach to educating your family? What strategies to tackle your daily struggles are available?
Homeschool conventions are the perfect opportunity for you to find answers to those burning questions and more.
3. Renew Your Vision and Commitment
Introduce me to a homeschool parent who didn’t question their decision to homeschool, and I will buy you a cup of joe.
Even after homeschooling for several years now there still comes the point in the year (or several points) where I consider why we continue to homeschool.
Questioning your reasoning for homeschooling isn’t a bad thing. You want to stop and ask yourself this important question. Revisiting your homeschooling decision helps you to stay focused on vision and goals for your homeschooling family.
What could be a more perfect environment for you to renew your commitment to your vision and goals than during a homeschool convention?
4. Visiting Homeschool Vendors
Walking into that hall and seeing homeschool vendors wall to wall, as far as the eyes can see, will certainly make you pause. But it is such a fantastic opportunity to explore.
It is the perfect chance to see your curriculum choices up close and personal. If you plan on shopping, most vendors offer special convention pricing, which can be a nice saving.
How about being able to try before you buy? Many vendors offer presentations to allow your student(s) to test the curriculum on the spot. As a homeschooling family, I know how important it is not to waste money on a curriculum that isn’t a good fit.
Speaking of a good fit, perhaps you have previously purchased the curriculum, and it just doesn’t feel like it is working. Take a moment to discuss your struggles face to face with the vendor.
Perhaps they can offer solutions you haven’t tried. Either way, they might use your feedback to make improvements.
What To Expect At A Homeschool Convention
There are few places to be so inspired, encouraged, and energized about your homeschool journey at a homeschool convention. You will be surrounded by like-minded people, experts in the field, veteran homeschoolers, and homeschooling vendors.
The various workshops will provide you will great insight, new strategies, and many ah-ha moments, and the homeschool vendors will wow you with innovative ideas and new resources.
It sounds fantastic, right? Well, it truly is!
But it can also be immensely overwhelming.
Choosing between all the fantastic and informative workshops can be hard. Dividing your time to ensure you can check out the vendor resources. All the walking. All the talking.
It can leave you in a daze if you don’t prepare.
Never fear because I am here to help you with just that. Follow my tips below on how to prepare for a homeschool convention, and you will be cruising that homeschool convention like the boss homeschool parent you are.
How to Prepare for a Homeschool Convention
Now that you know why you should attend a homeschool convention and what to expect from one let’s discuss how you prepare for your attendance.
Most homeschool conventions offer early bird pricing so once you determine which homeschool convention you will be attending make sure to complete registration early so you can lock in those savings.
If you are staying at the host hotel, there are a limited number of rooms blocked for the special convention pricing so the earlier you register and reserve your hotel accommodations the better.
Make A Plan
Once you are registered, you will receive details about the convention speakers, workshops, vendors, and maps. Highlight the speakers and workshops you are hoping to attend. You might need to prioritize the seminars as you might find there are several at the same time you would like.
Don’t feel like you need to fill up your schedule. Many homeschool conventions offer recordings of the sessions for purchase if you have to miss a particular session.
Be sure to build in time in your schedule to visit the exhibit hall. You should also include time for eating and resting.
Homeschool conventions are exciting, for sure. But they can also be overwhelming and exhausting if you do not build in time to recharge.
Set A Budget
With so many vendors and so many options under one roof, it is easy to spend, spend, spend on curriculum. Make a list of the subject areas you are looking to purchase and set a realistic budget.
As I mentioned above, vendors often offer convention discounts. Don’t be lured into overspending.
Pro tip: If you have your eye on a particular curriculum sign up for their email list. Sometimes they offer end of the year savings which might end up being a better deal.
What To Bring
Make sure to bring a copy of the schedule with you, so you know which sessions you want to attend.
Don’t leave home without a notebook, pens, and highlighters. You will want to write down all those fantastic nuggets of wisdom you heard in the workshops you attended. This will also allow you to write down the names and websites of the curriculum you want to research further.
If your kids are attending with you, and they are not able to occupy themselves, consider bringing some activities or games to keep them entertained during the speaker sessions.
A few more items I highly recommend:
- Phone Charger
- Rolling Cart (When you don’t have to lug catalogs and purchases around you will thank me)
- Snacks and water (if the venue allows)
- Pre-filled address labels (for vendor giveaways so you won’t get tired of filling out cards)
What To Wear
Comfortable clothes and comfortable shoes are a must when attending a homeschool convention. You will be getting your daily steps in for sure!
I suggest bringing a sweater in case the sessions get chilly. Since they expect a crowd in those rooms, they often crank the AC, and a sweater will come in very handy.
Final Thoughts On Attending A Homeschool Convention
Yes, homeschool conventions can be information overload. Yes, they can leave us questioning things. But in a good way.
Whether you are new or a seasoned veteran to homeschool conventions, there is always something new to be learned. I mean, isn’t that what we teach our kids? To never stop learning and striving to be better.
So go forth. Attend some workshops and learn some new strategies. Talk to vendors and see what exciting and innovative products are out there.
Immerse yourself in the sea of other homeschoolers and find a renewed passion for one of the hardest, but most rewarding jobs you have taken on…educating your children.
Attending a homeschool convention can strengthen your homeschool in countless ways. Your homeschool deserves it, your kids deserve it, and you deserve it!
Are you a Florida homeschool family? Join FPEA (Florida Parent-Educators Association) and save $10 off your membership with code CONKLIN19.
Have you recently attended a homeschool convention? Comment below with something you learned while attending!